Skype trouble

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Conference Call Anatomy


A rare example of the Skype trouble gambit captured in the wild, yesterday. We think he got away with it.

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Skype trouble /skaɪp ˈtrʌbl/ (n.)

An internationally recognised defence to conference call ambush, frequently used by the stierscheißkünstler as an incompetence cloaking device.

It is a common-enough scenario: some consultant has been warbling on about cost-cutting metrics for 45 minutes, you’ve drifted off completely and are searching Amazon for electric shaver lubricant[1] and the question presently occupying your mind is “can I use sewing machine oil because that is, like, way cheaper” when the consultant rounds on you with a specific, direct and (for all you know) perfectly sensible question that only you can answer. You have to buy time; “sorry, I was on mute” only delays the inevitable because while it excuses your silence it will not excuse your lack of attention to the call.

“Sorry, Skype trouble. My audio is playing up a bit” works a lot better.

“Skype trouble” offers three distinct advantages over the simple “mute” gambit:

(1) It implies you have, though no fault of your own, not heard the question, obliging the assailant to patiently repeat it, thereby (should you have the dimmest idea what he is talking about in the first place — unusual, but not inconceivable) giving you a second chance to save your bacon.
(2) Where as “I was on mute” buys only enough time to scramble for your mouse, wake up the screen and open your mic, audio-visual problems have indefinite duration, offering as much time as you need to gather yourself and perhaps even launch a Crazy Ivan counter-strike. Plus, VOIP outages are famously persistent. Just because you have been able to report your condition by no means guarantees you have cured it.
(3) This offers a third benefit, valuable especially for the bona fide bullshit artist who, in fact, heard the question perfectly well, but has no clue in the world how to answer it. He does not need to reply at all, but can disconnect the call and blame it on the internet. We see a magnificent example of this in the video in the panel.

See also

References

  1. Real-life example, needless to say.