Zoom in the Bathroom
What’s the big deal?
Many hilarious stories are circulating about fumbled misuse of video conferencing platforms during this Covid situation.
Here’s one I heard second-hand off the record from reliable sources that asked to remain anonymous to speak freely:
A junior-level woman at a big financial company was on an important teleconference call. The call included important stakeholders and her team members, her boss and senior executives. As the discussions went over the scheduled three hours, our hero — like a human — needed a bio-break.
She diligently took her laptop into her facilities to stay on the call. Yes, she neglected to mute and turn off the camera.
This was far worse than Aidy Bryant in the first “Saturday Night Live At Home.” In the skit, Aidy put her laptop on her bathroom floor before conducting her ministrations. Our hero in this story kept her laptop atop her lap, where, as the term “laptop” implies, it was intended to be used.
Needless to say, and to be politely euphemistic, everyone on the conference call got a privacy-disrespecting close-up of our hero’s, shall we say, “Netherlands.”
Her “Amsterdam,” if you prefer, was on sharp, 720p HD resolution in a way only an intimate partner or telemedicine OB-GYN would appreciate in a non-leering way.
The scene went on longer than the most celebrated long takes in cinema history, including Jean-Luc Godard’s brilliant seven-minute traffic jam scene in “Weekend.”
Our hero’s colleagues frantically messaged her to no avail. She was “occupied,” as we all are in there, and didn’t see their pleas.
Suffice there was no un-seeing the unspeakable sights her audience saw.
Two days later, our hero was “off-boarded,” or whatever her firing was called, for “bad judgement.”
I can only imagine the dreaded meeting with her HR representative.
(Sorry, I mean “People Operations Talent Solutions Human Capital Management Employee Experience Business Partner”) (aka, “Vlad the Impaler”):
HR Vlad: Hi — is this a good time to talk? Perfect. So, I understand that we had what it says here was an “inappropriate experience”?
Our Hero: No, actually, “we” didn’t have this experience. Mostly I did. The host could have paused the call and the participants could have looked away.
HR Vlad: We always appreciate your feedback. So can you share with me how this happened?
Our Hero: Well, I really had to go, and I didn’t know how to use the new videoconferencing platform.
HR Vlad: It says here you read the detailed instructions on how to use the platform, and you clicked that you understood.
Our Hero: Yes, I did. But the instructions were long, complicated and confusing, so I just clicked yes because five minutes before the call I got an urgent email from my boss saying, “Can you jump on a call? We need you to take notes.”
HR Vlad: I understand. The company cares deeply about our people because people are our most important asset. But I need to let you know that under the circumstances we will no longer require your services, and we thank you.
At this point, what does our mortally humiliated hero do?
What should any of us do if it happens and it might? Four suggestions:
Move to New Zealand
Upside: It’s stunningly beautiful there, with lovely people, an awesome prime minister, plenty of delicious free-range, grass-fed mutton, and also free, non-bankrupting healthcare when you need it.
Best of all, New Zealand is also the anti-“Cheers”: Nobody will know your name. A recent poll found that nearly 200% of New Zealanders, when asked to identify Beyoncé, said, “who?” While more than 300% identified the beloved Kiwi opera great, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Downside: It’s far away, plus too many Americans are planning to move there if Trump is reelected because Canada isn’t far enough away, and they’ll just ruin New Zealand and drive up real estate prices.
Apply for the Witless Protection Program
Upside: You’ll get to meet the stupidest people such as Covid deniers, and they’ll make you feel smart.
Downside: You’ll get to meet the stupidest people such as Covid deniers, and they’ll undermine your faith in evolution and probably infect you with the Covid.
Update your LinkedIn profile and resume
Upside: You can express your real “brand” that has nothing to do with your videoconferencing mishap.
Downside: If a recruiter contacts you to raise and dash your hopes, you need to have a “narrative” about why you left your last job. Try: “The wonderful experience there inspired me to bring my talents to explore and pursue new potential opportunity horizons.”
Be loud, proud and viral
Upside: You don’t have to be ashamed and slink away — flip the script. Leverage and monetize your experience. Get your footage out there. Who cares? Just like in the kids’ book, “Everyone Poops,” everyone has what the youth call “junk.”
Get a good intellectual property attorney, secure the rights to the video, edit and post on YouTube, go viral, and get some of that sweet ad money. Then tell your story on Huffington Post with the point — as Eve Ensler affirms — that nobody should be ashamed of their junk. Call yourself an “influencer.”
Who knows? Your embarrassing Covid-19 Bathroom Zooming experience could bring our divided country together by reminding us that we’re all human with human flaws and foibles, and our Netherlands or Amsterdams are pretty much the same, give or take.
Downside: Your grandparents, who have no idea who these Eve Ensler, HuffPos or YouTubes are, worry that their independent living “friends” might shame them because of your shamelessness.
But your cool Paw-Paw might say, “Ha ha, that looks just like Maw-Maw!”
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.