the flosser, the disrobers, and other Zoom mishaps: share your stories

More than two years into the pandemic and a lot of us still are committing gaffes on video calls — from the person flossing on video, to the kid who screamed “I’m naked and you can’t do anything about it,” to so so many incidents of disrobing. In the comment section today, let’s hear about the weirdest, most embarrassing, or funniest video call mishaps you’ve witnessed (or committed personally).

{ 950 comments… read them below }

  1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Yesterday. High corporate officer calls all-hands meeting to explain new business and marketing direction for the organization. Meeting PowerPoint is up on the screen and corporate officer is introducing the topic. HONK! Someone forgot to mute before blowing their nose. HONK AGAIN! Awkward pause. “… so could everyone mute, please?”

    1. Siege*

      The number of people I deal with who STILL have a) no idea how to mute themselves and b) no idea that it’s really quite rude to either HONK into the microphone or, you know, have the TV on, or their loud alarms, or whatever else is too d**n high.

      Meanwhile, I once ate a sandwich and a cookie with my camera on (I have an extremely poor bite so eating is an adventure in what I couldn’t bite through or drag into my mouth with my tongue) and I’m still considering entering the witness protection program.

      1. Collarbone High*

        Someone on a Very Serious Call was watching “The Price Is Right” and ignored all the frantic messages asking them to mute, so the meeting was a bizarre juxtaposition of “we will be implementing drastic changes” and “a new car!”

        1. beep beep*

          I keep coming back to this comment and cracking up. Thank you so much for bringing some joy to my workday!

          1. Le Sigh*

            When our admins are running meetings (usually for executive team members) they have straight up kicked people off of meetings for that kind of stuff. It’s beautiful.

          1. SofiaDeo*

            Well, unless the boss/admin was trying to get information used to document work inattention. Going an entire meeting with a TV show on in the background, while ignoring messages to mute oneself, documents that person isn’t paying attention IMO.

      2. anonymous73*

        In addition, the amount of people who run the meetings who don’t know that they generally have the power to mute everyone is astounding. If you’re in charge of running meetings, you should know how the software works.

        1. generic_username*

          This drives me nuts! If someone is being disruptive in a meeting, someone else generally has the ability to stop them and isn’t using it

          1. Gatomon*

            I give the facilitator 30 seconds to say/do something, and then I just mute people for them. (We use Teams, which allows anyone to mute anyone else it seems.) I also used to go shut my exbosses’ door when he would take sensitive calls on speakerphone. I can’t say I’ve ever been applauded, but I’ve also never been yelled at for my actions….

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              I was amazed to discover anyone could mute anyone on Teams calls (which is what my org uses). Even better, the person you mute can’t see it was you who muted them.

              Wield this power with wisdom, grace, and a generous hand.

        2. LC*

          Agreed, if you’re the one running it, there is absolutely zero reason to tell people multiple times that they need to be on mute or to just ignore it(!).

          A quick “I’m going to go ahead and mute everyone, make sure to unmute if you want to say something” is the very most you need.

          1. JK78*

            aww, but then my pretend drinking game would be ruined! I’d totally get wasted if I could honestly take a shot every time someone on the conference call said anything to the tune of “mute please!”

          2. KateM*

            When I sign into a call from MSTeams, it tends to tell me “there are already x number of people on call so we mute you automatically”.

          3. MigraineMonth*

            I pointed this out to a facilitator, but they thought it would be extremely rude to mute a participant.

            I think it’s rude to waste everyone’s time to repeatedly ask everyone to mute themselves when all but one of the participants have already done so and the remaining person probably doesn’t realize we’re all sitting around listening to their conversation with their spouse or the sound of them chewing.

        3. Elitist Semicolon*

          I learned the hard way not to trust that the facilitator will auto-mute everyone from the start and also not to trust that the mute icon in one particular platform will tell the truth. It was a large training run by my employer’s development arm (so full of people who have to have a sense of decorum because they court the rich folks) and I could not get the file the facilitator put in the chat to open. In my increasing frustration, I said, flatly, “I am going to lose my fucking shit” – and sure enough, “Now speaking: Elitist Semicolon” popped up on the screen. So much for the red mic with a slash through it.

          1. For the Moment*

            I specifically use a mic with a hardware mute for this reason. I swear too much to trust random bad UI software.

            I instead get the joy of never quite knowing where I’m muted, which has its own excitements. But when I mute myself on purpose, I am -muted-

            1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              Yes to that.
              I have rigged myself a neat gizmo: A foot switch I have no idea where that originally came from in the microphone line. So if I want to say something, I step on the switch. When I’m done, I lift my foot. Easy as hell and keeps my hands free for typing -we often collaborate online on documents or slides.

          2. Zelda*

            “not to trust that the mute icon in one particular platform will tell the truth […] So much for the red mic with a slash through it.”

            That whooshing sound you hear is the blood draining out of my face. What platform or platforms have a history of doing this?

            1. marketing automation guru*

              Google Meet. (I say because I have been muted-but-not-actually on that platform.)

              It’s better now, but for a while it was useless.

              1. Zelda*

                Oh CARP. All the meetings in which I am most tempted to mutter terrible and inappropriate things are in Google Meet. Well, thank you for telling me, and hardware mute/ iron restraint it is.

          3. Howard Bannister*

            I recall specifically that when my organization was working with an organization with different software that we ran into an issue.

            Not that it wasn’t working. It was working. The problem is ours showed the microphone without a slash when you were muted and with the slash when you weren’t.

            Their icon was a microphone with a slash through it. And when you clicked it then it would turn red and you were muted.

            So we all came in thinking we were on mute.

            And we were not.

            Pure chaos.

            1. Squirrel Nutkin*

              OT, but you made my day with your username, Howard Bannister! *What’s Up Doc?” is the best.

          4. ophelia*

            OH NO, I would completely die.

            I did once have a similar mute failure in a LARGE meeting while I had a kid home sick, and was trying to get Mickey Mouse Club to play on the TV. Let’s just say the TV worked and the mute button did NOT, so everyone got to hear the world’s most irritating theme song.

        4. Entertaining*

          My boss, who generally is NOT running the myriad of meetings she’s in, will teams message, or zoom message, every single person in the meeting that is not muted, and tell them to mute. Whether they’re making a sound or not!

          Thankfully I am not in her meetings and just get to see the chaos on her screen if I step in her office.

        5. Allura Vysoren*

          It drives me up the wall because the first couple years of Zoom meetings, they *would* mute everyone on the call. Recently, though, they’ve either completely forgotten how to do it or no longer have that option anymore, because we have calls with 400+ people and it’s “Can you please mute?” every five minutes.

          Of course, it’s led to some iconic moments – like a large call about a new process where someone audibly said “It’s more corporate bullshit.” My team and I have been trying to get our hands on that recording for months.

      3. AnonForThis*

        This. A now-former coworker would as recently as December 2021 do things like cough on mic, hum distractedly on mic, let her dog bark loudly without muting, etc. During one meeting she complained that her mic had been muted and I told her I had muted her because of her dog barking. No apology and she went right back to staying on a live mic.

        Fortunately most people I have meetings with know to stay on mute unless they intend to speak.

        1. generic_username*

          I was once in a meeting where someone’s dog was barking and someone else was like “Jane, your dog is distracting and cutting into the sound” and she was like, “I can’t make him stop!” but like, yes…. yes you can. Just mute yourself and none of the rest of us hear him.

          1. Le Sigh*

            This is just baffling to me. I get that some people are oblivious, but when you’re *expressly* told you’re causing a distraction, why not say “oh sorry!” and just…stay muted? The work has been done for you! I have a really hard time filtering out background noises and it makes it so hard for me to focus when this stuff happens — I’ll do it for my coworkers juggling a baby b/c day care shut down yet again and they actually have to talk. But if you’re just listening I do not want to compete with your your kids, or your TV, or your dishwasher singing the song of its people announcing that the dishes are clean.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Jane has a serious dog problem if she can’t order him to stop barking or go where he can’t be heard! Next time, tell her if she doesn’t mute you will rehome the poor dog who would be so much happier if his owner did a proper job of disciplining him.

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          Oh gosh, same! Worked with a guy who would EAT.AN. APPLE and if you muted him, he would persistently unmute himself.

          1. Usagi*

            Ughhhhh so many of my coworkers AND clients do this. They’ll be watching something in the background. I’ll tell them to mute. They wont. I’ll mute them. THEY UNMUTE THEMSELVES. Like excuse you but you don’t even have anything to say! You don’t need to stay unmuted!

            Microsoft Teams gives the presenter the option to disable people’s mics, so I’m happy to do that… but then they think that something is wrong with their connection so they’ll disconnect and reconnect. There have been meetings where I just don’t let them back in after that, and then act just as confused and concerened when they ask me about it later. “Sorry! I didn’t see you in the lobby! I’m not sure what happened!”

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Whyyyyy do they want everyone to hear them eating an apple?! Whyyy?! People are so weird sometimes.

            2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              But why not tell them you didn’t let them back in because their behaviour was too distracting? How else will they possibly learn?

        3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          I’m still waiting for a push-to-talk feature on Teams (etc.)
          This would make things so much easier – push and hold a button when you want to talk and be gracefully muted otherwise.
          I built one in hardware (a foot pedal, actually) but that does not help much when traveling-and the feature is most needed on trains, airports and other noisy environments.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            That would be beautiful in its simplicity. Just like your car won’t move forward unless your foot is on the accelerator. Anyone who can drive can master this concept.

          2. TrixM*

            It does exist, it’s pretty recent, though. Mute yourself in a chat, then press CTRL+SPACE to briefly unmute. If you have a mouse with programmable buttons, you’ll probably be able to map that to one.

            Perhaps the feature is still being rolled out worldwide. There was also a PTT script that someone made for Teams floating around.

      4. Omskivar*

        At a former workplace we were doing onboarding for nearly 200 people. In the middle of one presentation, someone managed to unmute themselves while talking on the phone and loudly said, “They said this was only supposed to be an hour long! This lady is so boring!” The presenter was not amused.

        1. it's me*

          A coworker answered a call during a product feature presentation and we heard her saying “Oh, I’m just in this really boring meeting.”

        2. Office Chinchilla*

          We were rolling out a new program and had a virtual walk-through with people from all levels of the company and someone answered the phone, which somehow unmuted them so all 500+ attendees heard her say “No, it’s fine. I can talk. I’m just in this training that. Will. Not. End.”

          1. ceiswyn*

            While hilarious, this may also be an indication that the training was not as valuable as you thought?

            1. Office Chinchilla*

              I think it was more that more people were invited than needed to be. My work means that I needed to use this program frequently, and other people’s questions also applied to me. Other people just use it once in a while and were going to forget everything that was said by the time they needed to know anyway, and were bored out of their minds.

      5. MansplainerHater*

        I worked with a woman who’s mic gave really bad feedback, but she would leave herself off mute and we’d all be shouting to hear one another. So we started anonymously muting her, but then she got upset that she’d been “silenced” and would stop participating in calls.

      6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I went back to in-person work full time in August (I’m a teacher) so now use Zoom a lot less than I had been, and I’m a bit rusty. In my virtual D&D game the other week, I had muted myself because I was eating, and then felt a sneeze coming on. I reacted quickly and …unmuted myself so I could sneeze directly into my mic. :facepalm: I’m glad it was friends and not work!

        1. Usagi*

          Hahaha that’s fantastic! I’m imagining your party is at a really dramatic part of the story, maybe the main antagonist has finally revealed themselves! “And she slowly unfurls her wings and draws her dagger… and with a wicked smile, she PLUNGES IT INTO –” *hurricane force wind noises*

        2. E*

          Ok but–and this is not Zoom related–I once sneezed directly into my coworker’s open, cupped hands. Mortifying.

          1. EC*

            OhKAY did not know putting in my email would result in my name field automatically changing to my whole-ass legal name, that’s cool. At least it’s just about a weird sneeze, I guess.

            1. DiplomaJill*

              That happened to me once and I emailed Allison and she fixed it since she’s a saint

            2. TrixM*

              If you’re using gmail or or whatever, your “display name” from your mailbox will show up.

        3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          PC: “I am silently crawling alone the dungeon corridor, keeping to the shadows to not alert the…”
          You: “a… a… achoo!”
          Hilarity ensues.

      7. Amber T*

        I gotta say, I’ve been that person who complains about people forgetting to mute… then it happened to me. I SWEAR I hit the mute button like I always do, but it wasn’t until I giggled at something on my phone did I realize that nope, was not on mute. Whoops.

        I definitely work with people who think they don’t have to mute, but I got a slice of humble pie, so when someone actually forgets, now I feel bad.

      8. Software engineer*

        At my work we use a conference system where YOU CAN MUTE OTHER PEOPLE and its a godsend. You can see who is not muted and usually see who the sound is coming from (their microphone icon lights up when they’re talking or making noise) and just mute them. While we’re taking a minute to read this thing we’re going to talk about i dont need to hear you breathing or your spouse in the background on their own work call, etc. It’s my favorite. And for meetings with a ton of people, it mutes people automatically when they join the call,

        All conference systems should have the ability to mute others. You can’t un-mute others (privacy reasons obv) but allowing anyone to mute anyone unless otherwise configured (would be a mess for remote schooling because kids will mess around) is a good feature IMO

    2. Daniel*

      I have done this MULTIPLE TIMES. I am cringing in sympathy over here (for both the nose-blower and everyone else).

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      We had a couple meetings with someone who could not comprehend how to mute and kept breathing in the mic.

      I am the Mute Fairy on my calls at this point…. making weird noises? Causing the worst echo? Having a party apparently in the background? Mute. Mute. Mute. Don’t even care who you are.

      1. just another bureaucrat*

        Mute Fairy here as well. I hate meetings where I can’t be the Mute Fairy but I am REAL quick with you know what, mute. You can have a live mic when you prove you can handle one, which is none of us, ever. Including me. I have a few people in meetings I have a pact with and we all mute each other if someone’s sitting with a live mic.

        1. For the Moment*

          My current work place has a live mic culture outside of big meetings and it makes me feel rude for constantly living on mute.

          That said, I mute myself anyway because who wants to hear me drinking water, or typing notes or that squeak in my chair or whatever. No one needs that. I don’t need that and I’m on this side of the mic.

    4. Robert in SF*

      When will either companies more thoroughly train Hosts to always mute the attendees by default at the top of the meeting when there are large groups attending, or will presenters learn that options and practice it? I get so frustrated when hosts don’t know some of the basics of what has become a very essential/mandatory tool for meeting management. All too often there are audio feedback loops, or people multi-tasking with papers and conversations, or background TV or kid or pet noises, or worse. :/

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        One Zoom setting that I use a lot is to mute everyone by default when they first enter a meeting. It’s a total life-saver when you host a lot of seminars, because nobody wants to hear the background noise of a random audience member. It takes 15 minutes max to learn this stuff and it hugely reduces the potential for annoyance.

      2. Nomayo*

        I use push to talk on voice chat when there’s an option and I accidentally did a push to sneeze and was MORTIFIED.

        Feedback, echoes, background noise. It triggers my misophonia to a degree that I cannot function.

        I do not work remotely, but we do occasionally have some e-learning and I have to get an accommodation so I can have a private space so I’m not in an open room with a bunch of people listening to the same zoom call on open speakers slightly out of sync with eachother.

        This is reminding me that I need a letter from a health practitioner to get that going.

        1. AEO*

          I believe I have misophonia as well. Teams meetings haven’t been too bad – mostly small groups with coughing etc – but I do use Discord for gaming and ppl who don’t mute or use PTT make me want to claw my eyes out.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            On Discord you can adjust the volume of other people! I love it because you can make quiet talkers louder and bring down the volume of that person with the weirdly loud mic. But you can also just totally mute someone who you don’t want to hear at all. It doesn’t solve for the problem of “I want to hear them when they have something meaningful to say but not otherwise,” but if someone is driving you bananas then you *can* boot them from your personal soundscape.

        2. Luna123*

          I’ve totally hit push-to-talk soley to sneeze into my mic before. My brain just thinks “you’re making a sound? Hit PTT”

          Luckily I was hanging out with my gaming friends, not on a work call.

        3. jane's nemesis*

          whaaaat everyone should at least be wearing headphones/earbuds in that situation!!

      3. Seriously?*

        And kids know how to do it! I was teaching with some kids in the room and some on Zoom. We read a play. To make it work and avoid feedback in the room, all participants had to unmute and mute when they had a line. But for kids in the room to hear the ones at home, I had to also mute and unmute my computer hooked to the room speakers whenever someone at home had a line. And since I read the scene directions …. It was crazy but we did it. More than once. If a class of 7th graders can make it work, you’d think adults could handle it.

        1. LizWings*

          7th graders? My 5 year old could mute and unmute herself when needed! Remote learning gave those kindergartners SKILLS!

        2. Masih*

          Kudos to doing a hybrid play read-around! I work with the same age group and you need to have huge buy-in!

      4. Hazel*

        Back in the day, when I was on a WebEx call, I forgot to mute, and I was cleaning out my desk drawers. After about 10 minutes of this, my boss texts to tell me to mute myself because it sounds like I’m cleaning out my desk drawers. I was mortified! I texted back that I was searching for a pen. For 10 minutes!? I’m a very bad liar.

    5. WestFront*

      I did this once before, but not through blowing my nose. I accidentally muttered a cuss word through Google Meet because my computer wasn’t behaving itself. Luckily, my boss was understanding and nothing came of it. But I was mortified that I forgot to mute myself.

      This happened in January 2020 right before COVID, BTW. Little did I know (as well as everyone else) how bad things would get…

      1. Hazel*

        One time on a remote meeting someone cursed very briefly, but it very loud and was certainly heard by everyone. I wondered what had made this usually calm person so upset. We all just pretended it never happened.

        1. Chirpy*

          On radios, not Zoom or anything,
          but once at work we had someone just utter a single, perfectly clear swear word. Our radios are all push and hold to talk, and this didn’t sound like an accidental bump of the button, it was pretty clearly intentional. Just really odd. The manager was not happy.

    6. not a doctor*

      After over two years of being very, very diligent about the mute button… I forgot to mute before going to the bathroom yesterday :( Not that I took the computer in with me or anything, but the flush in my bathroom is VERY loud, and I’m very sure they heard it (and *hopefully* nothing else…).

      It was a small and non-professional (basically an internal club) meeting, no one said anything AFAIK, and I said nothing, so I think we’re all just pretending it didn’t happen.

      1. Veryanon*

        I’ve done that too :(
        Everyone on the call just pretended it didn’t happen. I don’t think anyone else knew it was me, but it was sure embarrassing. I now check the mute button obsessively.

      2. Briony*

        I did this….I’m still mortified. We have to be on a discord team call for most of the day when working. We don’t talk all the time – it’s all of us muted doing our own thing but we are there if someone has a question. So I use my discord on my phone and keep myself muted. One day – ran to the bathroom quickly – thinking I was muted. I wasn’t. I don’t think they heard anything but the flush and my direct report said, “was that…..a TOILET?”
        I’m dying again now just thinking about it.

    7. Missb*

      Someone was ordering lunch at the drive thru during our monthly staff meeting with the big boss. I was frantically texting them.

