I have a telephone headset with a "confusing" mute button. Sometimes it works normally, but quite often it will "double-toggle" (toggle twice as though I pressed it twice, which essentially has no effect) - so I'm either left muted or left un-muted, the same as before I pressed the button at all - so I have to press it again, sometimes several times, for it to actuary work.

While I'm at my desk, I have a visual indicator of mute status (a light that turns green for un-muted or red for muted), so I can easily tell if my mic is hot or not. My old headset had a nice audible beep reminder if I was muted, but the new headset? Nope, not-so-much.

I work from home, while my wife works at an office; so each morning she leaves, but I stay in the home office. I almost always see her off one way or another, usually doing or saying something funny as she heads out.

So, one day, I'm on a large conference call with a number of cross-team managers, and my wife is about to head out the door. With the meeting droning on in my headset, I was in the kitchen with her for a while helping finish clean up after breakfast and getting her ready to go.

She needed to pack an ice-pack for some reason, and for the random humor of it, I start screaming something to the effect of "GIMMIE YO ICE PACKS - GIMMIE ALLLL YO ICE PACKS - YEAH! YEAH! IMMA PUT MY BAAAAAAAAALLLLLS ON IT - WHOOOOOOOOO!"

During which time I am jumping around like a crazy person, including actually grabbing one of the ice packs, putting it down the front of my pants and screaming. Loudly.

It was after my own screaming I overheard more than one person yelling on the bridge line "YOU'RE NOT MUTED! YOU'RE NOT MUTED!"

I have seldom felt such raw, unadulterated panic.

I rushed back to my home office - yes, the green light is on my desk - my mic is hot. When I pressed mute at some point earlier in the call, it double-toggled, leaving me un-muted, and I never knew.

Even more embarrassing was the chat session I saw on my computer screen. It was from my manager (one of the managers on the call) - he had pinged me several times while I was in the kitchen.

It read something like:

hey, you there?
is that your phone
I think your phone isn't muted
dude, mute
is that you?
did you just say balls?

  • 18
    "did you just say balls?" my sides 😂
  • 6
    You can buy wireless headsets with little red lights on the microphone boom, now. Your pain has given the rest of us this advancement.
  • 4
    @starless I can only choose from a couple models of headsets (well, to have work pay for it, which I certainly do, haha).

    The current model we can get is pretty crappy - the sound quality is great, but the mute button is (obviously) pretty sad... It does have a (very bright) led on the boom... which just means the headset is turned on. _sigh_

    The older model I had for years made a very low-volume "beep-beep" every 30 seconds or so to remind you that you were muted, but the new model did away with that. It actually does deep when you hit the mute button, but when it double-toggles you can't hear the difference.

    Now I just blow obnoxiously on the mic and see if I get feedback in my ear to check mute. That really pisses off people on the calls, so it's a win-win.

    Just all-around total failure in design. I keep watching the employee catalog for a new model - mine is going to "break", ahem, as soon as that happens...
  • 4
    "This guy fucks!"
  • 3
    @cdrice one of the few advantages of being in a long distance relationship-- it's easy to justify a nice wireless headset.

    If you're ever in the market, I'm a fan of the ones Logitech tends to make. The build quality is usually pretty good and, of course, they have mute lights.
  • 1
    @starless Thanks! If work doesn't approve a new model reasonably soon, I may just have to splurge on one for myself... With a good mute indicator... 😋
  • 11
    @0x41 To this day, my wife and I will randomly turn to one another for no reason and deadpan-mutter "did you just say 'balls'?" and then both burst into maniacal laughter.

    It has been a while now and I still have my job, so I guess it's safe to laugh... but I'll tell ya, for the first few days I was _not_ laughing. My wife was, but I was not...
  • 1
    Hahahahaha now that's a good story! Hope that everything went fine after that!
  • 1
    @cdrice This is exactly the story you need to bring up with your manager when you request that he forks out for an out of catalogue headset for you!
  • 2
    @brahn "I have the only one thing to say about the current hardware selection for telephone headsets."

    "Yes, go ahead."

    [ dramatic pause ] "balls"
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