I’ve been involved in a bunch of “Zoom” sessions this year – a pandemic phenomenon for many of us. It’s usually a mess. Everyone talks at once, stopping when they realize they don’t have the floor, and then starting up again. And again.
This start-stop, multi-talker process reminds me of when I was in kindergarten, before we learned to raise our hand when we wanted to say something. And, then waited for the teacher to give us the go-ahead. It took that whole first year for Mrs. Shopper (in my case) to keep us from blurting out something whenever we felt like it. Ah, Mrs. Shopper! Do we ever forget that first teacher, that second mother figure in our lives?
Anyhow, that early childhood training would serve us well in a “Zoom” session. We need someone to be “Mrs. Shopper” and the rest of us to be the kids in kindergarten. To learn to raise our hands when we want to speak. It will take some getting used to; we are an impatient lot; we don’t like to wait. For anything! But, if we don’t, these virtual meetings will continue to be a disaster.
Us old coots are trainable. We had to wait for everything growing up. We learned patience. We grew up in an era when the adage, “Children should be seen but not heard,” was in play. Even at home, we had to wait before blurting out what was pushing our buttons. We even had to wait to make a phone call. Not because someone in the family was using the phone, because someone in another household was using their phone, and shared a telephone circuit with us. Two, three or more, families sharing the same party line. A private line was expensive, which is why most families were on a party line.
When you picked up the phone to make a call on a multi-party line, it made a click sound that the person using the line could hear. If you “clicked” enough times, the person “hogging” the circuit might say, “Good bye,” and hang up. Not always. Sometimes, you had to claim you had an emergency and needed the line.
Telephone wars were not uncommon. The best tactic was to leave your phone off the hook so your party-line family couldn’t make a call. If you picked up the phone very carefully it wouldn’t produce a click. Then, you could listen in on their conversation – a popular pastime in those days.
That’s what a Zoom session is, a bunch of people sharing a party line. So raise your hand, or click in and your Zoom session will go much smoother.
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