Friday, 3 June 2016

The Phone Call from Hell - Part One

I bought my first mobile phone back in 1995, not long after I started working in my first full-time job. I had no need for it of course, and calls were really expensive (thanks Telstra​) so I tended not to make many of them, but I enjoyed being contactable any time of the day and night. I spent my first two years under contract with One.Tel (RIP), then a two year contract with Optus, then I moved to Vodafone. Since that time with Voda, I've kept the same number - even though I've moved carriers, I've moved the number with me and had it for about 17 years. I won’t be changing again.


I remember feeling oh so important when I was given a pager during my 2nd job. Now I was contactable via a means other than a telephone. Sure, it was meant to be for work-related purposes only, but it was far cheaper for friends and family to call the paging service and leave a message than it was to call me directly. Oh, how times have changed.

Technological updates and call costs aside, it was during the really expensive period that I decided to call my girlfriend from work one day.

At the time, I worked for an outsourced manufacturing business in Alexandria in Sydney’s inner suburbs. While I spent a lot of my time out on the shop floor, I shared an office with 6 other people - Steve (the big boss), Steve (Ops Manager), Steve (Quality), Lynley (General Admin), Tom (Customer Service) and Robyn (my boss). Yep, I worked in an office with three people who had the same name. They were good times.

Now, because I spent so much time out on the production floor with my team and I didn’t really have any dealings with external customers, I didn’t need nor want a phone in the office. On the rare occasion that I wanted to make a call, I’d simply use Robyn’s.

I usually rang my girlfriend at about lunchtime for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I could actually have a break, put my feet up and relax. But, secondly and probably more importantly, the office was almost always empty so I could do all that lovey dovey sickly sweet chat that young lovers do. This day was one of those times when the office was empty except for one person. Robyn, my boss.

When I came in the door of our office, I noticed two things almost immediately. The first thing was that Robyn’s (our) phone was off the hook and sitting on her desk, and the second was that Robyn was standing at Steve the Ops Manager’s desk, using that phone. She had her back to me and was talking to someone, but I wasn’t listening to what she was saying. At least, not yet.

When Robyn heard me walk in behind her, she spun around towards me, pointed at her desk and simply said “Quickly. Listen to that.”

I thought it was a bit odd at the time that Robyn would be making two phone calls at once, but she was probably on the phone to a call centre or something and was listening to hold music and then had to make a second, more important phone call. As I sat down at her desk and picked up the handset of our phone, I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn't get a chance to call my girlfriend because now I’m stuck here trying to keep my boss happy by listening to hold music.

The only problem was, it wasn't hold music that I started to hear when I put the handset to my ear.

What I heard was the sounds of someone screaming in absolute agony.

(To be continued…)