They were using a desk phone instead of a proper conference phone, all talking at once (half of them contractors with heavy Indian accents) and in the rare moments when the speech would have been otherwise legible, it was mostly drowned out by the sound of shuffling and typing.
While they had the screen on the initial computer shared with me, half of the windows that came up showed as garbage at my end because she had some privacy filters enabled. Finally the one contractor picked up the phone and said, "We're moving to a different computer." [click]
Wait... did she just hang up on me or put me on hold? That sounded an awful lot like a receiver being dropped back into its cradle.
I sat here and listened to dead air for a couple of minutes, wondering if they had hung up by accident, if I was supposed to call them back at a different (undisclosed) number, or if they were going to call me. I tried calling the first number again and it bounced to a generic voice mail after a few rings. I waited a couple of minutes and called again. This time same contractor who had hung up on me picked up the phone and said, "plonq, yes, they have moved to a different computer." [click]
When they finally called me back, they simply dialled me up from another speaker phone with no acknowledgement or salutation. My phone rang and when I answered it I found myself listening to a bunch of people in mid-conversation over a noisy background. In spite of repeated requests from me, they would not share the desktop with me on the new computer, so I was getting very limited benefit from the call.
"Try expanding that."
"Click over there."
"Okay, so why doesn't this formula look like that one?"
I don't know about them, but I value my time more than that (I could have been doing something useful like bitching to LJ about it) so I asked them to send me the crib notes from the meeting later and hung up.
This Father Christmas might not look that creepy in isolation, but imagine a whole bunch of lined up along the side of the hall, all of them with the same dead eyes, and no two of them quite looking the same direction. Also this picture does not give a proper sense of scale - these guys are pretty big.
It must be Christmas because the mall just got a little creepier.