    8. Allonge*

      Uh. And on the other hand just last week I still got the comment: ‘Allonge seems to be muted for some reason’. Yes, it’s a five person meeting, I am going to mute myself as a default unless I am speaking.

    9. not the burper*

      I was on a very serious conference Teams call last year (~50 representatives of different government agencies, urgent topic, etc.) when someone loudly burped into their mic. The speaker froze for a second and then we all just carried on as though nothing had happened…

    10. Chili pepper Attitude*

      I had the opposite problem!
      In our HOA mtgs, I often got in “mute wars” with the property manager. I kept myself on mute unless I needed to speak. She was the facilitator and constantly unmuted me and the one other person who knows business norms. We both told her at more than one mtg that it is common practice to mute everyone unless they were talking. But she thought that was “ridiculous! Who ever heard of muting people in a meeting!!” At more than one mtg I would mute myself, she would unmute me, I would mute myself, and on and on, up to 10 times. I would have to interrupt the mtg to ask her to stop.

      1. Usagi*

        That’s when you need to start breathing into the mic, typing constantly and loudly, etc.

    11. allathian*

      One of my favorite features on Teams is that when you run a meeting, you can mute everyone, and they won’t be able to unmute themselves! This is obviously unnecessary in most situations, but it’s perfect for meetings that are recorded.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I attend meetings where everyone was either a “presenter” (can mute/unmute, use the chat, etc.) or an “attendee” (perma-mute, can’t access chat). It worked great, except there is literally no way to ask a question; even when I signed up as a presenter for a particular presentation so I could ask a question, they demoted me to participant because I didn’t have any questions to ask before the presentation.

    12. JustaTech*

      Many years ago (before Teams and Zoom) we had a Very Important , Very Serious all-company conference call with our CEO telling us Very Serious stuff about the business.
      At my site we all gathered in the big conference room, called in and put ourselves on mute (because we could not be trusted to not provide color commentary).

      But someone, somewhere, called in from their desk. And typed. Very loudly. To the point that we could not hear the CEO. Who kept stopping to say “Whoever is typing mute yourself!” But they didn’t. And he didn’t have the ability to just mute everyone. By the time someone figured out how to mute everyone the CEO was *so mad*.

      (The only think I could possibly think is that the person called in a put the handset of their phone down on the desk so not only was the typing super loud, but also they couldn’t hear anything.)

    13. Kayem*

      On Friday, I kept asking if everyone could hear me and a few superfluous “are there any questions so far?” because everything was so dead quiet, I was sure the speakers of my cheap wireless headphones must have gone out. I’m sure the others were slightly annoyed, but it was really unnerving. Then as their supervisor and I were discussing the day’s time sheet hours, I realized why it was so quiet: The two people who were moved off my team earlier that day were also the two people who never muted their mics.

      So now I kind of want at least one person to periodically forget to mute their mic. Knowing my cheap headphones are still working is worth having to take a second to mute them from my end. Certainly worth more than having given an entire presentation with audio issues on my end.

  2. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    I work as an admin, and at this point two years into the panopticon I officially have lost all sympathy and patience for those who cannot figure out the basics of Teams/Zoom. Two years is plenty of time to learn that you need to mute your mic on a group call when you’re not speaking, or how to send a chat to the correct person.

    1. Anonym*

      Panopticon! This is now my favorite pandemic autocorrect!

      And seriously – pretty sure everyone knows how to do it. Refusing to do so is just inconsiderate at this point.

    2. Fresh Cut Grass*

      Referring to the panini as the panopticon in the context of people being unable to figure out how to present themselves when being observed feels…very fitting.

      1. short'n'stout (she/her)*

        Yeah, it took me a moment to realise that it wasn’t actually a direct reference to Zoom calls!

    3. Grammar police*

      I work, and at this point several years into everyone’s education, I officially have lost all sympathy and patience for those who cannot figure out the basics of the correct words to use in each sentence. You’ve all had plenty of time to learn.

      1. Fresh Cut Grass*

        I have officially lost all sympathy and patience for pedants who have such little faith in the intelligence of those around them that they assume that any joke must be an error committed by an imbecile.

        (P.S. I believe you missed a few words in the first sentence where you should have explained where you work.)

      2. Siege*

        Pretty sure “the basics of the correct words to use” is not grammatically correct, actually.

        (“Pretty sure” means “rock solid certainty” there.)

    4. Dr. Doll*

      Hard agree. I work at a university where we’ve had terrific tech help *and* a truckload of PAID PD for all this, so if you are still messing around it’s because you literally did not reach out your hand and pick up the money and help flooding the system.

    5. Elenna*

      This! And Webex (and I assume most other platforms) will show when you’re talking! Which means they show when your background noise is coming through, so you know that you have to mute yourself! There are a strangely large number of people who have not made that connection yet.

      1. LC*

        Teams does that for other people but it doesn’t show it for you, and that drives me batty. My headphones are pretty good at not picking up other noise, but sometimes when I’m actively participating, I don’t really want to mute/unmute/mute/unmute every five seconds if I don’t have to, but if I could tell that it was picking up the noise, I would.

        (One of the few pluses of when someone is sharing their screen but just has the meeting window pulled up, lol.)

    6. Sel*

      I also like to start my zoom meetings by reminding people to mute themselves (or be aware I will mute them if there’s any, ahem, “interference” in the meeting/presentation/discussion) and reminding them that if they use the chat function to please remember the entire transcript will be available to me at the conclusion of the meeting, including the direct person to person messages.

      I always download the chat at the end of meetings and use it with the recording to make sure the notes are accurate (particularly with planning sessions and the like) because sometimes people feel more comfortable sharing things in the chat, or want to share something after the convo has moved on, or has a link they want people to have. I’ve seen a quite few direct chat conversations that I know the participants clearly did not know anyone was ever going to see – they weren’t about me and none of my business so I just deleted them but I feel like that is a thing a LOT of people don’t know and figure it’s worth a heads up. But mainly I just want people to know if they don’t behave during my meeting I will mute them and I do not care how they feel about it.

      1. Rolly*

        – Start meetings by reminding people to mute unless speaking and other ground rules
        – Have person who is not speaking much specifically deal with mutinge people who are problematic and not muting themself; this is essential if the meeting is large
        – Do not hesitate to call out sound if there is a problem (“someone’s dog it barking – please mute yourself” – or use the name if you know who it is) which gets people to be more accountable

        And if everyone is using tech that they’ve been using for two years already the leadership of the organization should expect them to raise their game. This is not complicated. If it’s new tech, I sympathize. But if your team has been using a platform for two years, then learn it.

      2. Hazel*

        …the entire transcript will be available to me at the conclusion of the meeting, including the direct person to person messages.

        I did not know this! Thank you!

    7. Kayem*

      After this week of being subjected to views of foreheads, dog anuses, and hearing every chewing and snorting noise a human can make, I have lost all sympathy as well.

    8. Fae Kamen*

      I guess I don’t get the point of this attitude. I actually know a lot of people who still struggle with Zoom. I could get mad or I could just ask them to click the microphone.

    9. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      To be honest, I sometimes struggle with the controls on Google Meet. We use Teams (and Microsoft just loves to change things just when you built muscular memory) but a client uses Google for our three weekly calls, and that sometimes throws my game.
      I’m not exactly tech illiterate but still get fooled.

    10. Sporty Yoda*

      If I hear the phrase “can everyone see my screen?” ONE MORE TIME, I don’t even know what I’ll do.
      It’s been two years people. We have 3 meetings/week. The screen lights up red when you’re sharing. We’ll tell you if you’re muted/we can’t see your screen. Please stop starting your talks like this.

    11. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      I’m trying to figure out why Zoom/Teams don’t make it easier to push to talk. They have the “hold SHIFT (or whatever button you choose” to unmute but even if you change it to a key you’re less likely to use it doesn’t quite work like mouse or keyboard shortcuts in Discord and it drives me batty.

      Gamers figured this out a decade ago; please catch up business tech.

  3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Not me, but my sibling. On a conference call with the execs in another country so fairly high level. Somehow the household system heard a discussion of accounts payable as ‘Alexa, pull my finger’ and started making loud farting noises.

    My nephew (also at home) found this hysterical, sibling not so much.

    1. Square Root of Minus One*

      I’m not usually the kind to laugh at fart jokes.
      But I’m like your nephew this time. Sorry for your sibling but I have tears in my eyes.

    2. BA*

      Oh. My. Goodness. This is incredibly funny.

      I’m sorry for your sibling’s mishap, but so appreciate the story so I can run with this one when the kids are home from school.

    3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

      On a similar note I have to remind people to turn their Alexa/Echo off for meetings because my name actually is Alexa (and I tease my mom for it all the time now since I hated as a kid I couldn’t ever find my name on anything but now it’s everywhere).

      1. Elenna*

        Not a meeting thing but I read a fanfic where one of the main characters was called Alexa (an original character who was created before, well, Alexa) and when the author started a new story featuring that character, they made sure to say in the first chapter “if you have both Alexa and text to speech going, you should probably turn one of them off”.

        1. LC*

          Someone I am in a ton of meetings with has an Alexa that seems to start talking for no apparent reason. Definitely no one within my ear shot says the name, his camera is usually on and I’ve never seen anyone or anyone indication that someone else is in the room, it just starts … talking.

          The only time mine says anything without a prompt is if I’d set an alarm or a reminder or something, but that’s not what happens here, it’s like his is responding to someone.

          Happens all the time, and honestly kind of freaks me.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            I have one that I never use but it responds randomly to the tv. But only the tv in the other room, so…yeah.

      2. Merrie*

        Alexa was our alternative girls name when expecting both our boys, but we never did have another girl and now have closed up shop on that operation. Now I’m kind of glad, though, because I do think it’s a nice name (obviously, as I considered it for my child) but I feel like it could get awfully confusing and frustrating for a kid.

    4. PerplexedPigeon*

      Yeppers…I was teaching from home early in the pandemic when I realized that one of my students was named Alexa. That went well the first time I called role…

      Also, there’s no good way to say “Alexa, turn off” in a stern voice without it being awkward since the Alexa is yakking at you as you try to explain to the student that you weren’t being stern with her but with the Alexa in the room. And then…there was the discussion about why we name AI with women’s names and not men’s and why we feel comfortable yelling at them or at Jeeves the butler in ways we might not feel ok about yelling at Steven the CEO of the house if that was an option.

      Did I mention I was teaching Feminism and Women’s History??

      1. PotatoEngineer*

        We use women’s names in computer voices for one reason: money.
        Men react well to a woman’s voice, and badly to a man’s voice.
        Women react well to a man’s voice, and okay to a woman’s voice.
        So to make the most people happy (to get the most people spending money on you), you use a woman’s voice, because you get good reactions from men, and okay reactions from women. This decision happens Every Single Time. A particularly large service will set up multiple voices, but if you’re only going to have one, it’ll be a woman’s voice.

    5. INoG*

      We empathize. Since working form home we hae experienced this multipe times a day.
      So we have changed our “wake word” for all of the Amazon Alexa devices within hearing distance of my workspace to Ziggy. Works almost to well as it has to be pronounced with a hard “Z” to wake up. Silence reigns and no longer do we have incidents of “Alexa” butting in on work calls they were not invited to.

      1. Hazel*

        Someone I know used to get on Zoom calls – I think they were group social things, not for work – and say very sternly, “Alexa, play .” Suddenly, everyone’s Alexa would start playing music!

  4. GRA*

    Reading the comment section on the “I’m naked and you can’t do anything about it!” link is wild. February 2020 … we really didn’t know just how bad things were going to get.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      Oh my goodness! That is such a flashback to how work “used to be”. I wonder how many people would approach that situation differently now (even without issues with childcare/schools closing due to covid).

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Came here to write this exact thing. All the “this is really not something that should happen…there is no reason for…it is expected.” I got curious about when it was from, thinking 2014 of something. 2020. February 2020.
      “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.”

    3. Generic Name*

      Ha, yeah I thought to myself that it seemed very pre-pandemic. One commenter even opined that you CAN put a “mute button” on a child in the form of “instilling discipline and politeness” or something. They either have no children (and don’t know any), or have the world’s most docile and complaint child.

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        Children’s Benadryl… it’s not just for allergies.

        (But seriously don’t sedate your children to keep then quiet during meetings).

        1. Sales Geek*

          My parents gave me a tablespoon of Jack Daniels for “colic.” Explains a lot later in life…

          1. Dancing Otter*

            Scotch for teething.
            Rubbed on gum, not to drink. Well, maybe for THEM to drink.

      2. Out of Office - @ The Beach*

        IMO… there is nothing worse than a boring kid.
        No, kids do not come with an “off-switch” – That’s why I like starting the chaos.
        – Easy for me to say since I don’t have any :)
        Real life has been happening in our backgrounds.
        You can’t get away from it.
        Why would you want to?

      3. Artemesia*

        I worked with academics and the psychologists with one daughter were all experts on child rearing. My boss who had 6 kids had very little advice to give except — you can pay now or pay later. (his most easy going high achieving paragon throughout high school was the one who had a drug problem in his late 20s)

    4. quill*

      God the number of people thinking it wouldn’t be “that bad” if the airplane didn’t land in china, in regards to the guy who canceled his flight…

      We were different people 2 years ago.

    5. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Yes! It’s such a wild time capsule. People talking about how masks aren’t really all that useful because “they encourage you to touch your face more.” Which made so much sense at the time but now that I look back on it I’m like, wtf??

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I admit that when I first started masking up, I was fiddling with it and touching my face all the time. Not so much now.

    6. Claire*

      I wish we could get new updates to all of those letters two years later, whether it’s the parent working from home or the person who’s company didn’t want someone backing out international travel.

    7. Lemonwhirl*

      Yes! That one was like opening a time capsule of the distant past. I REALLY want a follow-up from that poster about what happened a month later and how their supervisor handled things then.

      Talk about dramatic foreshadowing!!!

  5. Anonsy*

    I spent one half day long call (training session) watching a lady zooming on her cell phone video wandering around living her life. She often left herself unmuted. Some highlights:
    – Stared at her ceiling fan for a half hour at one point.
    – Watched her tool around her kitchen making breakfast and coffee with her husband. (Has a double oven.)
    – Hung out with her in her bathroom as she did her make up.
    – Got to go along with her on her morning walk, watching either the sky and occasional tree, or randomly the ground. (Bonus heard her chat with her neighbor on the walk because of her unmuting problems)

    Honestly provided a lot of hilarious chat fodder in a slack chat of 3 of us being tortured by the session as 3 tech people surrounded by a group of non-tech people.

    Punchline of this entire thing: The meeting was mostly focused on how to hold our meetings on Zoom.

    1. LC*

      My initial response was to be horrified that you needed to attend a half day training on how to do meetings on Zoom, but then I considered what I just read and …. well okay it makes sense.

      (I mean, still not really, a whole freaking half day?! That’s bonkers! Seriously, what do they even go on about for that long? Thank goodness you had some entertainment and a few colleagues to talk with!)

      1. OrigCassandra*

        I was part of a multi-phase research project that had to move planned focus groups to Zoom because pandemic. We actually did a lot of investigating settings and writing documentation and checklists, because Zoom settings — well, there are a WHOLE LOT of them, especially for meeting owners, and they sometimes interact in extremely weird ways.

        So I can see running a half-day, but it’d have to go pretty deeply into Zoom arcana before I can think it’d be worth the time.

        1. LC*

          … Yeah, okay, I can actually see the benefit of a one-time meeting like that, particularly if it’s a big org and the info will be disseminated out to everyone else.

          And I’d imagine there was actually a fair amount of participation, rather than just listening to someone drone on for four hours about how to use Zoom, which is what I initially pictured.

      2. Anonsy*

        Bless their hearts the people who ran this stuff meant well but given the fact I spent an hour of that meeting in a breakout about “this one in person role where all you do is set up the room and order food really can’t be done, so what do you think we should have this person do instead of that” I was not filled with optimism about the future state of some of the stuff these people manage.

    2. Merci Dee*

      I have a double oven. I love it for holiday baking.

      But I would not be using it for baking during a Zoom meeting about how to have Zoom meetings. The irony would just be too much.

      1. Anonsy*

        I’m jealous, I adore baking and someday would like a double oven, bonus if they’re convection and I can just bake all the cookies at once instead of spending hours doing that.

    3. Lady Glittersparkles*

      Oh nooo. I have done all of these things in long trainings with camera and mic off and would be horrified to discover that they weren’t actually off. But I’m paranoid and double check that kind of thing. I wonder if she ever found out that everyone could see/hear her!

      1. Anonsy*

        I 100% think she didn’t care, with a possible she didn’t realize phone zoom was still zoom with video instead of a phone call into zoom. The presenters never figured out how to mute her given how many times they asked people to mute themselves, but she went off and on mute several times but never for speaking herself.

        1. Nannerdoodle*

          I love that in this meeting about how to run Zoom meetings, the presenters didn’t know how to mute someone. It’s one of the easiest things for the Zoom host to do!

    4. Peachtree*

      Wow, this was a complete failure on the course convenor/ or trainer – she should have been directly spoken to! If people don’t tackle bad behaviour then, tbh, I feel like they deserve to sit through times like this.

    5. Erin C.*

      We have an employee that will often get up and walk around her apartment holding her laptop because she “gets restless.” I finally broke down and played ignorant one day and messaged her “oops, you left your camera on.” She was worried we’d seen her boyfriend walk by in the background. Couldn’t care less about the boyfriend, the walking was making us all dizzy.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m just glad you didn’t see her hop on the toilet while she was in the bathroom :-0

    7. Retired Library Lady*

      “– Hung out with her in her bathroom as she did her make up.”

      I can’t begin to express how relieved I was when I got to the last 3 words of this one. A sentence that begins with “Hung out with her in her bathroom as she…” could go to some pretty horrifying places. So glad this didn’t go anywhere worse than makeup!

    8. Berkeleyfarm*

      This is really incredible.

      (I know someone who used to have a lot of phone meetings for her work – statewide org – and said that she was often making dinner during them. She no doubt transferred to the Zoom era with flying colors.)

    9. Happily Retired*

      I learned about Zoom (or so I thought) during Covid on multiple sessions from our local county Extension Master Gardeners group. Just link in, sit back, twirl in my chair, and balance my checkbook. The perfect meeting, right? I didn’t realize at the time how well-managed it was.

      And then last summer I realized that I was tired of wrestling the world’s problems alone and began attending a local church that had just started having (masked and distanced) in-person services after 14 months on Zoom, which I had never attended. This was great for about 2-3 months before Delta hit, and back we went remote.

      So the first Sunday remote (my first time), I linked in, and there I was on screen, in my nightgown, in bed, propped up on pillows, scratching my uncombed hair, and slurping on my coffee. Frantic clicking ensued, a blank window while I got dressed (boy, was I careful about THAT), and then I was back on, a bit more presentable.

      I think a lot of people believe that they understand this stuff, until they find out that they didn’t. whew

  6. WavyGravy*

    In a final round interview, my cat jumped onto the table, flashed her butt to the camera and wasn’t super feeling like walking away. I snatched her away and apologized profusely. Gentle reader, I got the job.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      William Catner (my obstreperous tuxedo) loves to show his backside to anyone on camera and did it during a few interviews!

