I had it yesterday – a client called in by cell from a large commercial ship to arrange a change to his return as it was about to arrive in port. It was a windy day, and it was hard to hear him. Suddenly, the ship’s horn blasted in my ear repeatedly, a hugely oppressive honking noise like “WHORNK! WHORNK! WHORNK! WHOOOOOOOOOORNK!“
It was impossible to hear, as it went off 10 or 15 times. After making sure he was okay and not under some kind of attack or in a raging fire, we just laughed until it was finished. He kept making funny “Augh!! Aaaaiyeee” noises the whole time, and when it was finally quiet he said, sounding as if he was being tactful for my delicate feminine sensibilities,Â “You have no idea just how bad that nearly was, ma’am, I was crouched down to get out of the wind, right under the horn when it went off.” I tried to go on with the “business” but could not resist saying mischievously, “…do you need to get a mop?”
This busted him up again, and he explained that he had been on all fours, trying to keep talking but also trying to crawl away from the terrible noise, and that he’s “not a small guy, over 6 feet.”Â He was so overwhelmed,Â he said, that he instinctively cowered down as if he was being assaulted, and he really thought it was “doing things” to his insides. And that he was trying to crawl like a dog to get away from the noisy monster, because standing up and bringing his head even closer to the terrible noise was unthinkable.
Come to think of it, he was crawling on all threes, because he had me on the cell the whole time, although the racket made the phone mic cut out repeatedly.Â I pictured him hopping like a gut-shot frog.
At this point I was laughing so hard that I had the silent hysterics – the kind where you’re laughing so hard that no sound comes out at all (which is really better for all concerned, since I usually have a really loud, raucous laugh).
And then he said, “Oh, I hope there wasn’t a camera… uh oh, the guys up on the bridge are laughing at me, they watched the whole thing on the security camera.”
I tend to think that this was the real reason the horn blew so enthusiastically; the bridge crew saw he was in perfect position for a classic prank, and they had to blow it anyway because they were about to dock.
“[Client name], I said, “prepare to be YouTubed.”
It was at least a minute longer before either of us could stop laughing so that we could finish up his change. Actually, I was able to go on because I already knew what he needed, but he was totally helpless.
When I recounted the call later for my work buddy Donna, complete with “whornk whornk whornk” sound effects, she laughed so hard she started a coughing fit, and had get out her asthma inhaler.
And then I realized that not only might I get a really, epically bad technical score on that call, as in “your calls may be monitored for quality control purposes,” we could get my supervisor to pull it up so we could ALL enjoy it again and again.
If I’m going to go out for having bad call monitors, I’m going to go out BIG.