I hate using the phone. I’m guessing you all hate using the phone too. This is because they have the ability to turn a harmless human being into a frightening, disembodied voice. Most telephones also come with an inbuilt translation device, which turns phrases like ‘Hello, can I speak to Mr Jones please?’ into ‘I am a demon spawn and I like to drink my own wee.’
If only there was a handy, out of date instructional film to show us how to use the phone properly.
I present to you – The Telephone At Work, which tells you everything you need to know about using the telephone at work. In 1972.
We begin with our hero talking on the phone. He does not like talking on the phone. Just as our hero manages to stop talking on the phone, the phone rings again. This time, he does what any sane person would do – he pulls a gun out and shoots the phone..
At this point you should probably be taking notes, so I hope you have paper and a pencil to hand.
Note 1 – If the phone rings, shoot it.
Then the announcer begins the film proper with the question on everyone’s lips – “Why do people hate the telephone so much?”
See, it’s not just me who curls into a ball and cries whenever my phone rings.
Next we have some idiot children using the phone. One of them has dialled a random number, and is inviting the bemused old man on the other end to some made up party he’s having. never mind the fact that this man could be a serial killer, or could be selling PPI.
So far we’ve learned a grand total of fuck all about using the phone, apart from that you can shoot it and phone strangers on it.
Next we meet this woman, who is having a nervous breakdown as she imagines that her work phone has turned into 27 different phones, all of which are ringing at once. She does what any sensible woman would do and ignores all the calls, instead running off to the toilet to have a period.
Luckily, the narrator is on hand to remind us that “the phone is an inanimate object – it cannot move without help, and it cannot speak for itself.” You know, just in case you genuinely did think that your phone was alive and was going to try and kill you while you slept. This is accompanied by a reassuring picture of some phones not moving or speaking. Although I don’t like the look of them – they look like they’re planning something.
I’ll be honest, none of this is making me want to use the phone in 1972.
Next, there’s a ‘what happens next’ puzzle involving Mrs Phillips. She’s talking to her stockbroker. This is silly, because we all know women only ever use the phone for gossiping and phoning psychic hotlines.
So, what happens next? Does Mrs Phillips:
1. Do a fart down the phone
2. Realise she’s been talking for half an hour and her phone isn’t even plugged in
3. Reveal her nakedness to the world
If you guessed 3, congratulations.
This would never happen in real life. In reality, Mrs Phillips would be sprawled on the settee wearing only a pair of her husband’s y-fronts, farting and absentmindedly biting her toenails. While phoning the Cones Hotline.
Whatever. I think the general point is that the person you’re talking to can’t see you.
This point is illustrated further with a comparison of what men think is on the other end of the phone, compared to what they’re actually speaking to:
However, this does not stop the man getting his cock out under the desk and muttering “What are you wearing?”
Right, time to recap everything we’ve learned so far. Pencil and paper ready? Here we go!
That is not what we’ve learned. We have learned that the phone “cannot move without help”, that you can use the phone while naked, and that you can shoot the phone if it gets annoying.
Next we have these two gentlemen –
The one on the right is being a dick to the one on the left, by which I mean he’s talking normally rather than turning into Mr Ass Kiss 1972. We are then shown the correct way to behave on the phone, which involves phrases like ‘Begging your pardon sir’, ‘If I may be so bold as to speak, sir’, and ‘God bless you Guv’nor.’ The person doing the phone grovelling should also be bowing at all times.
Meanwhile, this woman has had to answer the phone despite her hair having done that thing again.
She can’t understand her caller, and is struggling to get his name. Of course, the correct thing to do is to get the caller to spell his name, rather than just shouting “YOU WHAT!” seventeen times. I briefly worked in a call centre once, and this might be why I no longer work there.
Moving on, here’s how not to hold the phone –
I don’t mind admitting that when I first saw this, I laughed until a bit of wee came out.
The narrator suggests organising your thoughts on paper before making a call, so you don’t end up tongue tied during the conversation. This will not work, because whatever you write down will invariably end up as “I drink my own wee” when you read it aloud, so you might as well just write that.
Towards the end we do get one piece of useful advice – if the call gets cut off, it is up to the person who made the call to redial. This probably doesn’t apply if the original call consists of “Help I’m out of credit, please can you ring me back urgently! My car is surrounded by lions!” In this case, it’s probably best to break from traditional etiquette.
And there we have it. One last recap of what we’ve learned in this film –