      When a 13kg cat leaps up onto your lap it’s kinda hard to ignore.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I love that your cat is called William Catner. I’ve never let my Star Trek-loving husband have sole pick of the pet names, or he would have probably called all of them something like Kobayashi Maru Scenario. ;)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’m the Trekkie in the household thankfully! Husband is a Star Wars fan and wanted to call the cat Vader.

          1. Caroline Bowman*

            We have a Vader next door. His dog brother from another mother is called Chewie AND LOOKS LIKE CHEWIE.

            They are both adorable.

            1. CatLadyAnon*

              Our neighbors name their cats after their favorite TV show characters (which is also something we do!). They have Walter White (he’s a white Manx), June (Handmaid’s Tale), Dexter, and T-Rex (Lego Camp Cretaceous, I guess?).
              We have Grady (Sanford & Son), Violet (Downton Abbey), and we had Veronicat Mars and Sherlock, but they have passed on, so we have no more Detective Cats. We also have Pipsqueak, who defied our naming conventions by refusing to let the names Dahlia Oprah (Suburgatory) OR Khaleesi fit her.

              My husband really wants to name our next cat Lamont, but I have forbidden it. Probably we’ll end up with a Guillermo or Nadja (but Nandor or Jackie Daytona are also possible depending on the cat’s purrsonality).

                1. CatLadyAnon*

                  That sounds like our Sherlock. He was a huge fluffy orange creamsicle cat with the tiiiiiniest meow.

                  I love all cats, but the big orange ones with tiny meows have a special place in my heart.

                1. SeluciaMD*

                  Yes! Such a superlative cat name! (And awesome show up until that last episode on Hulu. But I won’t go there in this thread.)

              1. Just Here for the Cake*

                My cat is named Steve after the character in Stranger Things! I love animals with people names!

              2. Jam on Toast*

                We found a kitten this past summer. They’d been dumped on the roadside near our farm. It was a girl, so we named it Allis Chalmers, after the tractor company. The receptionist at the vet’s office was a little confused. “Wait? Your cat has a middle name?? And you spell Alice A-L-L-I-S?” but the technician, who grew up in the country, totally got the joke and just howled.

          2. Bronze Betty*

            I also love your cat’s name. Our dog is named Tiberius. It’s fun to find out who’s a real Star Trek fan by their reaction on hearing his name.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              My husband reminded me that some neighbours of a relative of his once owned dogs called Kira and Odo. Seven of Nine (further down this thread) is also a great pet name.

            2. Lauren*

              Either a Star Trek fan or an ancient Roman history nerd, which is a win-win in my book.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            We have mostly owned dogs but that would be a totally awesome cat name, as would Vader…

            1. Nea*

              There’s a guy who raises halal goats around here who let his little girl name his big black stud goat.

              Darth Vader.

          1. Arabella Flynn*

            Kobayashi Maru is already a boat name! The suffix -maru is for the name of a sailing vessel in Japanese. “Kobayashi” means “little forest” or “small woods”. The intended image is of a little wooden toy boat bobbing along, hopelessly outclassed by the armed warships in the scenario.

      2. Siege*

        Everyone I zoom with regularly expects my cats to make an appearance. I’m torn between being upset by the number of people who think I have one cat (one is all black and one is a near-perfect tuxedo, so a lot of white, and also the tux is literally twice as big as the black cat) and upset by the number who can tell I have two cats because it means I spend too much time Zooming with them. Fortunately, my cats have dignity and I believe there have been two total instances of backside-sharing since the pandemic started.

        1. Joanna*

          My Ginger cat has no dignity. And I probably should have realized that the camera level was on par with, well, something I don’t think my coworkers needed to be subjected too. I grabbed him as soon as I realized what was being displayed, but alas…it was too late.

        2. Teapot Librarian*

          My boss was very upset when neither of my cats attended a recent staff meeting. I had to explain that she’d scheduled the meeting during one of their regular nap times. (I did preemptively keep the cats out of the room during job interviews, but other than that, the cats are more likely to want to come into the room if I’ve closed the door. They have serious FOMO.)

          1. SweetFancyPancakes*

            “A door is a thing cats are always on the wrong side of.” I can’t remember where I read (heard?) that, but it is one of the universe’s truisms.

            1. Teapot Librarian*

              I had to replace the wall to wall carpeting in my bedrooms with hardwood flooring thanks to the combination of this truism and trying to do slow introductions between my cats and foster kitties.

            2. consuela*

              such a good line!!! one version i know is by t. s. eliot — the rum tum tugger, from “old possom’s book of practical cats” …

              “The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
              When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
              He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
              And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.”

            3. SLG*

              I recently read a novel where the heroine travels from one world to another through literal doors. All the worlds are full of different magical creatures. There’s a footnote explaining that there are cats in every world, and anyone who understands how cats behave around doors will understand why. I guffawed.

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I thought, “That’s not that heavy for a cat” until I noticed the “kg.” American readers, that’s over 28 lbs.

        That’s….a large cat.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, one of my cousins has an adorable silver tabby Maine Coon called Siri, she’s about that size. She’s heavy enough to make the floorboards of their old house creak!

        1. Sharpie*

          I love your cat already and I’ve never met her! (Major Kira is my all-time favourite Star Trek character, closely followed by Odo.)

      4. The answer is (probably) 42*

        I’m just here to tell you that my cats are named Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (and a fourth one named Schrodinger who joined us later)

      5. Rebecca Stewart*

        My boyfriend was teaching Python online last year, and our black cat Nyx believed that every session needed to show the world and anyone on the call that she has the most lovely satin-coated sleek rear end in the world.

        On a day to day basis, writing, posting, and gaming are all enhanced with a sleek black cat standing between you and the monitor. At least she thinks so.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband did his first ever camera-required meeting yesterday, he and his supervisor were interviewing a candidate, and his dippy one-eyed cat decided that that was the perfect time to claim the camera as hers and start head-butting it and purring like a thunderstorm right into it.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          The applicant accepted the position about four hours after the interview, so clearly they didn’t mind the cat :)

    3. Liv*

      I’m hiring at the moment and so doing a lot of interviews with candidates. There has not been a single one where my cat hasn’t, at some point in the 90 minutes, insisted on walking across my laptop repeatedly and video-bombing me.

      At that point I usually tell candidates that if they have pets and they’re successful in getting the role, I demand appearances from dogs and cats on video meetings!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I love seeing people’s pets on video calls! My dog knows how to open most of the doors in our house (sigh), and once while I was on a call he opened the door to my office and walked in. But since he’s not big enough to be in shot for the camera, it just looked like the door had mysteriously opened itself.

        And a few weeks ago, my boss’s dog wandered into shot on a call (this dog is sometimes audible on calls, but rarely visible) and I greeted the dog by name. She turned to the camera and looked very surprised. It was incredibly cute.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          Most of our meetings are camera off but my boss’ Siamese is rather well known in the department now as she is VERY talkative.

          When we were doing more camera on, we had a dev whose five year old would come and hang out with her – kid was an honorary member of the department.

          1. SeluciaMD*

            This is one of my favorite things about doing so many zoom/Google meetings. I work for an organization that is focused on issues and programs that support kids and families so we’re very family-first in the best way and our ED has given lots of flex and grace to all the parents who have often had to be full-time employees and also full-time remote learning coordinators for their kiddos. So we’ve gotten to “meet” and regularly see each other’s kids, pets, SO’s, and homes. My dog hangs out on a chair behind my desk that’s often visible on camera and now people are always asking “where’s Lu?” if she’s not there. And my colleagues’ kids often want to pop on camera when they are on meetings and say hi to everyone, which we love. I realize it’s the kind of thing that would not fly in a lot of offices, but it’s so on brand for our team. :)

            1. Berkeleyfarm*

              My own meezer has made the occasional appearance although one silver lining of her arthritis at her advanced age is that she doesn’t jump on the keyboard. She also has me trained to the point where she silently taps my ankle if she is hungry or wants attention. The “I am not a cat” joke got big play in our group. But yeah it has been great to see the pets and kids. A couple of my co-workers have taken to doing the school run with their kids and have said it’s been great to spend that time with them. At least one team is going to be more or less permanently “remote”. I’m staying hybrid as long as I can to spend time with the almost 18 yo cat.

              Our director has an educator spouse and two school age kids … he knew the struggles and was clear about “you need to take care of your safety and your family first”. We are staying hybrid for the medium term. We have a reasonable project tracking tool and regular check ins so he knows that stuff is getting done, and at a high level.

      2. Not that other person you didn't like*

        I was in a large (like 20 person) progressional but not work call and two of us had identical tiny lap dogs. Our windows appeared near each other and it derailed the entire meeting while everyone commented and cooed at the dogs. We pretended to pass the dog back and forth to one another like there was one little (confused) dog being transported through the internet. Best. Zoom. Ever.

        1. Siege*

          One of the women in my semi-professional group has a black cat, as do I. We’ve “passed the cat” more than once. :)

    4. Not my real name*

      This happened to me in an interview this week. Twice. I haven’t heard back, but am not optimistic about my chances for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with my cat’s butt.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Early on in lockdown I was in a zoom meeting with a client and another lawyer . My cat was snoozing (out of shot) in the same room.
      The client apparently had a vey yappy little dog, which came running into the room , jumped up and started barking at the screen. My poor cat shot up and made a run for it, so the other participants got a shot of his shooting across in front of my screen. (He was normally unfazed by the sound of barking dogs – my neighbours have dogs , but he wasn’t used to them inside the house sneaking up on him when he was sleeping)

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        My colleagues’ dogs set each other off–the Border Collie in Orange County barks, and the Boxer in Denver replies, and sometimes the mutts in Florida and New Mexico join in, too.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had a video interview on Tuesday where halfway through, the interviewer stopped, apologized, said “My dog is having a moment,” and brought up the cutest spaniel I’ve ever seen. The dog’s name was Cyndi Lauper and she was a very good girl. <3

      Butt shots aside, it's a Zoom rule now that if you have a pet, it must appear on camera at least once during the call. :D

      (PS — I did not get the job but that's okay because the whole situation felt very iffy and I don't really want to move 1200 miles for a job that might not even exist in six months.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Also, there is a former LA Times columnist who left the paper and has been doing segments on KTLA. He and his wife have a foster-fail kitten named Lupin who is regularly featured in his segments via a cat bed on the desk in the background. Not long ago, one of the anchors said, “Well we know everyone is only watching you to see Lupin,” and he was not wrong, lol.

      2. Queen of the Introverts*

        We have a dedicated Pets channel on Teams. My coworkers don’t mind seeing my cat, but I usually turn off my camera once he starts crawling up my shoulders on to my head. Somewhat distracting for them, very distracting for me.

    7. nonee*

      Ahhh I feel so bad, I was interviewing to fill a role on my team and every time my cat made an appearance – maybe 10 times in the 40 minutes? – the candidate got the nervous giggles.

      We didn’t hire him, but certainly not because of this!

    8. BoratVoiceMyWife*

      My cat must be doing it wrong because this has easily happened to me a dozen times with no resultant job offers?

    9. Cats > People*

      In my first call with our new Chair (and several other members of senior leadership) as I was briefing her on some of the matters I’m handling, my 5-month old kitten did the same thing. He normally just sleeps while I’m on calls and shutting him out of the office is worse because he scratches and meows to get back in. During this particular call, however, he decided to start batting at the cord of the window blinds and chasing his tail on the window ledge next to my desk (but out of camera view) which led him to fall off of said ledge, causing an audible thud. Meanwhile I’m trying to stay focused on what I’m saying while also using my off camera arm to try and shoo him away…which led him to jump up on my desk and make his on camera appearance. Luckily everyone was amused and understanding about the disruption.

    10. Spines*

      All the pets-in-calls conversation reminds me of two virtual meeting things that happened recently:
      1. A major project at work was completely cancelled a few months ago, and the alumni from that project were meeting to discuss next steps, commiserate, etc. One person’s dog wandered through the background, and, within 5 minutes, everyone’s cameras were on, but trained on their pets, so the gallery of participants was just one animal face (or butt, or whatever, as the case may be) after another. Best meeting in, like, a year.

      2. Just last week, a couple of minutes after a meeting had started, we heard this loud scratching/scraping noise. After about 15 seconds of this, the meeting host said, in a friendly, light tone, “Jane, are you moving furniture over there?” …To which Jane replied, “Oh, no, I’m just in the other room scooping out my cat box.”

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        One of my colleagues has started fostering kittens and our team meetings have improved 1000%.

    11. TypityTypeType*

      One of my cats is addicted to these little pompom toys. And such is his love for them that he can’t play with them without singing about his devotion, at the top of his little kitty lungs.

      So I’m on a Zoom call with my grandboss — I get to talk to the guy maybe once every couple of years — and an unearthly wailing begins. I just hope it will stop quickly, but nope: Giacomo (the cat) comes marching in with a pompom in his teeth, shrieking his joy and triumph.

      Grandboss, concerned: “Is that, uh, something you need to take care of?”
      Me: “Oh, sorry, no, he just kind of … does that. It doesn’t mean anything, really. We’ve gotten used to it.”

      I think Grandboss was afraid for a moment I was ignoring genuine kitty distress for the sake of the call — but I’m not *that* dedicated to my job!

      1. Zephy*

        First: excellent cat name.

        Second: one of mine does this, too, just makes sounds while he’s playing. He’s not seeking attention, he’s not in distress, he just likes to sing the song of his people while playing with his favorite toy.

        We were only fully remote for about ten weeks at the start of the pandemic, with a few months of split in-office/WFH, and I had to interrupt several meetings to say “excuse me, I need to go fish a cat out of the kitchen, I’ll be right back.”

        1. CatLadyAnon*

          I had a cat that also had to sing the song of her people at least once in the morning and once in the evening, but she HAD to be carrying around one of her two favorite toys. Fortunately, we could tell her to stop and she actually would.

          She was the best cat.

        1. TypityTypeType*

          Aww! He’s a sweetheart, and, despite his pompom-related eccentricities, a very clever kitty.

    12. why it gotta be this way*

      I was sitting on the couch (because I didn’t have an office, or even a desk) during my very first video call with my boss after our office building closed. Our cat walked along the back of the couch, and showed his butt to my boss right next to my face. What an impression hahaha!

    13. UKDancer*

      I’ve seen many cat bums during zoom meetings. They are quite amusing and cats have the unerring ability to pick the worst time to get in front of the camera and display their posteriors.

      Nothing particularly amusing has ever happened on any of my calls. I had one with a chap whose husband came in during the call and said loudly “hey cutiepie want to stop work and get naked” because he didn’t realise there was a zoom going on. So we all fell about laughing. They were newly married so it was actually quite sweet. We all thought it was rather romantic.

    14. Ann Onymous*

      I was meeting with one of my coworkers over zoom when his dog decided to hop up on his lap and start licking his ears.

      1. Team Oxford Comma*

        The cats are getting way too much attention on this thread. When the pandemic started, I worked from home with my slightly obese, geriatric corgi who was the best WFH companion ever. He would dutifully report to his “corner office” promptly every morning (his dog bed in the corner of the dining room, about 2 ft away from where I worked day.) I thought he was so well behaved that no one even knew I had a pet in my workspace, until someone asked me what that weird sound was in the background when I was speaking. Y’all…they could hear him snoring. After that, they would ask to see him. He was always there, snoring away. He was the goodest boy.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Yup. My dog snores the loudest when I’m trying to speak, and am therefore unmuted, on Zoom calls.

          1. Captain Swan*

            Our new dog, Eris, decided that the best time to bark was during my weekly staff meeting during the part where I have to speak. Since she would not be quiet, one of my coworkers IMed the group that perhaps the meeting leader should call on my dog who clearly wants to contribute.
            At this point, we are kind of all used to background noise and think things like this are funny.

      2. WhiskyTangoFoxtrot*

        My rabbit sits on my lap during Zoom calls, and usually all anyone can see of her is the tips of her ears at the bottom of the screen. But every once in a while, she’ll jump on my shoulder for pets and start licking my face. It tends to stop conversations because she’s so fuzzy, people can’t figure out what kind of animal she is.

    15. Sharpiee*

      Cats were the unsung heroes of the pandemic lol. A lot of Zoom meetings devolved into a cat show and tell. Much appreciated moments of levity during those stressful early days…..

      1. Sharpiee*

        I should amend my response. All pets were the unsung heroes lol. I just happened to see more cats than anything else.

    16. GermanCoffeeGirl*

      I was conducting a Zoom interview when my cat got the snuggles and WOULD NOT STOP pestering me for pets/giving me head butts. At some point I gently tried to shoo her away without causing too much of scene, which resulted in me yeeting her over my shoulder and disrupting the entire interview, since another interviewer saw all of it and had a very long giggle fit.

    17. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      I was presenting to my Great GrandBoss when one of our cats decided to jump up on the desk and hang out on the keyboard. Trying to casually remove him mid sentence ended up with him catching a claw on the keyboard, dragging the keyboard into my full water glass, and knocking the glass over to douse my laptop. The laptop blue screened and died, which meant I had to dial in via phone and present from memory.

      It then took several weeks and some back door shenanigans to navigate the bureaucratic nightmare of replacing a water damaged laptop.

      While they are adorable, we no longer allow our cats on the desk.

      1. Asenath*

        How to you keep them off? I THINK mine understand “Down”, but couldn’t prove it, and the layout means that catching them and locking them in the space with the cat litter can be bit challenging.

        Only yesterday, Zoom disappeared from my screen and I had to scramble to get it back and then said apologetically that I hope they could hear me again because my cat walked across the keyboard. No one seemed to mind, except me. I need some kind of telepathic interface for my computer. Cats do weird things to computers when they walk across/pounce on/lay their big furry behinds on the keyboard.

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          We started clapping and saying “no” anytime they got on the desk. After muting the phone.

        2. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          Both of mine were trained to stay off it the same way I trained them to stay off the dining room table and the kitchen counters. Which to say, is they *mostly* didn’t get up there and hopped off in a hurry when I caught them sitting in places they knew they weren’t supposed to be.

          I train like One of the Spreadsheet Horde. So much time saying “no!” and removing them.

    18. JaneB*

      My cat has acquired the title “assistant student welfare officer” for how often he shows up in calls. I have had students request to call at a time when he’ll be awake so they can see him. He gets more hellos and responses in the chat than I do in some classes (I’m a university lecturer still partially remote)

    19. Shira Von Doom*

      I admitted to my attorneys recently that I don’t like wfh…because I have 4 cats, and the 2 young ones (a year old this month) and one of the adults apparently take that as a challenge to be MORE on my desk, MORE on me, MORE over me, stomp on the work laptop keyboard and close the browser…it’s a lot, LOL

      The young ones are chaotic at times when I’m home normally, but I stg, they ramp it up when I have 2 laptops open on my desk and am trying to talk to someone on the wired headset, LOL

      Also, since we are offering names, my cats are, in order of age: Hawkeye (the Jorts of the household…he is very orange), Moira (brown tabby…sweet to me, not the biggest fan of the kittens still, LOL), and Jupiter and Waffle (orange girl siblings)

  7. sequitur*

    Not a gaffe exactly, but the absolute best thing I saw on Zoom during 2020 while schools were closed here was a coworker’s son RIDING INTO HER OFFICE ATOP THE FAMILY DOG while we were on a call together.

