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Conference Call Anatomy™
Masters of hold music, yesterday.

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/vɑːtəʃliːfənˈmjuːzɪkˈəʊpfə/ (n.)
Literally, “waiting hold music victim”. One, with an abnormal fear of späteankunftschande (not perfectly translatable, but more or less “the shame of the latecomer”), who has dialed into a conference call so early — even before the moderator — so as to have to listen to the hold music (“schliefenmusik”). One with a profound sense, therefore, of früheankunftfreude (loosely, “the joy of punctuality”).

In popular culture

Die Warteschleifenmusikopfer, (Op. 27, No. 2) was a light-hearted opera by Otto Büchstein concerning the exploits of Iolanthio, a young paralegal at a Belgian investment manager who, when on holiday by the Caspian Sea, diligently dialled into weekly all-hands conference call. Forgetting the time-zone difference, the poor fellow found himself on the call an hour before it was due to start. Try as he might to disconnect, there was something entrancing about the hold music and before long …

Schleifenmeister”, as it affectionately became known, was not popular on debut and never became a mainstream success, notwithstanding the rousing arias O! Fluch dieses bezaubernde Bossanova! and Der Hölle Glockenspiel kocht in meinem Herzen which book-end the interval. In later years, it acquired a cult status, especially behind the Iron Curtain. It is rarely performed in German nowadays but has been adapted, in English, for pantomime.

See also