Always in communication

I laughed when I read the story from Expat mum on doing a radio phone interview from a closet in her home… the only quiet place she could find to conduct the phone interview. I had a similarly mortifying experience this week when on my short trip to Italy for a work meeting. I had a phone teleconference with people in the US scheduled for Wed. evening, which normally would be not a big deal (although I get tired of the fact that work invades my evenings so often due to the time difference to the US). But this time, being in Italy and about to return to England, the phone call time was extremely inconvenient, as it coincided nearly perfectly with the window for checking-in for my flight. I thought I would have no problem finding a quiet corner of Italy from which to call in, but I was massively wrong. Since the flight was Ryanair, they would not check me in until two hours before the flight–which coincided with the middle of the scheduled one hour teleconference. I thus had to be at the airport, since the call would end just over an hour before the scheduled departure (of course the actual departure ended up being yet another hour later, but that’s a different story!) but I could not get through security and thus had to deal with the overhead announcements of departures and final calls for boarding. I therefore went just outside the airport to call in, only to find that the white noise associated with the outside of the airport was remarkably disruptive to the very important phone call. I tried every corner of the front of the airport, but it seemed to only get worse as I moved around. The cell seemed to drop quite a bit more than usual, such that I was playing the, “can you hear me now?” game the whole time. About forty minutes in, my colleagues asked me to give up, since I could not figure out a way to mute the incoming noise from the call in order to stay on and listen. I was ornery and miserable–note that I had been paying cell phone roaming charges to call in at all, so the 40 minute call to that point cost a small fortune and now I was going to miss the “punch line” at the end. I felt bad for the others on the line, although they did seem to appreciate that I was making a substantial effort to participate in the critical meeting. But I learned a valuable lesson: just because one has a cell phone, you still cannot guarantee a reasonable connection or at-home sound quality when traveling. And airports are more noisy than I realized when I made the original plan to call in. I guess I travel so much that I have become immune to the overhead announcements!

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