    Fortunately it was a small kid, big dog kind of scenario. She was mortified, and I was cracking up; I just can’t imagine a stronger bid for maternal attention during the weird boundary-bleeding time that was the early pandemic than riding in on the dog. It remains one of my favourite work memories from that era.

    1. Muteaholic*

      In the early days of the pandemic I had a standing call with a client that was audio only. Think back to your elementary school days when you were in a big classroom with metal desks and nothing to dampen the sound. One client always took calls from a room that sounded like that — you’d hear the feet of her chair sliding around and every noise sounded metallic. But to make matters worse, it seemed as if she’d set her phone down next to her computer, put it on speaker and then type while the call was going on. So you’d hear banging the entire time. We’d stop the call and remind everyone to mute themselves repeatedly but…it rarely helped.

    2. JustAnotherKate*

      Ha, this reminds me of that commercial with the talking baby who’s been relegated to his crib because riding the dog is apparently FROWNED UPON in this establishment…kind of irritating, but funnier. And much funnier actually seeing it on a call!

  8. The Muting Bandit*

    Not a great story but as a service to society I will personally find and mute people who are rustling around. Before you do this, find out if the tool you are using will notify them the name of the muter – some people want to be rustling around annoying everyone.

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I too am a muting bandit. I have done it to people above and below me in the org chart with no compunction. Not when they’re talking obviously, but if their ambient noise is causing problems? MUTE! I cop to it when asked too. Hasn’t happened much, but I’ve just owned it as a quirk. My immediate team knows I do it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood, CTA*

        Our Teams settings don’t allow guerilla muting, and I’m usually not the meeting leader. I end up sending side messages. The most memorable were ‘Could you put a cover over your bird cage?’ And ‘ Nice cabinets! You’re muted but the phone camera turned itself on and we’re getting a tour of your kitchen.”

        1. marketing automation guru*

          Oh man, my bird would not appreciate being covered.

          He mostly hangs out with my husband, because birds are picky and have favorite people.

          But I do sometimes have to go take the bird from him and go to my office, because the bird is being a nuisance – generally a sign he needs a time out.

          (Birds are a lot like toddlers.)

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            My snake has a playpen so that if he’s desperate for a slither while I’m zoom, he can go in there. Despite being silent and not very smart, he’s also remarkably toddler-like (always wants to go play in the one place he’s not allowed to, won’t be convinced otherwise, gets in a strop if you try to redirect him).

      2. JustAClarifier*

        I do the same thing and feel no shame, though people are always shocked.
        Presenter: Can whomever is making noise please mute? ….Can you please mute? ….Someone is making noise, please mute? …..Please mute, everyone
        Me: (mutes them)
        Presenter and person I muted: (surprised Pikachu face)

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          I’m an elementary school teacher. We ran our weekly all-school assemblies on Zoom last year (we did one day a week of remote learning all year even when we came back to campus for the other four). It took FIVE PEOPLE to run the assembly: the music teacher to lead songs; the principal to lead everything else; me to run the slideshow with song lyrics, visuals, etc; the assistant principal to let people in from the waiting room; and the diversity coordinator to be on permanent mute/unmute duty for whoever was supposed to be talking. Now we’re back on campus and it takes just the music teacher and the principal to do an assembly!

      3. PeanutButter*

        Same – I have also (very, very rarely) been the unintentional rustler! I appreciated my coworker muting me, and would not have been annoyed or anything if someone “lower” on the org chart had muted me. I view it kind of like noticing someone is trailing TP on their shoe and discreetly stepping on the end to keep them from being embarrassed.

      4. Anne of Mean Gables*

        I lead a lot of large meetings, and I’ve developed an MO of cheerfully announcing via chat that I’m going to be ruthless about muting everyone but the speaker, and please feel free to unmute yourself if you actually want to speak in the meeting rather than regale us with your background noise.

    2. LC*

      I do the same! I find it less disruptive to do that than to interrupt the meeting and either do the “Hey Cecil, would you mind muting?” thing or the (passive aggressive but sometimes feels more necessary even though it’s obviously a lie because we can see where sound in coming from) “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I think someone may be unmuted, I’m hearing a lot of background noise” thing.

      Only one time has that person started speaking to the group afterwards, not realizing they were muted. It was a serial non-muter, I think they were confused, lol.

      And honestly I’d be grateful to anyone who muted me on the chance that I didn’t myself.

      (Although I never really considered whether or not they can see who did it … I’m curious if that would have prevented me from doing it ever. At least where I am now, I’m not sure it would.)

    3. Siege*

      I am absolutely the Homicidal Muter. Turns out, unpleasant noises on Zoom triggers my misophonia exactly the same way whispering in a movie theater does. Even noises that don’t bother me in real life bother me A LOT on Zoom. So do not give me co-host unless you want a silent meeting, because you’ll get it.

      1. The Muting Bandit*

        I have attention issues and people making a bunch of side noises means I cannot focus so I am with you!

      2. LC*

        Ooh you can only do that on Zoom if you’re a co-host? That actually makes sense, I was surprised the first time I tried on Teams and noticed that I, a random participant, could mute other people. Thank goodness for that though, the unaware background noises absolutely kill any chance of my ADHD brain being able to process what I’m hearing.

      3. Silvercat*

        OMG. We had a meeting while a coworker was eating lunch and I could hear her chewing and just wanted to scream.

      4. lilsheba*

        ASMR must drive you crazy! I know the whispering that everyone does on that drives ME nuts I hate it.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      Mute bandits unite!!

      I had someone relatively higher up (at least than me) causing a horrendous echo feedback. I kept muting them. It was so bad no one could talk or understand anything happening. Pretty sure my boss figured out what I was doing and was cracking up (in approval).

    5. Princess Leia*

      OMG, I do this ALL THE TIME. I work on Teams so no one knows it’s me, but the SECOND you start making noise, I mute you. I have no patience for that and honestly, most people don’t mind (I know I would rather get muted than being singled out and asked to mute myself!).

    6. Asenath*

      I don’t think that’s possible with the systems I’ve used – Zoom and one or two others. Things have improved somewhat, but early on the following happened:

      Session Leader (several times): Please mute your microphones.
      Someone else (in chat): I can’t hear a thing; does someone have their microphone unmuted?
      (And we all knew exactly who it was because even though we can’t mute them, we can see if everyone is muted or not.)
      Session Leader makes another plea.
      Finally, someone in the class unmutes to say “Mike, please mute your mic. It’s causing interference.” That would work for a while, but he did tend to forget.
      I can only assume Session Leader was very concerned about appearing to forcibly shut down debate.

    7. Annimal*

      You are making a massive contribution to collective wellbeing with this mission!! Thank you!!

    8. Mimmy*

      Oh man I could totally use you during our staff meetings!! I’m not sure if anyone can unmute others on Zoom calls, but if we could, I would absolutely be a Muting Bandit!

  9. generic_username*

    Oh God, I once entered a meeting a little early and there were a few people already in the meeting just hanging out/catching up. My sister called me on the phone and since I had about 5 minutes til the meeting start I figured I’d see what she wanted and let her know I could call her back later. So I answer the call and press the mute button for my sound on my laptop (to silence everyone else). I didn’t realize that when I entered the call I hadn’t muted my microphone, so everyone had to listen to me talk to my sister. Thankfully I didn’t say anything bad (just something along the lines of “what’s up?” “oh, can I call you back later? I have a meeting soon.” “yeah I have like 5 minutes so be quick” etc) and it was a fairly casual meeting anyway, but my chatter kept cutting into their conversations. As someone who would normally never answer the phone in a group without leaving the room so they didn’t have to listen to my one-sided conversation, I felt so rude….

    1. Baby Yoda*

      My laptop now needs a new sound driver thingie every year or so, which I first learned in spring of 2020. I thought all sound was lost at our team meeting, but in reality they could hear me and my husband just fine. Thankfully we didn’t say anything really bad while trying to figure out what was wrong.

    2. ghostlight*

      Similar story, back at the start of COVID when all of us were working from home, we had a daily check in (yes a DAILY, hour-long check in EVERY DAY, it drove us nuts). I popped into the Teams call a little early and was scrolling through TikTok on my phone, listening to people chat and make small talk. I had my camera off, and assumed I was also muted, until a coworker, very gently, inquired, “Hey [Ghostlight] are you on TikTok?” and I realized I had been unmuted the whole time, scrolling away unbothered. Luckily, it was before our meeting started and we all had a good laugh, but I was mortified!

      1. generic_username*

        Haha, I found my notes from March 2020 and we also had daily team meetings that were absurdly long at the beginning. Like, one day, I literally only had two hours to actually do my job during my work hours because we had so many meetings (where we wasted time talking about how to be productive in a virtual environment and how to maintain work/life balance, funnily enough). That lasted for a month… My grandboss was literally assigning us tasks like “go outside for a walk” and “do this online yoga class” and we had to post photos we took on our walk and post about how the yoga class made us feel… then we spent our evenings trying to do work. So glad that eventually ended

    3. My dear Wormwood*

      I popped into a Teams meeting a little early and though I was having a stroke. Turns out the two Irishwomen were just having a chat in Gaeilge.

  10. Nope nope nope*

    My significant other and I both work in the same home office. She has a ton of meetings on zoom and I almost never do so it works out.

    Her company’s vp was hosting an internal virtual pub quiz to celebrate employee appreciation day. She was juggling working and paying attention to the quiz at the same time then looked right at me and complained about the quiz questions, calling it a “stupid ****ing quiz”. She wasn’t muted and the VP plus half the company heard her complaining.

    At least the vp was a good sport about it. They didn’t seem to mind since it was an internal meeting.

  11. EPLawyer*

    Minor thing but just happened — like literally in the last half hour.

    Court is still doing scheduling conferences via Zoom (this is the good part). Client gets on. We are trying to tell her to unmute herself. I am telling her, look in the lower left hand corner of your screen, click on the microphone so there is no line through it. She gets up AND WALKS AWAY. Finally comes back. So the court calls her, figuring they will have her on screen, but voice through the phone. The Magistrate SAID she was doing this. Client WALKS AWAY to take the call. Magistrate again explains what she is doing. Client leans into the computer from the side and TURNS off her monitor. WHILE NOT SITTING DOWN. We just gave up and had her audio only. It was only scheduling, you say yes or no if a date works for you. It’s not like a hearing where credibility is at issue.
    But UGGHH. All the client had to do was SIT still and follow directions.

    1. blackcat lady*

      It may not bode well for the actual court proceeding if your client is that bad at listening to directions.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Well if it is in person I can physically grab her and sit her ass down. I’ve done it before with clients.

        The next hearing is via zoom and I am just going to have to have her present in the conference room.

    2. Dave*

      Adoptions over zoom have a certain greatness so the family can all gather across the country. The family members (3-5 in a ages) in questions all showed off their fancy clothes and danced in between questions.

      1. SweetFancyPancakes*

        Aww! We got to do that with my (now 4-year old) nephew several months ago. It was really great, especially because family from several states away- including me and my dad- got to participate.

    3. Another JD*

      We had a morning Zoom where the Judge asked a defendant to stop drinking alcohol on the porch during the hearing. She refused.

    4. VI Guy*

      Speaking of courts… I think that years from now on my deathbead, if someone wants to make me happy they would only have to play that “I am not a cat” video! I watched it again just now and was laughing so hard!

    5. raincoaster*

      I sometimes cover court cases and the sheer inability to handle the most basic functions still shocks me. Judges, you’re supposed to have this stuff down by now. Lawyers, you went to school and everything. You can handle this!

      Maybe somebody should be in charge of organizing it for everyone (including muting all the reporters). Is that a bailiff’s job in the 21st Century? A clerk’s?

  12. Chc34*

    When I was teaching English 101 over Zoom last year:
    Student: *logs in, talking to friend*: Ugh yeah I have English right now. The teacher is pretty chill but god this class sucks, it’s so boring.
    Me, politely: So-and-so, I believe you’ve forgotten to mute yourself
    Student: Oh shi-

    At least he was shit-talking the class itself and not me lol.

    1. WomEngineer*

      I was in a class where everyone was encouraged to have cameras on. Someone posts in the chat, “Nice background, Mark. So we all look at Mark’s screen, and he’s there in front of a virtual background video of himself. I’m guessing it was for another class.

      1. Hills to Die On*

        Haha I have a coworker who does that. Except we all moved desks in a reorg so I knew that was not actually his desk anymore. Waited a month or so and then jokingly busted him in front of our small and close-knit team.

      2. knitcrazybooknut*

        I meet regularly with my direct reports, and we’re pretty relaxed about these meetings. One of them has two young sons who I have often entertained with funny toys. I once took a screenshot of her and her sons and made it my background. Their faces were hilarious!

      3. OtterB*

        Work, not school, but early in the pandemic we decided we liked the look of one coworker’s home office, so she stepped out of frame and someone snapped a screenshot and sent it around. For some time we all attended staff meetings with Jane’s office as our background.

        1. My dear Wormwood*

          I once attended a zoom meeting in a herd of cows, from a photo I had taken when the car was surrounded by them.

    2. the cat's ass*

      One of my daughter’s fave teachers asked everyone to hold up their pets during Zoom class! Imagine the screen in those little Brady Bunch-like cubes with 14 solemn 9th graders, 8 cats, 5 dogs and an iguana. I strolled by right at the perfect moment.

      1. Esmeralda*

        My cats are regular visitors to my zooms when I’m WFH. 2020/2021 school year, the kids were home too. They were so happy to see my cats! And I had them show me their pets too. Kids who didn’t have a showable pet put their siblings, parents, or grandmas on camera. One of the few nice things about that year…

  13. Dinwar*

    My only good one was when I was traveling for work. I got to the hotel and took a shower, figuring that 7 pm was late enough no one would bother me. As soon as I got out I got a phone call: “I need you to jump on Teams. We’ve got a group together and need to discuss [major issue on the jobsite].”

    “Can you give me five minutes? I just got out of the shower and am only wearing a towel.”

    “Screw it, we won’t use cameras anyway. Jump on!”

    To be fair, the issue warranted a “drop everything” type call. It’s just a very weird feeling to me to be on a call like that.

    1. Siege*

      Okay, this is actually good. I was asked, at 7:45 AM one fine day, to jump on a call with NANCY PELOSI, at 8 AM. My boss was going to attend the meeting but double-booked herself, so deputized me to cover that one because it was informational for my org and the other one was participatory. The meeting I went to was a whole thing with the Poor People’s Campaign and some other orgs pre-election, and Pelosi really was on at the end. What no one knows is that because my start time has crept later and later and is currently hovering at 9:30, at 7:45 I hadn’t even showered yet. I had to choose between getting all the way dressed with wet hair (which would be extremely obvious because my hair is short so when wet it’s spikes everywhere) or being partially naked with dry hair. I picked dry hair and impeccable presentation from the waist up, and joined the call precisely on time, on video.

      1. mreasy*

        I can’t stop laughing about the idea of Donald Ducking it on a conference w the Speaker.

      2. Queen of the Introverts*

        I have weekly M-W-F 9am stand-up meetings, and I made no secret that the reason my camera was always off most of the time was because I was still in bed, joining in audio-only on my phone. Now we’re back in the office and it’s been…rough.

      3. SBC*

        Ahh this is giving me flashbacks to my college days as a young reporter at the student paper (pre-Zoom obviously). I’d been trying for days to get a hold of a U.S. Senator who had secured funding for a huge new building for our university. It had been such a huge ordeal to just get one little quote and I was on deadline. I hopped out of the shower in my dorm room, and the phone immediately started ringing. It was of course his office and he was finally available to chat if I was. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance for this stupid interview so I said of course I was free and that is how I ended up on the phone with the senior Senator from Alabama while butt naked.

      4. raincoaster*

        I joined a seminar on Zoom with a very senior party leader. I’d literally just finished a workout and was wearing a sports bra and leggings, both very sweaty. I sign in and IMMEDIATELY she calls me out and says we’re “SHARING on video” so I needed to turn my camera on. Thank god I keep a throw on my sofa, so I wrapped it like a cowl sweater and made it through. Spent most of the time in the breakout groups complaining with the other attendees about having to be on camera with no warning. Why do people think this leads to bonding? We only bonded over how awful it was.

        1. raincoaster*

          Oh, and there were like 60 people in the meeting. No idea why they needed to see my face. It was like those pixel art pieces where every image is too small to be meaningful.

    2. squirreltooth*

      I believe in my heart of hearts that if I attempted a partially clothed work call, some glitch would lead to me flashing everyone. Could never do it!

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’ve definitely taken several meetings while in a towel so I totally get the weirdness. I have a manual cover for my camera but I still check and recheck that my video is off and the cover is still closed, just in case!

      1. Anonym*

        I enjoy it on the odd occasion it happens! It feels sort of defiant to be doing something that has no actual negative effect but you know some people would frown about. Not for anything where video is a possibility, though! Too risky.

      2. Elenna*

        I did a phone *interview* once where I was in bed, having just woken up, probably butt-naked because that’s how I usually sleep.
        (I didn’t get the job. I don’t think my state of dress had anything to do with it, though.)

      3. Fae Kamen*

        Really? To me it’s like the peak of luxury. Lying on the bed in a towel, talking lazily on the phone and idly examining my nails. Nothing better to do and not a care in the world.

    4. The Real Persephone Mongoose*

      Long long before COVID, we had a major system issue happen early in the morning. We started a bridge call to deal with it. Because I got woke up, I joined in my bathrobe. The call lasted 18 hours. I spent several hours sitting on my floor in my bathrobe, took a 10 minute break to shower quickly, then spent 5 hours sitting in a towel with my hair wet before I could take another break to get dressed. It was a long day. Fortunately, my company didn’t have (and still doesn’t despite COVID) have a culture of using cameras during calls so I didn’t have to worry about ‘sharing’ too much with my team.

      1. Dinwar*

        My company doesn’t generally have us on video either, which is why I was willing to jump on the call immediately rather than finding cloths. I’ve always believed that there’s far better use for screen real estate than my face–maps, diagrams, reports, or worst case the meeting minutes.

    5. Mr. Shark*

      I always think it’s strange to be on a business call with less than normal clothes on, and it would be even more weird if any of the people on the other end knew that I was in only a towel.

  14. Fern*

    I work in student services for a college as a business analyst. I was at the time juggling my full time job and my then three-year-old son. I was hiding in a room on a zoom meeting with the chair of an academic department on a data request he had and my son found me and pushed the door open and yelled “Are you talking about monster trucks in here? Because if you are not talking about monster trucks, then this call is BOOOOOORING” and then walked out. The chair started laughing hysterically and said that he was also hiding from his seven-year-old son, who would also find this conversation boring.

    1. londonedit*

      When my nephew’s nursery was closed during 2020 (he was two at the time) my sister and brother-in-law took turns with the toddler wrangling, but there were definitely a few occasions where he’d somehow manage to make a run for it upstairs, where he’d find my sister and yell ‘WHAT YOU DOOOOOOING, MUMMY? STOP WORKING! I WANT TO PLAY CARS!!’ just as she was on a video call. Luckily her colleagues found it pretty cute and he never managed to interrupt anything really important!

