Get off that phone and talk to me

The bigger the VIP the worse his conduct


Bikram Vohra | March 8, 2010

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor....bureaucrat, politician, the rich and the powerful, they are the worst.

Have you ever been in this position? You have an appointment in someone’s office and you make the effort to fetch up on time and you enter his office after the a mandatory wait outside and shake hands and sit down all cordial and pleasant and then he gets a phone call and suddenly, you vanish from in front of him. It is as if you don’t even exist and he is looking through you.

So, you are sitting there while he is prattling on and you look at your fingernails, read the magazines titles on his table upside down, study the photographs on his walls and three certificates with red rosettes, and grin fatuously whenever you catch his eye. Now, he is having a blast on the phone enjoying his little talk while you are feeling a complete ninny. Finally, he puts it down and says, sorry, phone call, had to talk.

You say, no problem, it’s okay, happens.

At which point the phone rings again and he is off on another verbal voyage completely marooning you as he re-establishes contact with some old buddy. Next thing you know they are talking golf, let’s meet again, long time no see, come to our place, no, no, come to ours, have the kids grown up or what, how’s Tingu, really, are you sure?

Whatever has happened to Tingu is of no interest to you but there you are captive to the saga.

I am in this position recently and my patience is now packed and ready to whizz off. He ends this second call, presses the intercom and then says to his secretary that she should get his wife on the line.

So, he turns to me, how’s tricks?

I am about to tell him about tricks when the phone rings and he says, hi ,sweetheart, what gives?

For the next five minutes he and she discuss their dinner guest list and what the menu should be and which hotel should cater it.

This is an official appointment. Keep that in mind. It isn’t as though I have barged in, this was fixed for a specific time.

When he finally puts the phone down I say very gently that I have a question.

Why did you call me?

He looks puzzled. To have a meeting, of course.

I wonder. Ever since I sat down you have been on the phone while I have been picking my teeth.

He says, can’t help it.

Yes, you can. Put your calls on hold. You have an appointment which you gave.

I am leaving because I am offended.

He can’t believe it. He actually believes he has done nothing wrong.

Not so much wrong as ill mannered and thoughtless and very rude.

Yet, this is so common a conduct and I have never understood why we tolerate such poor etiquette.

If I felt you were going to give me more attention on the phone why would I have made the effort of coming in person, parking my car, taking an elevator and waiting in your anteroom.

It is not even as if the calls are important, which intrusion one can understand. They are run of the mill calls that could easily be made again.

Think of the many occasions when you have been put in this position. Sitting there playing with your collar or your buttons because this man is yammering on the telephone.

Rather like smoking. Do you mind. Yes, I do.

The next time this happens to me(and it will, be sure of that) I am going to do just that.

Please don’t answer the phone.


That’s right, we have an appointment, please keep the call on hold till we finish.

Where I come from that is merely good manners.



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