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Became The Butt-Dial Of This Joke

, , , , , , | Working | August 2, 2019

Our office has an intercom system that has literally never been used except when it’s being tested. To broadcast over the intercom, you dial a phone number, and when you speak into the phone on your end, your voice comes out over the speaker.

When I get back from vacation, I hear this story: Out of nowhere, everyone could hear outdoor background noises, footsteps, and a woman’s faint voice coming from all around them. It was coming from the intercom, and it was the unmistakable combination of sounds you hear when someone butt dials you without realizing it. Somewhere on the planet Earth, an English-speaking woman butt dialed the intercom number and went about her day with her phone in her pocket or purse, not realizing what had happened.

While my coworkers tried to find someone in IT who actually knew how to disconnect this thing or find out where the call was coming from, they spent the day listening to this woman — wearing very loud clippity-clop high heels — chat with friends, shop for clothes — including trying them on — get lunch — quesadillas, yum! — etc. She was most likely in a city, since her heels were apparently hitting pavement as she went between shops.

After listening to her lunch, my supervisor said, “If she goes to the bathroom, I’m outta here!” No points for guessing what everyone heard almost immediately after that. My supervisor did indeed take a walk as soon as it was obvious what was coming, but from what others told me, that section took a very long time…

Nobody was able to tell me how it eventually ended — many of them finished for the day and went home before it did! — either by someone in IT finally cutting it off, or by the unknown radio star finally needing to use her phone. Even if she saw her phone had accidentally dialed a number, she would have no way of knowing it connected to an intercom and not another phone, so she will never know that an office of strangers listened to everything she did one afternoon, and we will never know who it was.

When I heard about it, I suggested that it might have been a prank, but even though others agreed with me, I decided not because a prankster would’ve made them listen to even more uncomfortable things, like the sounds of stopping for a quickie with hubby or something. The stuff was too mundane, if briefly gross, for it to be anything but unintentional, I think.

Regardless, we can learn two important things from this incident. One, for everyone: be mindful of your phone and what it’s doing behind your back. Two, for our IT and telecommunications department: rethink the intercom design.

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