  15. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Forgot that actually yes, I have done one myself. I’ve got a nervous habit of chewing the inside of my mouth – to quite severe levels. In the office I know not to do it but in the early days of all this I kinda went into home mode and started gnawing away.

    Took my staff saying ‘err, boss,we can see AND hear you doing that’ for me to stop. Was very embarrassed.

  16. Liv*

    I work from home 4 days a week. My husband is the primary caregiver for our toddler. About 2 weeks after I started a new job at the end of last year, he went out to get his Covid booster jab. We had timed it so that our daughter would be napping while he was out, so I could carry on working.

    Obviously, my daughter decided that day that naps were for losers. Which led to me, 2 weeks into a new job, on a call with senior management presenting back some work I’d done, where all you could hear in the background was my daughter trying to get my attention by shouting ‘HELLO HELLO HIYA’ and giggling to try and make me laugh.

    Luckily, they were all incredibly understanding!

  17. Kramerica Industries*

    It was one of those corporate town hall things and one of the speakers had just finished giving a very cohesive and articulate presentation. Immediately after she said “back to you, host!”, she immediately whipped off the blazer she was wearing over her t-shirt and let out a big “UGH MY GODDDDD, BLECHHH”. The host kindly reminded her that her video and sound were still on.

    It’s fairly mellow, but that raw “I hate presentations” attitude was amazing.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I can see myself doing this, not because I hate presentations but because I hate blazers.

    2. Siege*

      I end almost all calls with some form of “gnargh”. Oddly, I don’t hate the phone! What I hate is being Chipper, Professional, and Helpful, because that is not my personality. I’m just waiting to get caught, so your story is giving me nightmares.

      1. PeanutButter*

        After I’ve left a zoom/teams meeting I always hear Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality in my head “Excuse me, I have to go unscrew my smile!”

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I almost always end my long video calls by leaning back in my chair, looking up, and saying some version of “oh MY god” while sighing so I totally get where she’s coming from! I am very diligent in hanging up and covering my camera before doing it, but I still get nervous that the audio somehow hangs on for a few seconds after I leave the call. The meeting could have gone amazing, but I still find them draining, so it’s just my way of decompressing – but I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to witness it!

      1. Elenna*

        Most of my meeting (especially the rare video ones) end with me walking swiftly away from the computer so I can pace a bit and relax from the feeling of having to Be Social. So far I’ve always successfully disconnected from the meeting before doing this, though.

    4. MsM*

      I misread that as an enormous belch, which…honestly, I’d have been relieved to be able to let that out, too.

    5. Extensia*

      Oh, this one I really feel. I do a lot of 1-1 or small group trainings on Zoom and I both enjoy doing it and am utterly drained by the time one is over. Being on camera, having to stay visibly “on” and interact for a solid hour while trying to be engaging and friendly and also conveying a large amount of information. Once my camera is off, I feel like collapsing in a heap.

  18. Hills to Die On*

    The CIO had just finished dropping hammer on some urgent items that had gone unattended and a moment later, Fergus let out a long, loud, mouth-smacking yawn. Like an audible 3-second yawn on a call with 100 people.
    Every one laughs and makes joke about how we must be boring Fergus.
    CIO quips, ‘I personally thought it was kind of an exciting meeting.” It was cute and well-timed and broke the ice really well. Our CIO is so nice and awesome.

    I managed to yell ‘Guys! I am on a work call! Knock it off!!” at my fighting children. No, I was not on mute and interrupted my manager mid-sentence with that little shrieking gem.

    1. 3DogNight*

      My go to phrase for my dogs when they’re misbehaving is “Go to bed” and the tone of voice tells them if I want them to go in the room and lay down, lay down where they are or just knock it off. They decided to start a play fight UNDER MY CHAIR! while on a rather important project call with a large team, and my customer. In my deepest, loudest, most serious voice I yelled GO TO BED! My AE said “I guess you mean it, and right now!” I nearly died, I thought I was on mute. We all had a good relationship, everyone took it well, but they did tell me that they had flashbacks to their childhood!

  19. Super Duper Anon*

    This one doesn’t have a video component because it was well before the pandemic, but my favorite conference call mistake was a few jobs ago. We had gathered in a meeting room and the project manager dialed what he thought was the usual 1-800 number for the conference line. Except he dialed a 1-900 number instead. Now he was a great guy, but a little scatterbrained at times, plus he was setting up for the meeting so wasn’t paying close attention. The rest of the meeting members were chatting with each other (including me) so we were also not paying attention. Very slowly we clued in as we heard NSFW things coming out of the conference phone. However the PM still hadn’t caught on. Someone finally went, “uh, Fergus?” and he suddenly clued in, hung up the phone and redialed the correct number.

    1. Bagpuss*

      This reminds me of one I had years ago.
      I was in court, together with my opposite number (no clients) and the judge.
      We were trying to schedule the next hearing so were waiting for the court office to call back with available dates, so when the phone rang, the judge answered it and put it on speaker (as we would need to check our availability for any dates).
      It wasn’t the court office. It was a *very* persistent salesman.
      He starts by asking if the person he was speaking to was the homeowner.
      The Judge said no, he hadn’t called a home, he’d called a court, and was speaking to one of the Judges
      The salesman asked whether he owned the building.
      The Judge explained that no, it was a court , so owned by Crown, via the court service.
      The salesman asked who was in charge of that.
      The Judge told him it was the Lord Chancellor.
      The salesman asked whether *he* was available, and could he speak to him.
      The Judge explained tht no, the Lord Chancellor doesn’t normally spend a lot of time in regional court rooms, and was usually to be found in the House of Lords .

      All done with the Judge keeping a totally straight face and and remarkably level and polite tone.
      I don’t think we ever did find out exactly what he was trying to sell – I think it was either carpets or double glazing .
      (That Judge was was one of my favourite Judges – he’s now retired but was always very good at his job, and very patient with lay people who were scared or upset by the proceedings, and with junior / inexperienced lawyers as they found their feet. Although he was much less tolerant of lawyers who were sloppy or hadn’t prepared properly)

      1. BorisTheGrump*

        This is the best thing I have ever heard omg.

        And inquiring American attorneys need to know… was the judge wearing one of those wigs?! Please, please, please say yes

        1. Bagpuss*

          Sorry to disappoint you, but no. I work in Family law, so hearings are’in chambers’ which means no gowns or wigs for anyone!

    2. Trillian*

      I have now completely lost it, the way I used to lose it with each new Terry Pratchett.

      If my neighbours call in the Men with White Coats and Dart Guns, it is all your collective fault.

      1. La Triviata*

        Remember the poor lawyer who was on a Zoom call court hearing and he was stuck with the cat filter? could NOT get the filter off and the judge found it impossible to take him seriously when his video showed a fluffy white kitten? (they postponed the hearing)

        Soon after, a law school class took that as inspiration and, on a Zoom class, they were ALL fluffy white kittens.

    3. Sarah Wolfe*

      I had a job where we had an 888 number but the 800 version was a sex line. People embarrassedly (kindly!) told us all the time they’d accidentally dialed the 800 one but corporate didn’t care enough to change it.

    4. CostAlltheThings*

      At a previous job, our 1-800# was actually like 877-123-4567 but still toll-free. However, if you dialed 800-123-4567, you got a NSFW type line. I got to take the escalated calls from customer service when little old ladies finally dialed the right number and were outraged that we’d advertise the number for the NSFW line

  20. Anonly*

    On the all-company Town Hall, as the owner/CEO was about to speak, the attendees heard a “come listen to this idiot” from a fairly senior manager who’d clearly forgotten to hit the mute button.

    By the end of the week we’d all received a very apologetic email from him claiming (very unconvincingly!) that he’d been talking about a situation happening outside his lounge room window, and by a few months later he had departed “to explore other exciting opportunities”.

  21. La Triviata*

    I think people have gotten pretty chill about having kids, pets, etc., in the Zoom (or whatever ) call. In one meeting of Scottish MPs, one had his cat – Rocco – sort of wave his tail in front of the camera. An Irish politician, being interviewed on camera, had his dog nosing at his hand for pets. Kind of cute and harmless.

    Jeffrey Toobin … it would have to be an extreme situation to go beyond HIS Zoom.

    1. Loubelou*

      By Irish politician, I assume you mean the President? Yes, our president is that awesome. He would have done the same pre-pandemic as well.

  22. CreepyPaper*

    Rambo, my dumb as a stump German Shepherd, likes the little moving heads on my laptop screen and will try and lick them.

    He gets shut out of the room when I have a meeting now but when we didn’t have a door on this room (a very boring story about how supply chain issues delayed us finishing renovating this place) I was regularly interrupted by him leaping on my lap to lick the screen.

    Why couldn’t he just bark at them like his brother does? Sigh. Dogs.

    1. Dinwar*

      I love how dopey Shepherds can be. :D I’ve met a lot of folks who see them and are terrified, thinking they’re ferocious. Everyone I’ve met who has a GSD, Belgian Shepherd, Ausey, etc. has the attitude “Yeah, he’s just a big doof.”

      1. The Rafters*

        I’ve discovered that it’s deliberate stupidity. They know full well what they are doing and simply choose to act dumb for laughs.

      2. Selina Luna*

        I have a Great Pyrenees, who is also a giant doof. He never interrupted a work call, but he interrupted several family calls.

        1. BritSouthAfricanAmericanHybrid*

          We own two GPs and as soon as they hear my Teams meeting start, they saunter into my office. Jack will pyr paw, and if I don’t respond, he will turn to the female GP with a ‘wanna play’ stance and suddenly I have two giants trying to duke it out! Without fail. I have closed the baby gate and they just barrel through it. Now I will take them outside, close my doors and ignore the loud sighs and snuffles.

      3. EmmaPoet*

        We’ve had some ferocious Groenendaels and an Aussie, but the Mals I know were all lambs. And every GSD I’ve ever met was a sweet cuddly wuss of a dog.

      4. SixTigers*

        I’ve never met a Rottweiler who wasn’t an oversized goofball. Sure, I guess they look all ferocious and whatnot, but the ones I’ve met were all “will wag for pets.” And lick. And roll around on floor. And nose-poke. And try to climb into laps.

        Such sweeties! Obnoxious sometimes, sure, but absolute sweethearts!

    2. DarthVelma*

      My cat doesn’t care so much about the “little moving heads”. But on the rare occasions that I use my speakers instead of headphones, she gets very excited about the disembodied voices.

      She even has favorites – there are a couple of my co-workers, that if she hears their voices, she’ll try to rub up against the speakers.

      1. Omskivar*

        My cat has always demanded attention when I’m on the phone. If I’m talking, then it must be Norman time! This has extended itself into Zooms. I’ve had both phone and Zoom interviews interrupted by insistent meowing and headbutts multiple times.

        1. Dinwar*

          My one dog does that. 110 lb Malamute, mostly muscle since he spends all day wrestling with our (80 lb) puppy. When he head-buts your hand insisting on being petted, it’s hard to ignore! Even worse is thunderstorms. He’s terrified of them, and wants to curl up under my desk so I can protect him from the big scary things. I’ve had to sit cross-legged on my chair because there was no room for my legs under the desk!

        2. JustaTech*

          When I was WFH my cat did this as well. I’m just sitting and typing or reading? She couldn’t care less. The moment I pull out my phone or put on my headphones? She *must* be in my lap or shouting at me.

          I was in a very small zoom call (4 people total) when one person made some comment about being afraid of cats. At which point each of the rest of us had our cats walk into the room and demand attention.

  23. Oh the mic issues*

    I had an issue where everyone could hear me on a zoom meeting except one person. I tried plugging in headphones with a microphone, changing my mic settings but still he said he couldn’t hear my voice at all. So throughout the entire meeting, I would have to wait for him to finish speaking in order for me to speak and someone else would have to tell this person what I said. My boss assured me after the call that it was definitely the other person’s issue. The issue never came up again when we were on calls together later on.

  24. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    I live in SE Wisconsin and we have a terrible Box Elder insect problem, especially this time of year when it starts to warm up a bit. I was on camera for a client-facing Zoom call just last week, when a huge one fell from the ceiling and landed directly on my keyboard.

    I tend to startle pretty easily, so the result was that I screamed and jumped about a foot out of my chair. Everyone was very understanding once I explained myself, but I was mortified and am still cringing as I type this.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      OH MY GOSH I am also in Wisconsin and I can imagine this far more clearly than I wish I could…

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Texas and we have these ungodly flying roaches.

      I don’t care how brave anyone is, we all scream like toddlers when one of those b*stards invades our space.

      1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

        As a fellow Texan I can attest to this! Once one flew right towards my roommate and me, so we jumped on my bed, hugged each other and screamed!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I once had one fly down the stairs and hit me smack in the forehead. I screamed like I’d stepped on a knife.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        OMG they are the worst. They also don’t die easily, I call them the Rasputin bugs.
        My cats have only very mild interest in them.

      3. Just delurking to say...*

        As a Queenslander, this is going to have me looking over my shoulder all weekend – we have ungodly flying roaches here too.

      4. SixTigers*

        I would not only shriek like a train whistle, I would turn inside out if one landed on me. I HATE roaches, and the only thing worse than a roach is one that’s flying at me — or LANDING on me. Gaaaahhhhh!!!

    3. Leilah*

      I did something similar once, but I screamed an expletive – and it was because apparently without warning me mother had come to my house, let herself in, and came and knocked on my office door. I was so scared and surprised by the knock (I thought I was home alone!) that I yelped an expletive very loudly. Luckily it was an informal meeting. Still feels very strange as a mid-30s professional explaining that your mom jump-scared you in your own home.

    4. workerbee*

      Before I stopped using the camera, I was on a senior staff zoom meeting from my home office. A mouse ran perilously close to my foot. I went about 3 feet in the air, and landed kneeling on my chair.

      Started going back into the office after that! :-D

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I have a legitimate phobia of small rodents, complete with panic attacks. If that happened to me I would be on the floor curled up in a ball for hours *shudder*

    5. That One Person*

      I can super relate. It luckily wasn’t a work call, just a discord one with friends while we played a game. During the summer the cicadas can get ridiculous sometimes and I don’t know how/when, but I guess one got inside the house because at one point I happen to look down at myself and notice one just hanging out on my shirt. Immediate screech, tossing of my headset, probably audible cursing still getting to the mic as I’d leaped from my chair, swatted it off my shirt, and then got a dish and plate or something to get it back outside. Then I had to explain it so I could replace any alarm with laughs.

  25. KoiFeeder*

    I have, twice now, had to take “this meeting could’ve been an email” zoom calls while undergoing serious gastrointestinal symptoms.

    And once I had to zoom, with my camera on, with a broken and profusely bleeding nose.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Wait, what? Don’t leave us hanging on that “had to zoom with a broken nose” comment.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        It’s not very exciting. I tripped down the stairs and caught myself with my face. And then had class.

        1. Super Duper Anon*

          Oh no! I had the same thing happen when I was in university. I lived nearby and was going home for lunch before my next set of classes. I tripped over the curb and my backpack was heavy enough to swing me forward faster than my reaction time could handle and I caught myself with my face. I stumbled home and cleaned up the best I could before going back to class but I looked like such a mess. Luckily for me I didn’t break my nose by my head was bleeding and I had big scrapes all over my face.

    2. Siege*

      Yeeeeeep. I muted everything I could find and then double checked it all and muted it again.

  26. many bells down*

    During a breakout room portion of a public event, one elderly attendee just up and took her computer to the bathroom. With her camera and mic still on.

  27. ScruffyInternHerder*

    Early on, I realized I *wasn’t* on mute when one of my darling children decided to make cookies from scratch. A stand mixer apparently can be mistaken for an out of balance washing machine. Queue up dumb comments about “who the h3ll is doing laundry?” and me facepalming and explaining that my small humans were baking and hitting mute while my boss cracked up.

    Now I’m the one who hears someone chewing, and go hunting….

  28. HannahS*

    Early in the pandemic, I logged in to an all-day meeting with the other new resident doctors–about 40 colleagues whom I’d never met, plus administrators and program directors. I was luxuriating in a rare day of working from home, so I logged in, made sure my video was off, and then announced to my husband, “Yeah, I’m having a no-pants day.” Didn’t mute myself. Whoops!

    (For the record, I was wearing leggings, but still.)

  29. kiri*

    I took a leadership/supervision class that met on Zoom for seven weeks, for three hours at a time, at the end of a work day. Almost all the class participants worked in person – and about half were in healthcare – so all of us were usually totally fried by the time the class started. Not a great setup for online learning.

    To make matters worse, the (very knowledgeable) instructor was really not tech savvy, so we spent a lot of time waiting for her to create breakout rooms, share her screen, etc. Once we spent THIRTEEN MINUTES (I timed it) waiting around for her to figure out how to share a document with us. She also had to be asked to not click her pen directly into her computer’s speakers.

    As the class went on, you could see more people checking out. Several participants took to pouring themselves Scandal-sized glasses of wine for the class. One participant (J) was very obviously setting up her laptop and then playing a video game on her TV – which we knew because she was not great about muting herself. During the last class, during a discussion, we heard unmuted J detailing to her daughter all the ways that the class was a waste of time. MORTIFYING.

  30. Leilah*

    I thought I was on mute and my dog started doing something obnoxious for the 4th time that morning. Exasperated, I said in a VERY loud, VERY firm tone, “You need to STOP. NOW.” — reader, I was not actually on mute. The person presenting in the meeting stopped speaking and (luckily) immediately cracked a joke at me in response. I apologized profusely and explained the dog situation! Luckily it’s a very informal daily check-in with a handful of people and wasn’t something more formal!

    Just last week in a pretty large meeting for one of our DEI groups, someone was not on mute and proceeded to tell someone in the room with them, “Oh, no, I’m not busy. I’m supposed to be paying attention to this meeting but I’m not. I had use the bathroom earlier –” and that’s when someone found the mute button. Oops!

    1. Shaken*

      I live in California and many of my colleagues are elsewhere. Last year during a meeting with East Coast people, we had a small earthquake so people saw me have a sudden reaction to that. They did not ask what happened.

      One thing I wish happened on Zoom: I was sitting on an exercise ball and it popped. If only I had been on Zoom for others to see me suddenly disappear and splat on the floor.

  31. The Catcher in the Rye*

    When I was working from home, I was in an academic advising appointment with a student and their cat fell on them from a shelf above. In a different Zoom appointment, a student’s video background was just the Pornhub logo and she fumbled awkwardly for way too long trying to change it but I just ignored the situation.

    1. Same Catcher, Different Rye*

      Oh, and there was the time when I was teaching a college class over Zoom and the fire alarm went off in the residence hall building several students were inside of at the time. They proceeded to unmute to prove to me what was going on and the resulting cacophony was more than enough to get me to pause class.

      Also, autocaptions. For some reason, Zoom always transcribed the name of one of my students (Hadley) as “ugly”. I never drew attention to it, but that was uncomfortable. One time, I was lecturing and I’m not sure what I actually said, but I certainly didn’t say “bloodshed” which the captions implied that I did.

