Hello…is anybody there?

When good phones turn bad

Occupational case study 1

Phone on a tea tray for the hard of hearing.

There are many things in everyday life that start off as a highly irritating temporary solution to something beyond your control and then progress imperceptibly, through inertia, to becoming a permanent fixture and almost invisible. Like this phone on a tea tray arrangement, created some time ago by my good self because the phone extension isn’t long enough to reach my desk after an office restructure. In my pre-hearing aid days I would happily balance a pile of vital papers on top of the teapot and mugs as I took notes during a phone call, I would marvel at how illegible writing is when not done on a firm surface, and laugh gaily every time the phone fell off the tray as I stretched to get a pen from my desk. If someone was making tea at the same time as my phone call, my eyes would light up with joy and I would gratefully indicate my milk and sugar requirements with the spare hand.

Now I have to strain to hear people talking on the clapped out phone in a silent room, so add in the boiling kettle which now sounds like a DC-10 taking off, clanking dishes and a bunch of students innocently laughing at the noticeboard just outside the open office door and the ridiculousness of the phone on a tea tray arrangement suddenly becomes visible again.

The ideal solution to this fresh insight would be the provision of a louder phone with a greater than 12 inch flex. This is currently proving elusive, so my ingenious new highly irritating temporary solution to the original highly irritating temporary solution is to just not answer the phone.


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