I really hate speakerphones. I despise them. When I speak with someone using a speakerphone, I feel that I’m told indirectly, “Don’t think that you’re important enough that I need to stop what I’m doing to talk to you. Just keep on yapping and I’ll mutter some yeps and nopes.”

I rank speakerphones one notch below cellphone use in public. This morning I spoke with a customer who was using a speakerphone. She spoke at bullhorn levels into the inspid little device to tell me she was having a problem with her e-mail. She would ask me a question, I would give her an answer and then she’d confer with someone that would whisper so I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

That’s just rude.

First of all, the conversation sounded like it was coming in from Venus. Secondly, she was multitasking way too much. When the customer wasn’t speaking at abnormally loud volumes, she was either drinking coffee, eating something or speaking in hushed tones with the suspicious little man in the shadows. Maybe I’m a little bit paranoid but I like to know who I’m speaking with and that I have their attention.

Earl is a very busy corporate executive. He earns lots of money for his company and all involved (including me) are quite proud of him. However, early in our relationship he learned that the speakerphone thing isn’t going to work for me. I’d call him up and answer his greeting over his speakerphone with “hi”. He’d say “hello”. I’d say “hi”. He’d say “hello”. This would go on until he was frustrated enough to pick up the receiver and pay attention to me in which I would then have a delightful conversation of whispering sweet nothings and my asking him to bring home cat litter or something equally mundane.

I could be a little paranoid. Back in my radio days, the morning show team would take great delight in calling their boss (me) around 6:00 in the morning and put me on the air. “Ha ha! J.P. is asleep! Ha ha!” After telling them several times to knock it off, I finally responded to one of their questions with a “How the fsck should I know?” or something equally profane in which the phone went dead and they learned to take Station Daddy seriously.

We have a support tech in our group that likes to use his speakerphone. We get to hear all sorts of fun throughout the office. “What did you say?” “I said press CTRL-ALT-DEL twice.” “Press catcha all mice?” This goes on and on.

I seriously miss Ma Bell and her rotary dial.