      1. Resident Catholicville, USA*

        On one of my former employer’s culture videos, the Youtube auto CC’s claimed that our company was working with the local mafia- it was the local sheriff’s department that they were having a fundraiser for. Ooops.

        1. Morgan Hazelwood*

          OMG. The CC for the presentation of “The Disastrous Reign of Kpengla of Danxome”, at war with the Oyo Empire was SO LOST.

    2. many bells down*

      It has become popular among some older members of my church to set their own photo as a virtual background. Hilarious and disconcerting when their head pops out of their own chest!

      1. BubbleTea*

        I was in a Zoom call with a hobby group and one of our members was missing, so I made a photo of her my background. Which she found very baffling when someone shared a “group photo” screenshot!

    3. JelloStapler*

      One of my colleagues had their student hold the entire appt in his bed with no shirt on.

  32. OrigCassandra*

    I feel distressingly ordinary. Worst thing that’s happened to me is forgetting to put my webcam back in its place atop my laptop monitor, such that other meeting attendees had a lovely view of my office ceiling light fixture.

    Well, that and one of my cats being (reasonably, as I live alone) convinced that any speaking aloud I do is to him, and feeling that he needs to answer at top volume. My colleagues are used to it by now; fortunately, he gets bored and wanders away after ten minutes or so.

    1. Tabasco Fiasco*

      Man, me too. My workplace adapted really well. The only weird things that have happened were a few kitten attacks and a very senior person in a Very Serious Conversation very obviously doing something in the background unrelated to the meeting without turning her camera off. I am not being intentionally vague… nobody actually knew what she was doing, but it seemed complex and sufficiently distracting that it didn’t appear to be a fidget (for example, my coworker knits in Zoom because keeping her hands busy helps her pay attention).

      Off-topic, but the Zoom/Teams/Hangouts things that have CONTINUED to linger:

      “Can everyone hear me?” when someone unmutes and begins to speak.
      “Can everyone see my screen?” when someone shares screen. It’s almost as if they’re forms of greeting instead of earnest inquiries.

      1. Austistic and Anxion: The Biography*

        I wish it were a mere greeting… I have to use a series of nesting virtual machines for certain parts of my job -one for the company I work for, one for the govt agency we contract with, and adding the massive CPU-eater that is Teams on an already occasionally shaky connection is less than ideal. I’m honestly shocked we’re ever able to even share screens without the servers exploding!

      2. Omskivar*

        I am just superstitious enough to be convinced that the one time someone doesn’t say these phrases is the one time that no, no one can hear them/see their screen.

      3. plums*

        The “can everyone hear me/see my screen” lingers for me because Teams is notorious for not allowing either, and sometimes both. It’s not uncommon for a larger group to have half who can see the shared item, and half who can’t. I’ve had one instance where I could use my camera, or share my screen – but not both.

        It’s a guessing game at this point what will or will not work for us on Teams any given day. Keeps it interesting, I suppose!

    2. Elenna*

      Same, my workplace was very good with it (probably because we had the capability to work from home even before the pandemic). A couple coworkers have crackly microphones and aren’t always good at muting, that’s pretty much it.

  33. PFJaded*

    This isn’t technically a mishap because the person did these things on purpose, but my internship supervisor had TERRIBLE Zoom etiquette. They insisted on leaving their camera on during our all staff meeting. Normally, this would be fine, but they were being driven around to run errands, so we watched them getting in and out of the car, and at one point getting into a (very angry looking) argument with whoever was driving them. It was so uncomfortable! They also insisted everyone had to be unmuted to “lower the barrier to contributing to conversations.” This, combined with their tendency to verbally nod along to whatever was being said meant they were constantly cutting off whoever was actually speaking with their mhmm’s and yes’s. I tried to point out Zoom only lets one voice through at a time so they were actually cutting off the people they were trying to support, and they said “I actually haven’t had that experience.”

    1. Siege*

      I get really irritated with the people who walk around with their cameras on. Like, do they not get seasick when other people do that?

      Also, I like to assume they meant they hadn’t had the experience of giving anyone support because they aren’t doing that here either.

      1. Kel’s Bells*

        I had a call once, where none of us needed to be on video, but once one person turned it on, we all did. The first person was on his phone and then started pacing around his house in random circles, only stopping when his camera was facing a moving ceiling fan. I got so nauseous I couldn’t concentrate at all, but felt bad about obviously looking away from my screen. No clue what happened in that meeting.

    2. Fae Kamen*

      I do think the mute button can be a barrier to participation, but I don’t think it outweighs the reasons the mute button is needed.

  34. Sal*

    Early pandemic: I forgot to mute during our unit meeting and so the whole team heard me holler at my then 2 yo: “[Name,] it is NOT NICE to chase people and LICK THEM!” Of course, I had no idea I was unmuted until I finally caught my snap to the conspicuous silence that followed.

    The reason I remember it, though, is that my dad went on hospice a couple days later and when I told him about this, that was the last time I made him laugh.

      1. Sal*

        Thank you! Kind of a downer but it really made it stick in my memory more than most zoom fails :)

    1. Sal*

      The wildest thing I’ve seen though was in Zoom court: an attorney attempted to appear while she was actually driving, then pulled into a gas station parking lot when the judge asked her to not drive and appear on a case, then got into it with the gas station attendants/employees when they came to the car to give her a hard time about parking there without getting gas, to the point where she was using language that the judge felt the need to clarify to the stenographer: “I am going to assume Ms. So-and-so is not referring to me with that.” He let it go on for quite some time before finally telling her to go get somewhere where she could zoom without having to clarify for the record whether she was calling him or someone else an asshole, and that he would re-call the case.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Over a decade and a half ago, my mom had to stop a business call and yell “Koi, stop shooting your brother.” in the most exhausted tone of voice. These things happen.

  35. Burnt Eggs*

    Just a few weeks ago. Ivy, a new member to the team, but not the org; so she knows how the tech works. My Director was explaining how we track and document sales leads, info, and outcomes in the software. While on camera in a recorded meeting, Ivy stood and shouted to someone in another cube “Bob, you should be on this call! You won’t believe what these fools are doing! They put all these notes in [software name] instead of just emailing any updates to themselves. Don’t they know how to email?
    Side chats were blowing up, Director paused and said ‘where is Bob? Could someone invite him quick?” When he got on, he said “Bob, real quick, could you explain the purpose for this notes section?” “Bob, would we ever reference this in the future?” Bob, why were you adamant not to store records in email?”
    Bob happily did so not knowing we all heard Ivy.
    Bob is Ivys boss and an admin for the software and trained the others on it.

    Ivy no longer allowed near our team, had all her emails since she joined our team cross referenced to our Dbase. And anyone who posts for Ivys former position has to prove they k ow and use the software correctly.

    1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      I’m confused – did Bob tell Ivy to record the notes in email, or was that something Ivy was just doing on her own? Did he not train her to store the notes in the software?

      1. Burnt Eggs*

        He trained her, documented her understanding, and no issues. At some point she just quit doing it and decided making notes in her email alone, which no one else could reference, was easier.

  36. Dust Bunny*

    I have cats.

    They’re both brown tabbies. One is dark brown tabby/tortoiseshell and pretty evenly colored all over except for her feet, where she’s mottled orange and black. The other one is a light gray/tan variant with a golden-brown underside and black paws (basically the skin on all her extremities is very dark). Light Tabby’s elaborate coloring means that when you view her from, uh, behind, she’s tan/gray on the outside but her nether regions are highlighted in bright fawn and her Extra Personal Bits are black. Basically the cat equivalent of a mandrill butt. (Dark Tabby is discreetly solid-colored.)

    I was in the middle of one of the very few Zoom calls that was required of us when we were WFH for most of 2020 when Light Tabby hops merrily into my lap and flashes her colorful posterior at the camera.

    Mercifully, it was only my department and not the whole office, and I scooped her out of the way quickly, but my immediate coworkers definitely got an eyeful.

    1. Shira Von Doom*

      HAH! my brown tabby girl cat has coloring like that too!

      very dark on top, dark brown with black stripes down her sides, and cream and spotty belly. the top of her tail is very dark, and the underside (and her rear) is pale cream, like a white tail deer…and then a Black Spot over her personal area, LOL

  37. irene adler*

    I attended a nationwide on-line training session hosted by a professional organization.
    Just before people were returning from the breakout rooms, someone decided to make a pit stop.

    Only, mike on. For the entire bathroom visit.

    You could hear everyone’s verbal reaction to this. It didn’t seem to phase the “pee-er” one bit. Heard him zip up, flush, and then the sounds of a door opening.

    (No video; that had been kept off for all attendees. )

    Once back together, someone asked, “what the hell was that?” followed with a bunch of “what are you talking about?” or “Yeah, and he didn’t wash up either! ”

    I’m told that many complaints were made about this on the post-training survey.

    1. Workerbee*

      Were they just complaints that the organizers didn’t mute the bathroom visitor?
      Otherwise I wouldn’t be holding the trainers responsible for that dude. I’d put that on par with the Amazon reviews of “This book didn’t talk about aromatherapy. 1 star!!” on flower gardening books or something.

      1. irene adler*

        I gather that folks were just so taken aback that this happened (it was quite a long wizz). I gather that most complaints/comments were along the lines of “this was very shocking to hear” followed with “new rule! Facilitators need to mute everyone when breakout sessions end” or “issue reminders to mute when walking away from the computer”.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      Yikes. This is almost but not quite as bad as professional interpreters – in healthcare or in court settings – working remotely…from the bathroom. Video on (shoulders up), but very clearly sitting on the toilet.

  38. KateDee*

    I was in a meeting for a new product test launch. It was really just for us to just listen to our product team describe what they’d done and how it would impact our customers. My manager forgot to mute himself and when our (admittedly long-winded) product manager launched into his speech, he said “My GOD. Land the PLANE. I hate these people”. He then clearly zoned out, turned on music and started singing along. Four or so of us had to ping him before he realized, and abruptly disconnected. We never spoke of it again.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Lol! I could see myself doing something like that if I was tired and not thinking.

    2. Blisskrieg*

      This is my favorite so far. Hope it makes it to the list next week. The fact that it was never mentioned after the fact makes it that much better.

    3. Trillian*

      (Making a mental note to make sure mic is off the next time I mutter “Quick cackling and lay the egg …”)

      1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

        I have never heard the hen phrase before. Will keep it in mind for relevant occasions….

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Okay, the first part was funny, but the fact that he then started his own little karaoke party out of sheer boredom had me cackling way too loudly. I’m wheezing.

      1. Blisskrieg*

        ^yes, I don’t know why but the karaoke just made it great. Also the corporate jargon “land the plane.”

  39. JustKnope*

    My favorite was a departmental call (~100 people) where a woman unmuted herself just in time to shout, “Are you still serving breakfast burritos?!” I assume she was in a drive through line. I died laughing. The worst part is, I immediately muted her so we wouldn’t hear the rest of the exchange. She might never have known about her own gaffe if at the end of the call the COO hadn’t said “And we hope Jane got her burrito, har har!” She was confused and then mortified when someone explained.

    1. LC*

      This has been living in my head for the last several hours, it keeps getting better.

      I, too, hope she got her breakfast burrito.

  40. Bretagne*

    I have a weekly Zoom coworking thing (I’m a freelancer, I like the company). We chat for a bit, work for an hour or so, break to chat for a bit, etc. I usually have Zoom on in the background when I’m working and not chatting, so sometimes I half forget I’m on Zoom until someone announces a break. Of course, I don’t know whether the others do this, how much they look at Zoom where everyone is working quietly, and how much at their work. One time, as I was working/thinking, having forgotten I was on Zoom, I started picking my nose. It took a while before I realised. I was mortified. I have no idea if anyone saw it. Once we had a break, no one mentioned it, and it has never been mentioned since either. I tell myself the others were looking at their work, not at Zoom, and no one saw my deep dive.

  41. Dancin Fool*

    Large divisional meeting, cameras not required but most people couldn’t figure out how to turn their cameras off. One person put a sticky note over the laptop camera lens and then a whole bunch of others thought that was a great idea and followed suit. So the meeting screen was just a ton of yellow squares.

    1. Usagi*

      I had a person that did that in my trainings a while back. Some topics didn’t have a PPT, and we don’t generally require cameras on, so very often it was literally everyone in a virtual room staring at the back of this person’s blue sticky note. Plus she was a chronic unmuter, and would watch tv while in the trainings (i.e., you could hear whatever she was watching in the background). No amount of muting would stop it, as she would just unmute herself, and if I disabled her mic, she would rejoin, thinking something was wrong (so at least she was kind of paying attention!)

      Anyway, one time, I guess the glue on the sticky note lost its stick, and it fell off to reveal her in her underwear, fully reclined on a recliner, watching TV. I tried to get her attention to turn off her camera or put the sticky note back or whatever, but eventually the fastest way to make it stop was to kick her from the meeting.

  42. Dragon_Dreamer*

    Not Zoom, but Yahoo Messenger’s video feature. You could set the camera so that anyone on your friends list could tune in if you had it on. I once forgot I had turned on my camera, and it being near Easter, pulled out a Cadbury egg to munch on.

    Dear readers, at the time, I liked to eat these filling first.

    My screen was quickly covered in instant messages from (mostly male) friends either expressing appreciation and one or two, “did you mean to turn your camera on?”

    I’ve barely touched Cadbury eggs since and never again on camera. My friends still laugh over this one.

    They also enjoyed the time I was catching jellybeans in my mouth for fun on camera, leaned back too far, and fell off the other side of the bed. I took a bookshelf with me, thankfully with no injuries.

    1. londonedit*

      This one, the child riding in on the family dog, and Jane’s burrito are one hundred percent in my current top three :)

      1. Dragon_Dreamer*

        2002 on the Internet was… a very different, more innocent time. Mostly. It was all good natured ribbing. I also learned the year before to NOT get onto Internet Relay Chat while drunk. They saved the log and *still* occasionally pull it out on NYE sometimes, the anniversary of that incident. By the end, I’ve lost almost all vowels on my keyboard, apparently, and it ends with “ive nvbr goten smghesd bfr. i thnk i knw why. bd. nw.”

  43. Anonononono*

    I am still mortified by this and it was over 18 months ago. I was leading a change management team communication type workshop online for a team in my company who were going through a difficult restructuring. It was very important for the well-being of this team. I had just started taking a new medication and apparently began having an allergic reaction while on the call. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I was slurring my words, turned my camera off, and told them I would be right back, but didn’t (couldn’t) think to mute my mic. They heard me stumbling around, and a crash when I fainted. They couldn’t get ahold of my manager but were able to reach my department admin who was able to find my husband’s phone number and called him. By the time my husband got there, I had woken up and tried to get back on the call, but everyone was gone. They thought I was drunk.
    It was late Friday afternoon when all this happened and I wasn’t able to reach most of the people on the call, including the HEAD of that department until Tuesday. I explained I had an allergic reaction and everyone seemed to just be concerned, but knowing that 4 days they all thought I had been drunk makes me sick to my stomach. I have a pretty high-profile position in the company and work closely with executives from around the world and I just hope that this didn’t get out as much as it would if people were in the office.

    1. Det. Charles Boyle*

      I’m disturbed that no one called for an ambulance when you crashed to the floor in a faint. That’s pretty awful.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Sounds like the camera was off by that point, so I’m not sure how they’d be sure that’s what happened with just audio.

    2. Llama Face*

      That’s kinda horrifying that being drunk was their thought; perhaps that says more about them though. I understand why you’d be uncomfortable or concerned with coworkers having that as top of mind.

      I personally would have thought something severe like a seizure.

  44. T minus now*

    In the early days of teaching online, one of my students suddenly unmuted himself and was heard mumbling and swearing about how ****ing hard this all was. I muted him. He unmuted himself again. I muted him. He did it again, so I said “Student, we can hear you – do you mind not doing that now?” as chat comments from the rest of the class came in asking him if he was okay, did he need help, what was going on. He apologized, kept himself muted, and later that day I got a rather nice apology letter from him.

  45. Beth*

    Just last month — a regular Zoom meeting with a group of around 80 people who meet quarterly. One of the attendees, who’s usually VERY Zoom-savvy, started a new in-the-office job about six weeks ago, and apparently her new colleagues don’t have very good boundaries.

    Just as she joined the call, and before she had time to notice that her audio was on, someone barged into her office and engaged her in almost ten minutes of only semi-intelligible but very loud conversation. We couldn’t hear ourselves over Loud Harold, and she couldn’t hear us either — several of us were trying to get her attention and tell her to mute, but she didn’t notice. Her video was off, so we couldn’t wave at her. The guy leading our meeting was frantically trying to find the control to mute participants, but he was new to the role and couldn’t figure it out.

    We were discussing in chat whether anyone had her cell number and could text her when Loud Harold finally took himself off and we could start the meeting.

  46. Rafflesia Reaper*

    Just now, I hit my mute button to scold my cat for trying to eat my sandwich and biting my hand. I was muted to begin with. Oops!

    1. Baby Yoda*

      Sometimes the mute button is very hard to see– and whether or not the line is through it.

  47. JMR*

    My very first Zoom gaffe of the pandemic: I closed out a meeting with a group of overseas collaborators and yelled to my husband in the next room, “Ugh, it was audio-only! I put on a bra for nothing!” – and then immediately realized I had not, in fact, closed out the call.

    1. Sharpiee*

      Not Zoom-related, but a couple of months into the pandemic I had to run to the office for the first time. About 20 minutes after I got there I realized I hadn’t put on a bra, had stained leggings on, and didn’t comb my hair. Chalked it up to extended home confinement syndrome. Luckily no one else was there but I high-tailed it out of there in case someone did.

      1. Lady Ann*

        Early in the pandemic we were all working from home but you could go by the office if you needed anything. I was there one afternoon to grab something and one of my coworkers showed up in red footie pajamas.

  48. Katie*

    Not really a mishap but the amount of cuss words said during calls has grown exponentially from what I heard in the office. I was on a very late call yesterday working through an issue and the amount of language from high ups was funny. Funnier was each time they said said something they would apologize.

    1. kat*

      That happened to me once but in person, the president of the company had come into the meeting room where my boss and I were furiously working to hash something out. We needed to get it to the partner company’s execs and we started talking to the president about it who promptly rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t give a shit what those fuckers want–oh, oh, sorry Kat.” And then he’d keep going and swear again and apologize again. I couldn’t stop laughing.

  49. please be parked next time*

    We held a virtual event with people big in our industry, and one of the panelists was DRIVING WHILE ON ZOOM, wearing over the ear headphones (illegal in our location). Several survey responses talked about how distracting that was, and the incident made it onto Twitter.

  50. Alex the Alchemist*

    We adopted a pair of kittens July 2020. Our girl Ivy was (and still is tbh) especially clingy with me. The most memorable manifestation of this was the first time I ever gave a presentation at my new job. I was going along quite well, feeling very confident, when all of a sudden, Ivy decided to pull a maneuver I like to call “the surprise acupuncture” where she jumped onto my back, claws and all, and wouldn’t let go. I didn’t draw any attention to what happened aside from having a pained expression on my face, did not remove the tiny kitten claws from my back, and finished the presentation with Ivy attached to me. I took her off of me once I could turn off my camera. I’m still not 100% sure whether anyone noticed what happened or if she hid herself well enough, but nobody said anything to me and I’m kind of proud of myself.

