Lockdown 3 (Day 10) On the Phone

I remember working in an office for a couple of years on the Heathrow side of London. I had to drive for forty minutes to get there, then in the evening with heavy traffic had to make the return around the M25 motorway. The return journey was always heavy going and could take two hours, or more if had snowed, or there had been a crash somewhere. I did not have a mobile phone then, I was not senior enough in the corporation to have one, so I travelled back and forth with music from the CD player.

I mention this because most of my work in that post was carried out via telephone and by email when nearly all of it could have been carried out by phone at home, even in the late Twentieth Century. Internet dial-up services were not always reliable, but were good enough for email. However, the thinking in those days was that daily presence was demanded of employees and daily presence was as much the reason one was paid as anything else. What was interesting was how business interactions were carried out so effectively by telephone.

I had many dealings by phone with people whom I rarely, if ever met. On a winter’s day, when it was dark as I reached the office then dark when I left, I might barely meet a soul on the executive floor, but I would still feel that I had enjoyed a sociable day, when all I had done was talk to people by telephone. People such as the account handler at the design agency, or at the advertising firm, or the managing director of the point of sale display manufacturer and installation business, regional managers and company directors, the manager of the customer services department. It was a talking job. Occasionally I would walk along the corridor and speak to my boss in her, or latterly in his office, but that could have been handled by telephone too.

Well, today I spent my day at my desk and spoke to four people. Each call was very different; each brought something of the wider world to my compact, locked down living space. I did not step outside once, but it was a pleasant day. Thank you people.


CLP 14/01/2021