I have to hop

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Conference Call Anatomy
Look, I’d love to stay and chat but we have to go and wait in the lobby.

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TRIAGO: Good colleagues: there are but twenty minutes left.
Wouldst you thy precious time reclaim;
Or may we keep afoot our infinite game
With more, or any other, business? Search anew,
What items canst be tabled without ado?
GLOUCESTER: Nothing sire.
KENT: Nor from I.

A period of silence around the table.

QUEEN (aside): That irksome twerp.
A world of richness awaits this piffling parley.
TRIAGO: How say you, brave Herculio?
What agenda fodder doth the gods portend?
HERCULIO: The gods? The gods? Methinks you jest.
Th’almighty has no use for paltry conference.
TRIAGO: I think he does, sirrah!
QUEEN: Oh, ho! How so?
What matters lie upon thy parchèd record
That be yet unbeknownst to sacred mind?
Whose cogs and toothèd gears
Whose immaculate escapements
All history — gone and yet to come — defined?
What need hath she, or he
Who bid the lion lay with lamb
For this dismal convention?
FOOL: Thou maketh me to meet —
Therefore I am.
TRIAGO: How should I know, my Queen?
How should I know?
QUEEN: Quite so, good sir, quite so. I must away.
Maketh thou the time-ball drop.


HERCULIO: With all my heart, my Liege —
One has to hop.

—Otto Büchstein, Die Schweizer Heulsuse

The line one rolls out when one can no longer bear an all-hands conference call, but there is no less brazen way of engineering an exit.

It implies you have something better to do — let’s face it; if what you are currently doing is attending a conference call, it’s a matter of irrefutable mathematical logic that you have something better to do; even head-butting a filing cabinet would count — but in announcing your need to hop without saying whither, you don’t commit yourself to anything upon which an unemancipated fellow call-participant could pass judgment.

It would be an act of passive aggression beyond the pale, even for the most resentful project manager, to enquire to to what a departing participant feels obliged to “hop”, and anyway, each other participants, mutely admiring the departee, will be thinking, “there but for the grace of God go I” — indeed, “there with the grace of God will go I as soon as I can contrive an appropriate pause in the moderator’s monologue to engineer a similar exit” — so it is not done to ask such pointed questions.

You can, of course, give a reason and thereby commit yourself as a matter of heroic resistance, or even spite: the most devastating of which is, “I have to hop: I have an industry call”. This is the office worker’s equivalent of, “Look, I’d love to stop and chat but we have to go and wait in the lobby.”

See also