    1. pancakes*

      This is amazing. And reminds me of my grandmother, who once had a squirl jump on her for some reason while she was walking across the town green, and unable to detach its little claws from her wool skirt. She walked into the vet’s office with it on!

    2. kitryan*

      My cat, who sadly died late last year, loved visiting me at my desk. To be able to snuggle her and still type I got a sling for her. I kept it hanging on the back of the chair, so when she’d hop up onto my shoulder, I’d grab the sling and slide her into it. After a bit of an adjustment period, she realized that if she hung out in the sling, she could move around a bit on her own and I’d let her stay much longer than if I’d had to hold her the whole time, since she could stay in the sling indefinitely but I could only pause work to hold her without it for a couple minutes at a time.
      Once we got the system sorted out, she would sometimes make Zoom appearances snuggled in her sling, like a little baby.
      This was especially helpful when she got sick, since I could spend more time with her while still working.

      1. Alex the Alchemist*

        Oh that’s so lovely! Do you have a recommendation for a good sling? I want to get one for our boy as he loves to be held. Problem is he’s like 18 pounds so a lot of traditional slings are a little too small for him.

        1. kitryan*

          Sorry, I don’t really have a good rec for bigger cats – my girl was never more than 8lbs and at the time in question was under 7 and fit in the cheap one I’d gotten from Amazon without too much extra space. I don’t think the same brand/type would work well for a cat that was more than double her weight.

        2. Hobbling Up A Hill*

          Might sound weird but have you considered baby slings. Some of those are suitable up to 30lbs.

  51. WestFront*

    This isn’t much of a mishap, but back in late November when I was actively looking for another job, I had a Zoom interview with one of the higher-ups at a company I recently applied to. Mind you, this was November, so the sun was already setting early, and it didn’t help that my room faced west. I was prepared for the sunset, so I drew my blinds so the sun wouldn’t shine right into my face.

    Turns out it wasn’t enough. Ten minutes into the interview, a streak of sunlight leaked through the blinds and shined right into my eyes, and the light was completely reflecting off my face. I did my best to ignore it, and the interviewer made no remarks, but it was so bright that it was distracting and made the rest of my face and the screen darker than it would have been.

    I didn’t get that job, probably for other reasons, but I definitely learned my lesson that day. I was sitting at a 90 degree angle from the window in a small room so this was an honest mistake. Lesson learned.

    1. ecnaseener*

      My windows face east, but my office space gets cold without direct sunlight. So every morning I start out in a sweater, and then mid-morning the sun streams in and heats my desk area up to 80 degrees if I don’t close the blinds first. I’ve gotten very sweaty during some morning meetings!

  52. I still don't have a name*

    I work in corporate training, so the early days of the pandemic were a mad rush to move classes online. As a team lead, I worked ridiculous hours creating training videos and learning the new virtual training platform. Finally, the day came. Our whole team attended the first online training session – we would each take a turn teaching so that we’d be able to learn and troubleshoot together.

    I went first, and when I finished my lesson, I was EXHAUSTED and desperately needed a break. I faked my way through a cheery handoff, pressed mute, grabbed my phone, and blissfully immersed myself in Tiger King highlight videos.

    Several minutes had passed before the text messages started coming through: “Hey, is that you? Are you watching Tiger King??” By this point, I’d enjoyed several “F— Carole Baskins” and at least one “I am broke as sh–. I’m not changing the way I dress. I refuse to wear a suit. I’ve had some kinky sex. I have tried drugs.”

    I’d been broadcasting the whole time. That was the day I learned the very important difference between muting my speakers and muting my microphone.

  53. KGD*

    Okay, so this isn’t a work one because I was on parental leave, but it was MORTIFYING. My son was in Zoom playschool (ridiculous, I know…) and the grocery delivery arrived. We lived in an apartment behind a laundromat at the time, so I went out to get the groceries and at that moment the newborn woke up and started screaming AND my son walked into the laundromat with wet pants and said, “Mummy I had a leak!” Everyone in the laundromat started laughing and I was super flustered trying to get back to the baby… so I grabbed the groceries and got back to the apartment swearing my head off, ripped my shirt open to feed the baby, shouting at my son to JUST WAIT A MINUTE… and realized the whole mess (including my naked breasts) was on Zoom for all of his classmates and their parents’ viewing pleasure Not my finest hour.

  54. Sheila*

    Oh man. This is something *I* did just two weeks ago, and I have no defence at all. I was on a Teams call with 5 other people in my department and being bored I clicked into another screen. Because I am very much “out of sight out of mind” and with the screen showing my colleagues covered, I apparently forgot my camera was on…and took care of some nose business. ::hangs head:: After a few seconds of thorough excavation, I had the dawning horror of remembering I was on camera. I had no choice but to continue the meeting red-faced. I’m really grateful no one brought it up and I can live with my shame in private lol.

    1. Bexy Bexerson*

      Oh no. In another comment I talked about how this happened to me…in a dream. Having it happen for real is just all sorts of mortifying.

    2. RosyGlasses*

      One of my team members did this, and his finger went into his mouth after… and didn’t seem to understand why I slacked him that his camera was still on…

  55. MoonMouse*

    My elderly mother was visiting in 2020 when the crap hit the fan; she made herself at home, deciding her job was keeping my house. I was let go from my job during that time, and as I was settling into a new job I’d often be on video calls to get to know the team.

    I was on a call to the Deputy Director of the division when mom walks in with a pile of my clothes and announces “PANTIES!”, drops them on the bed behind me, and exits.

    Luckily, the DD had a sense of humor….

  56. Second-hand cringe*

    This is probably not uncommon, but I’ll share anyway. On a Zoom training session that included about 70 employees, one person fell asleep, and since they weren’t muted, every so often they would snore and their camera would activate and show them as the “speaker”. In subsequent meetings, the default became for the host to mute all, rather than relying on the attendees to mute themselves. I still get a chuckle out of it.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I could see my mom doing something like this, lol! She often falls asleep during movies and church services too.

    2. Crumbledore*

      I’ve been on multiple calls where someone fell asleep and snored loudly for several minutes. Thankfully they weren’t video calls!

  57. Maudefindlay*

    One woman was on her couch during a group Google Meet and her husband came and sat down next to her with his tray table and proceeded to set up his lunch. You could hear her thru gritted teeth saying “Move” and him just loud as day “What? Why?” Then her “It’s inappropriate you are here”. He then smiled at the camera and slowly slid to the other end of the couch eyes on the camera the whole time.

    Another story, back when schools were closed my daughter was in a class Google Meet and she said “Look Mom, Lily is cutting her hair!” I looked at Lily onscreen in her little box cutting her hair, the actual length, not bangs. I didn’t have her parent’s number so I sent a text to the teacher “Good lord, what time is it?”

    1. Observer*

      This guy sounds like a first class jerk. Also, like he’s really trying to sabotage her.

  58. Catsforbrains*

    I had been waiting for around five minutes for my partner in a casual one on one call and assumed they weren’t going to show, but had stayed in the room just in case.

    My husband came in from his office to check in. My company is going through a transition that messed up our insurance, and resulted in the pharmacy refusing to fill my husbands anti anxiety meds for about four very stressful days. He had finally gotten it all straightened out, but our brief conversation ended with “Anyway, f*** [insurance company], f*** [pharmacy], f*** [company I work for], I love you and I’ll talk to you later.”

    As he leaves my zoom partner calls out “Love you too!!!” and cracks up. She’d joined and wanted to see the whole thing play out. It actually turned out really well – she was going through some health stuff as well and overhearing us talk candidly about how we were feeling in the company shuffle.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      This one’s funny! I am glad the mishap brought more connection between you and your work partner. Insurance and pharmacies really are a PAIN!! Am glad things are straightened out for y’all now.

  59. Cookies for Breakfast*

    So, so many instances of colleagues screen sharing without realising that part of the screen showed things they wouldn’t have wanted others to see (disable the message preview in your Slack notifications, people!).

    I thought I was immune to that, until I hung up on a screen sharing call with my former boss, and realised that one of the open tabs on my browser was very clearly titled as a job posting on LinkedIn. I went as far as a building a plausible excuse in case he asked about it, but never needed it. At the time I chose to believe he hadn’t noticed; in hindsight, at the time he must have known he was on the way to being managed out, and probably noticed but didn’t care.

    1. Alex the Alchemist*

      Yeah at my last job my boss shared his screen and didn’t realize that to the side you could see what was very obviously a feelings-y breakup text. Fortunately one of my coworkers was able to subtly nudge him to change his screenshare settings after that.

    2. WorkLady*

      This is why I (now) use separate browsers for work and personal stuff. I screenshared my bank statement and Amazon cart with the team and decided I needed a new strategy.

    3. My dear Wormwood*

      In the before times, my then-boyfriend shared his screen in a meeting with our chat screen still up:
      Him: so what are you up to today?
      Me: mostly recruiting, so, phoning strangers and asking them to take their clothes off for science.

      It could have been so much worse.

  60. Melanie Cavill*

    One time, a remote meeting briefly turned into an impromptu ‘show off your pets’ spectacle when my cat jumped all over my desk and stuck his little face into the camera. One coworker from a department I rarely interact with was a white man who couldn’t have been older than 30. He looked behind him, shouted “n-word!” and then a black lab trotted in. That was his dog’s name. The conversation just STOPPED. No idea what happened to him after that; ideally many mandatory seminars on not being grossly racist.

      1. UKDancer*

        Ooh ouch. There’s no excuse for calling your dog that. I mean in the film about the Dambusters that was the name given to Guy Gibson’s dog which has caused significant issues to work out what to do when the film is shown now as to whether to delete it, use something else or give a warning. Nobody aged under 120 should be calling their dog something like that.

        One of my aunts did adopt a cat from Battersea that only answered to the name “Pillock” which was unfortunate when she wanted to call him in of an evening. As she used to stand on the front step shouting “Pillock, come in Pillock.” She had tried renaming him Peter but the cat was having none of it.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Andin fairness, it was the name because that was the actual name of Gibson’s dog, so it’s historically accurate (and both his picking the name, and the file being made, were done at a time when, at least in British English the term was common and not seen as being offensive in the way it now is.) I can’t imagine anyone who wasn’t a missive racist thinking it was OK in this day and age
          (I think the film has been dubbed so when it’s shown on TV the fog’s name is Blackie, at least it was the last time I saw it braodcast on TV in the UK)

          1. UKDancer*

            I think they went with Trigger the last time I saw it but it may depend which channel is showing it. Probably because it matches the mouth movements.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          There’s a clip with the dog from that Dambusters film in Pink Floyd’s The Wall movie—I think the main character is watching it on the telly. It always made me cringe and I wondered where it came from. Thank you for solving that mystery.

        3. Siege*

          Not at all Zoom related, but in the early 60s, my mother adopted a cat named Honey. The cat’s name was changed to Penny after the first night, when her then-husband was standing outside saying “Honey! Come here, Honey! Honey, time for dinner!”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That reminds me of a story a vet told in an article I read long ago where someone had a cat named Mother. One day, the cat got out on the fire escape. The owner was standing down on the street yelling up at the cat, “Mother! Don’t jump! DON’T jump, Mother!” When he paused and looked around, he saw a small crowd had gathered and they were staring at him, horrified.

            1. anon for identifying details*

              My sister’s dog is named Granny, so there’s that. No specific stories yet about telling Granny to drop that or not to pick up that dead bird.

    1. Anon for this*

      Oh no – how awful! I hope he got fired. Unrelated to Zoom but related to this story – I was kicked out of the largest agriculture groups on Facebook years back for politely suggesting a woman not name her dog a racial slur (the post was asking for feedback on a few different names she was considering). Apparently I’m the *real* racist for being aware that word is a slur for Asian folks, because her foreign exchange student friend had never heard the word before.

    2. Observer*

      He looked behind him, shouted “n-word!” and then a black lab trotted in. That was his dog’s name.

      Jaw. Dropped.

      What on earth?!

      I don’t know if mandatory seminars is enough. I mean, can’t you just hear him insist that “I’m not racist! That’s just my dog’s name!”

    3. the cat's ass*

      YIKES. Just, no. Though in one of the Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson a dreadful character has a black cat with the same name, which is roundly derided by every other character.

  61. Beth*

    Just an ongoing minor amusement: I have chronic allergies and also hate seeing myself on camera, so I keep my audio and video off on Zoom except when I actually need to participate.

    Several times during every call, I sneeze or have to blow my nose, and the Very Helpful software alerts me that I am muted and tells me how to unmute. I do not unmute for sneezes, no no no.

    1. Murphy*

      I’m recovering from a nasty cold so I keep getting these reminders every time I cough (which is frequent.) No Zoom, really, I want to be muted.

      1. Avery*

        I tend to get that when my dogs start barking like crazy. No, Zoom, I don’t want the rest of the meeting to hear my dogs going nuts for no reason.

    2. Not coping well*

      My neighbour is renovating the house on the other side of my home-office wall (terraced houses). I get that “helpful” notification a lot for his drilling, sawing, hammering etc.!

    3. feath*

      Ha, same! I tend to keep my mic muted via the inline switch instead of the software’s button, easier for me to flick a switch than fumble with finding the mouse and clicking, and the software loves to give me similar reminders.

    4. MC*

      On the one hand I also find this amusing; on the other hand my paranoia appreciates the constant reminders that I’m muted at such times.

      So it’s a win-win really.

  62. the cat's ass*

    I mostly zoomed without mishap from my clinic office, but for a very brief time from home. My office space is in my very narrow walk in closet and i had no background. I realized i had to do something about zoom/backgrounds/etc when one of my patients noted a white blouse behind me and asked why i never wore it to work because it was so pretty. I went back to work instead in a dimly lit ostensibly closed office with 3 other folks (usually there are about 20 of us on any given day), but with a decent zoom background and great ergonomics.

  63. Eggplant*

    Very early in the pandemic, my supervisor and her family got a puppy, who could occasionally be heard in the background of our Teams calls, but it was generally not too disruptive. A few months in, I was in the middle of giving a presentation to my supervisor and our boss, when the puppy barked particularly loudly in the background, and my cat came bounding up the stairs to my office, jumped up on the desk, and then climbed behind the monitor trying to find the dog, unplugging my webcam in the process.

    1. The Wizard Rincewind*

      Stories like this make me really glad that my cats don’t acknowledge video calls at all!

  64. The Wizard Rincewind*

    My boss answered a video call shirtless. He was sitting out in his backyard and I think he thought it would be funny? Or he forgot. Either way, those of us on the call awkwardly went “uhhhh…” and then he hastily turned his video off, except he’s not great with the UI of Zoom on his phone so it took a long time and the camera kept going everywhere.

    Then he played it off, like, “ha ha, isn’t the weather great today? So nice to be sitting outside and soaking up the sun.”

    He’s done that twice now and it actually makes me, the only woman on the team, kind of uncomfortable! It’s a very casual work environment but there would definitely be issues if I hopped on the meeting in my bra.

    1. WFH with Cat*

      Hi, Wizard, just curious if your boss is the complete asshat he sounds like? Laughing off being half-naked on a business call because he was “soaking up the sun” is bad enough — that’s the sort of thing that would get most employees in trouble, as you note — but doing it again sounds to me like he’s definitely moved into sexual harassment territory. Might wanna call HR.

      1. The Wizard Rincewind*

        Ehhhh, kinda? He’s the big boss, has been his own boss for a long time, and is used to calling the shots. He’s a charismatic glad-hander and he never seems prepared for when people don’t find him as funny as he thinks he is.

        (I am autistic and bad at social situations with nuance and he’s been thrown off before by the fact that I don’t laugh at his dad jokes if I don’t think they’re funny or when I take him seriously when he says something deadpan that he doesn’t mean. Which I guess adds another layer to this.)

        He’s not a bad person. If someone called his behavior “sexual harassment” he’d be genuinely horrified. I think it’s a case of being unable to read the room.

        We don’t have HR, but I think if it happens a third time I might have a quiet word with one of the employees who’s been there the longest and has more of a personal relationship with him. I’d feel a little awkward bringing it up to him myself. Like I said, I’m the only woman on the team and I am always monitoring my behavior in light of that.

  65. Three Flowers*

    This may give away my location, but it’s such a bizarre pandemic Zoom norm I don’t care.

    During the early part of the pandemic, my employer (higher education) was scrambling to figure out how to manage pandemic impacts short-term and long-term. We had a leadership meeting every day at 9am. However…our city plays host to an air national guard unit that flies a daily F-35…practice run? Fake sortie to our dreaded enemy Canada? Who knows. Everyone hates it. And it happens every morning between 9 and 9:15. So every one of these meetings we’d just start to dig into the agenda and then have to stop while the fighters flew across the city. You could almost tell where whoever had their mic on lived based on whether they got the F-35 roar before or after you.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, in the fall 2020 election there was actually a local presidential ticket put forward by the Banish the F-35s Party. No, I’m not joking.

    1. SweetestCin*

      **Banish the F-35s Party**

      And where I live, any proposal or political suggestions that any would limit the equipment or vehicles operating out of our local joint military forces base would go absolutely nowhere and probably get someone tarred and feathered!

      There have definitely been days where it was OBVIOUS I live in their flight path. Those are the days I just give up and make sure the higher ups know that I’m NOT unmuting myself because it’ll be a pointless effort.

    2. River Song*

      I also live on the F-35 flight path! If your reference to Canada is a location nod, we are perhaps neighbors. I also regularly have to mute meetings for their flight patterns.

    3. IndustriousLabRat*

      I have a pretty good hunch as to your location! And I’d endure the daily flyovers just to be in closer proximity to what I consider to be the best bagel bakery in New England! Currently, it’s a rare treat for me to get quite that far North and stuff myself shamelessly with their big crusty Asiago bagels. Drooling just thinking about them.

  66. meet the gerbils*

    My very first day of my new job, in January 2021, I was introducing myself to my colleagues via zoom, when my then 7-yo son came in to my office and started chatting with everyone. Then he decided he had to introduce everyone to our three gerbils, so he subsequently grabbed one and thrust it toward the camera. And proceeded to do the same with the other two (though it took him some minutes to find the third). Thankfully everyone was charmed ;) but it wasn’t my intended first impression!

  67. JustAClarifier*

    I was on my first Google Meeting call with a very nice coworker. Mid meeting, her rather large and much older husband walked by, undressing. We were treated to a view of an immensely old, wrinkly, gigantic beer belly and boxers as her face just morphed into sheer horror. I don’t know how I maintained a straight face. None of us said a word and have mentioned it since, but now she enters every meeting with a Zoom background.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I hope she realizes a zoom background won’t necessarily block out an entire moving person behind her…

      1. P*

        My (fully clothed) husband has walked behind me several times and my zoom background blocks him out. If I ever want to bring my baby into the shot (1-1 with a close colleague) even while I’m holding her I have to turn off my background to stop it covering her up too.

    2. Zweisatz*

      Uhm, I think young conventionally attractive people should also not go naked in backgrounds. Maybe ease on the judgement.

  68. The Count*

    Received an invite to interview at a government agency, remote on MS TEAMS. I installed TEAMS, but I couldn’t really test it, as nobody else I knew used it. Day of interview comes and it came as no surprise to me that I couldn’t load the meeting. TEAMS kept telling me I had to download TEAMS, but I already had. Thankfully there was a phone-in option listed on the invite, so I called in. The hiring manager initially refused to do the interview without video, and asked if IT should get involved. I said I didn’t know how IT could fix an issue with my personal computer. He tried to coach me through the installation of TEAMS, which, yup, already did that. Finally I asked if we could do the interview voice only, and he reluctantly agreed. I responded ‘You’ll just have to trust that I do indeed have a head’. Awkward laugh from the interview panel. I pulled out of consideration immediately after the interview.

    1. Gumby*

      We have weekly meetings with one of our customers via Teams. I can never get the meeting to run through my normal Teams application (which I use daily for internal meetings with no problems) and always have to use the browser. And it is also picky about *which* browser it will deign to work on too.

    2. SixTigers*

      MS Teams is a real bugger to try to get to work. It was supposed to Solve Every Problem We Ever Had While Working From Home, but talk about a pain in the monitor! IT had staff detailed to be on call, just sitting there waiting for people to phone in for help, and did we ever. Everyone did their best to get the bugs worked out and we still couldn’t get it to work. At one point I suggested we take the software out and beat it to death in the parking lot with a hammer, and the IT Person du jour thought it was a great idea —

  69. JMR*

    Oh, another one! I’d almost repressed this memory until now.

    I was on Zoom, giving a scientific presentation to a group of co-workers, when a speaker behind me randomly started blasting out techno music. I was panicked and muted myself and ran to the speaker, but in my panic and confusion (1) I had forgotten to turn off video, and I was wearing an Ann Taylor-type work shirt with plaid pajama pants, which the whole team saw, and (2) I could not figure out how to turn the damned thing off. I tried to find my husband to help, but couldn’t, so I gave up, chucked it into the backyard (still blaring music), and came back to wrap up the presentation. I later figured out that my husband was on the treadmill in the garage and scrolling through Facebook, and his phone had connected to the bluetooth speaker automatically. At the time, he couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t hear the audio to any of the videos he was trying to play even though is volume was cranked all the way up. For my part, I was just thoroughly grateful that it was only music, because depending on what sort of activities he got up to, that could have been WAY more embarassing for me than it was.

    1. Leilah*

      This reminds of the time I had a therapy appointment on Zoom from my personal laptop on the main floor. My headphones inexplicably connected to my husband’s laptop directly above me upstairs, and he was in a meeting. His employee got to hear the opening few minutes of my therapy session before he figured out how to disconnect me – luckily it was only a one-on-one. After the appointment was over he came downstairs, told me what had happened (I had no idea) and said, “Sarah said she hopes your week gets better, hang in there!” Luckily I happen to know Sarah (he’s worked there long enough we’ve had a number of social engagements together) and know she is very pro-mental health, so it’s all good!

        1. Elenna*

          Why? If I happened to accidentally hear, while I was talking to a coworker, that their spouse was having a bad week, I think it would be perfectly reasonable to say something like “that sucks, I hope it gets better”.

          1. Annie Moose*

            IMO it’s also sometimes better to acknowledge that you heard something so everybody can move on than to not say anything and leave people wondering, did she hear it? Is she going to judge me for it?? Mention it once, close the loop in a positive/polite way, and then everybody can put it behind them!

  70. Library Stowaway*

    I was in a training meeting and an older volunteer did her full morning calisthenics and workout routine with her camera on- think Jazzercise-type movements. She set her laptop up so the webcam showed her entire living room but would periodically walk back to the laptop and stick her face right up to it. Think peering directly into the webcam. It was delightful.

  71. ShanCon*

    This was for class, not work, but I think it still applies.

    I decided to stay at my mom’s for the first few months of the pandemic, as my job had been put on hiatus and my classes had fully been moved online. I attended Zoom class from my old bedroom, which was in the basement and had been converted to a storage room in my absence (I didn’t visit home that much).

    So the first few days of Zoom class go fine, until my administrative law class. I was muted and had my camera off when my sister’s cat forced his way into the room, jumped up onto the desk, and attempted to jump from the desk onto the window sill – but his feet slipped, and he faceplanted on the ground. All of this happened within the first minute of class, so my professor was still giving us a start-of-class spiel.

    I proceeded to cackle at him and tell him that he was an idiot. This went on for probably another minute, at which point my friend texted me to inform me that I was in fact not muted, and my entire class had heard me. My professor looked very confused as to what was happening.

    I religiously check to see if I’m muted now.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      I’m sure the cat made class more interesting for your classmates, lol! Great story!

  72. House Tyrell*

    My roommate’s coworker took her laptop to the bathroom during a zoom call but forgot to turn her camera off and just dropped her pants to use the toilet in front of everyone and the angle was extremely unfortunate because you could see everything.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Oh no!! This would be my worst nightmare Zoom situation if it happened to me!

    2. ecnaseener*

      NOOOOOOO. This possibility always haunts me – NOT that I ever go to the bathroom during a meeting where I might have to unmute, let alone turn my camera on, doing it in webinars is stressful!

      1. Siege*

        I guess because the two times it’s happened to me I needed to go NOW, and there wasn’t a good way to say “can we resume this in five-to-ten minutes”? Sometimes, we don’t make perfect decisions in the moment.

    3. Chickaletta*

      Something similar almost happened at my work on a call with about 120-150 people. It was a recurring meeting so people treated it casually and unless they were speaking would leave their cameras and mics off. There was the occasional clueless person who didn’t realize their camera was on, but that wasn’t too big of a deal other than their face was big on the screen next to the presenter’s. Except one day, a clueless person happened to be in the bathroom about to get “settled in”, but fortunately the presenter had the presence of mind to say something and clueless flipped over her phone before anything regrettable happened. I think she panicked because she left her camera on for the rest of the meeting, it was just black, like she abandoned it turned over on the bathroom counter. Of course, the worst part is that everyone knew who it was.

  73. Bunny Girl*

    My boyfriend works from home and is often on phone or video calls. Our dog is often in his office because he’s normally content to lie on the floor or the bed and just relax. Except there have been a couple times where he gets REALLY into chewing on one of his stuffed animals and will roll around making very graphic moaning noises. Yes it’s loud enough to be heard. And commented on.

    1. BlueBelle*

      LOL! This just happened to me the other day. My big dog decided she wanted to play and was slapping her “heavy chewer” toy against the floor. It was loud I couldn’t think. I had to tell everyone to hold on for a second and let me get her out of the room.

    2. Nicki Name*

      I remember a call where one of my boss’s dogs was playing with a squeak toy. Except it didn’t squeak, it made more of a wheezy squawk which for some reason conjured up a mental image of a huge, angry duck in the room with him. Listening him talk, randomly punctuated with the noise from the toy, this image just got funnier and funnier for some reason. Luckily, I *was* muted when I finally burst out giggling.

      1. Baby Yoda*

        We gave our friend Bill’s dog a “Mr Bill” doll of SNL fame, and every time the dog pounced on it, it would squee “Ohhhhhhhhh nooooooooooo” and yep, during all of his business calls. It was great.

  74. OyHiOh*

    More on the annoyance level than anything else.

    We’re hiring for a director-level role. We had second round interviews earlier this week. As with the first round, a Zoom link was created for the duration, allowing the panel to log on 15 minutes before the first interview and expecting to stay on for about 15 minutes of debrief after the last interview, and utilizing the waiting room feature to keep interviewees out until the panel was ready for them.

    Each interviewee was asked to select a time, we were able to honor their time preferences, they confirmed in writing that they would be meeting with the panel at X times. I sent out a reminder card a couple days ahead of time, again with the specific time they’d be interviewed, along with the Zoom link, just in case. And this is where the whole thing went haywire.

    Our best candidate got flustered, read too fast, or something, and showed up at, let’s say 9:50, but wasn’t actually scheduled until 11. Emailed him, reminded him of his time slot, and said we were looking forward to meeting with him at 11. He responded and said “well, the Zoom link said 9:50 and I can’t meet at 11, can we meet at noon instead?”

    Face, meet palm

    Did not, in fact, remind a director level candidate how all this works, apologized – why yes I’m female, candidate is male – several times for the confusion, and got the panel to agree to the change in his schedule.

    To be completely fair, the candidate has been happy in his current role for several years and wasn’t actively looking until a friend (a technical expert loosely associated with the project we’re hiring for) said “you’d be great for this!” so it’s quite likely this guy hasn’t run into the conventions of Zoom interviews over the past two years. But also, his round one interview was run in exactly the same format and he managed to log in at the correct time for that one so I’m kind of at a loss.

    Boss is planning to make a decision by the end of the week. The way this candidate behaved over the timing issues (treating it like it was my fault) is a small con in boss’s pros and cons list for each candidate. They’re all strong candidates so the small things may end up being relatively significant. We shall see!

  75. Forrest*

    Oh, just trying to handle a reasonable serious meeting with a two-year-old demanding a cuddle, and only realising she’d removed half her clothes when she stood up in my lap and flung her arms around my neck and I saw her bum broadcast across the company.

  76. TeamPottyMouth*

    I attended a large, mandatory and time-sensitive training with approximately 75 other attendees. Naturally at least 30% of the group failed to mute themselves, and our host was unable to mute individuals for some reason. About 10 minutes into the training, one of our un-muted attendees’ office had a fire alarm go off. VERY LOUDLY. And NATURALLY, the attendee dutifully got up and left the building. Without disconnecting. We ended up having to close the meeting and open a new one so that we could hear the host again.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      Reminds me of the meeting where one party called in, while the rest of us were present in the conference room or also on the call, then put the call on hold forever. Playing loud HOLD music. Had to start a new call for everyone else.

  77. kiki*

    On our anniversary, I sexually harassed my boyfriend while he was on a call with his work team. He was wearing headphones and walking around our apartment and dancing. For most of his calls, he has to listen in but is muted so I had gotten used to being able to talk freely when he was on calls but not in his office. On that call, he forgot to mute himself, which wouldn’t have been a huge issue if I hadn’t been catcalling him and complimenting his butt. It was PG-13 and we were both giggling and having a good time, but then one of his coworkers had to be like, “Um, Greg, you’re not muted.” Luckily, the call was just his immediate team and they felt it was funny and they knew both of us. He has since been promoted, so it didn’t negatively impact his career. But omg

  78. RabidChild*

    I was near the end of my masters program when we had to go virtual. It was a class that mixed cohorts from two different programs, so we had some folks in there we didn’t know. My friends and I became OBSESSED with this woman in the class who just went about her life during class time: cooking dinner, cleaning her apartment, *doing her nails* all with the sound and camera on! It was certainly more interesting than the class lol.

  79. BlueBelle*

    My dog is always glued to my side or he likes to sit on the back of my chair with his head and paws on my shoulder and watch my screen. He is now so common place IT changed my internal directory photo to include one of me with my dog on my shoulder.
    My favorite thing about everyone being WFH is how we now always show our pets, kids, and spouses and we no longer try to pretend we are in the office.

    1. starsaphire*

      This, absolutely! I realized a few weeks back that I had basically just demanded pics of a co-worker’s dogs (he mentioned them in an email) and had a brief second of, OMG this would NOT fly pre-pandemic, that may have been inappropriate.

      (Yes, I got the pics; yes, the doggies are GORgeous; yes, the co-worker was fine with it.)

      1. BlueBelle*

        I have worked from home for years pre-pandemic, and the culture was no non-work sounds, be dressed up as if you were in the office, etc. That all went out the door when we went from 50% of employees WFH to 100%. We are thankfully never going back to the office, so we all appreciate this new culture. We encourage everyone to sit outside, to show us their babies and pets. It is just so much more relaxed and we had record profits in the last 2 years, as well as employee engagement results are up 11% in satisfaction, so everyone is happier!

        1. lilsheba*

          I never saw the point in dressing up to work from home….that is just plain stupid.

          1. SixTigers*

            I didn’t dress to WFH the way I dressed to go into the office, but I did make an effort to wear outfits that were coordinated and looked good. I could have spent the entire time shlepping around in a bathrobe or elderly, baggy pajamas, but I found that I was more productive and more focused if I was dressed at the equivalence of Casual Friday. Including shoes and earrings.

  80. Bexy Bexerson*

    This isn’t something that actually happened on a video call; it’s a dream I had about six months into pandemic remote work.

    I dreamt that I picked my nose (VERY thoroughly!) on camera during a Skype meeting.

    I woke up from this absolutely nightmare before I could see how my dream colleagues reacted.

    I’m not a nose picker, but this still resulted in me being EXTRA careful about video call management from there on out. I’m now permanently WFH due to a disability that I developed during the pandemic. Most of my colleagues are hybrid. We almost never use video. But I still check that my camera cover is engaged ALL THE TIME.

  81. BugHuntress*

    At my last company, the beloved VP of engineering was surprise-fired after a year at 4:30 on a Friday; the CEO didn’t believe her, or the engineers, about how bad the tech debt had gotten from ten years of neglect; he thought she hadn’t made enough progress. CEO promised in Slack speeches to “look for diverse candidates” and someone who was “also a leader in protecting our diverse culture”, but messages quickly fell silent.

    In the meantime, all the rock-star engineers with diverse backgrounds that she’d brought on board start to burn out, and quit, because nobody believes them either about how bad the tech debt is. Their teams start to implode once they leave, because nobody else is preventing outages. The quitting is seen as a mystery, even though in each monthly meeting between the CEO and the engineers, the engineers repeat that the tech debt is too high, we need to slow down the production schedule. But nothing gets better; it only gets worse.

    Finally, the week before New White Dude VP starts, CEO meets with all the engineers on a Zoom call. “What are the biggest problems at this company, so I can present them to (new VP)?” CEO says. “I’m not sure what to tell new VP — I can’t think of any problems offhand.”

    There is a pregnant pause.

    And my friends… all the developers on the Zoom call slowly turn off their cameras. Thirty-plus developers on the call, and they all turn off their cameras. The CEO is left alone, other than the two dudes who are with him in the in-person office.

    CEO is like “Guys? …Guys. C’mon guys.” Then rolls his eyes in frustration, and starts… pretending he doesn’t care? For the next 30 min, he talks to the two dudes who are in the same literal room in the office as him, who reassure him that things aren’t that bad, while 30+ devs keep their cameras off. Lots of loud, confident bloviating.

    Several weeks later, after talking to all the new developers, New White Dude VP makes a presentation about how bad the tech debt is.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        In software development, technical debt is the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer. Analogous with monetary debt, if technical debt is not repaid, it can accumulate “interest”, making it harder to implement changes.

        Example: You code quickly to release quickly, but it’s not the most efficient software solution and eventually all that ineffiency makes your software run slower and slower.

        At some point, you need to refactor code – fix the technical debt – which doesn’t deliver new functionality which is why a company doesn’t necessarily want to spend the time to refactor the code and fix the technical debt.

      2. urguncle*

        Bugs, maintenance, upgrades, etc. Think of it like building an addition to an existing house but you aren’t doing the dishes or cleaning the floors or replacing broken appliances as you go, you’re just focused on adding square footage to the house by any means necessary.

      3. Siege*

        Adding on to what Person from the Resume said, it can be in other formats as well, though code inevitably gets involved. It’s a solid bet that when you go to the doctor, your doctor makes notes about your case on a nice, shiny iPad … but he or she is working with an outdated mainframe in the basement on the other end. The tech debt in that case exists with both the outdated hardware and the outdated code that still runs on the outdated hardware and would need to be updated to a whole new language before you even start to think about updating the hardware. It’s not uncommon for a hardware debt to functionally create a software debt, but then you’re just in a horrible cycle of debt piling on debt. And a lot of organizations pick the customer-facing hardware upgrades over the ones the customer will never see.

        Or the other scenario (I am a pessimist, why do you ask?) is the one where you have a process that for reasons unknown ONLY works on an IBM 8088, so you still have that 8088 in your network system even though it shouldn’t be the only way to make whatever happen. I have heard of a system where the 8088 was a very real part of it, which “ran” a report that never physically printed and in no way actually existed (and may not have actually run, but I don’t remember whether the triggering event was the run command or the existence of a document with the right name for the computer to think it was the report) but if you took it out the whole thing went to crap. Somewhere in the millions of lines of code, there was a hard call to the report that failed and crashed the whole system if the system didn’t think the report had been run.

        Or, yet another way of considering why tech debt happens: if you dig far enough into Firefox’s code, you will still find code from Netscape Navigator. And it’s also why the Y2K bug happened; everyone assumed that it was fine to use short-date format for the year because OBVIOUSLY by 2000 everything being coded in the 60s and 70s would have been replaced and updated.

      4. Posilutely*

        Not to sound too much like Jake, but… thank-you Charles! I have no idea either and assumed it was just me.

    1. kiki*

      Ugh, I’m in tech and ignoring tech debt is such a thing! It’s so frustrating when executives of tech companies act surprised that this is something that needs to be invested in.

  82. BoratVoiceMyWife*

    This was during our 2020 virtual holiday party, which entailed everyone (~50 of us) receiving a box of ingredients and a bottle of wine, getting on Zoom and following along with a chef as he walked us through cooking a meal. Think Hello Fresh but fancier and your coworkers are all there.

    My wife and I log in to find the majority of my coworkers already there. My wife looks at the tiles, spots my great-grandboss and says “who’s she? She’s gorgeous!” I say “that’s the boss’s boss.” My wife says “I figured, she looks like she’s rich.”

    It was then I realized that I wasn’t muted. We both dived out of the frame and prayed that nobody had heard us. Thankfully there was a lot of crosstalk and chatter going on and it appeared we had escaped being heard. I quickly jumped on Slack and asked a few coworkers whether they had heard or seen me saying anything. One said she had heard me say “that’s the boss’s boss” but without the other, slightly less appropriate commentary. My great-grandboss and I thankfully maintain a good relationship.

  83. Sabrina*

    Very early on in the pandemic my dogs started barking during a internal zoom meeting. I apologized and muted myself, but my new manager freaked out. She began reminding me to mute myself via text before almost every meeting we had. About a month later she texted me “I can hear your dogs, you need to mute yourself, this is very distracting!” and I gave myself a second before texting her back “Hi, I’m not in todays meeting, those aren’t my dogs.”

    And she never spoke about it again.

  84. Murphy*

    One time that daycare was closed my husband was going to take my daughter to the park or something and my husband gave me a heads up that they’d be going out soon. I was in a long meeting, muted most of the time. At the exact moment that I unmuted to give my one update, my husband and child both started yelling from the front door “BYE MOMMY I LOVE YOU MOMMY WE’RE GOING NOW” etc etc. My team was cool about it, but the timing of their outburst…*chef’s kiss*

  85. Nicki Name*

    For the first couple months of remote work, my hastily thrown together WFH setup had my laptop camera angled so that it could see part of the hallway leading to the bedroom. I had a meeting every morning where cameras were expected to be on. I lived in fear of Mr. Name, who is a late riser, accidentally appearing on camera in nothing but his underwear. Fortunately that never happened. (My more permanent setup is a nook in a different room, where the camera points at a wall right behind me.)

    1. Siege*