After a decade in the Air Force I finally realized what a huge waste of time the desk phone has become. It’s a paperweight. It’s a plastic mess. It’s an unnecessary piece of garbage that we insist on using in 2019.
I’m not saying instant voice communication is unnecessary, though. We still need to be able to talk to people on occasion–say, a few times per week. I’m just saying we’ve over-used the desk phone since the invention of the computer, the smartphone, Internet, and all the technology that comes along with said items.
In this day and age, the teammates who need to get in touch with me know how to do so. They can text me or call me on my cell. If someone doesn’t know how to get a hold of me, it’s probably because they don’t have a need to know how to get a hold of me. That sounds arrogant. I call it efficient.
This is a letter to office workers who have a desk and sit at it for a set amount of hours per day. You’ve got an iPhone. You’ve got a computer with instant message capabilities. You’ve got E-mail access in more places than you would ever need to access E-mail. Why does your office insist that you have a desk phone, too? Like…an office number? Why? Why would you allow someone to interrupt whatever you’re working on for the sake of interrupting you with whatever seemingly-urgent they had? Nothing is that important, and if it were, someone would track you down and find you in your office or in the break room, right?
I became a huge critic of the desk phone when I became a Captain in the Air Force and realized that the only time anyone would try to get in touch with me via telephone was when they thought they needed something from me right now. That’s because their time is more valuable to them than my time is to them. I had a lot of higher-ranking officers tell me, “You know Kyle, you should really get your desk phone on your signature block and in the Global Address Listing so that people can call you whenever the hell they want” (that last part added tongue-in-cheek).
Here’s an example of things I’d hear while passing people in the halls or running into them in the commissary:
Other Bureaucrat: “Hey Captain! I was trying to call you earlier ’cause I had a question, but couldn’t find your number listed anywhere!”
Me (also a bureaucrat): “Oh really, what were you after?”
That Same Bureaucrat: “Well I wasn’t sure how many people RSVP’d to the squadron picnic next week. I’m in charge of bringing the forks and sp–”
Me: “Oh ok. Yeah you could E-mail me in the future. Answer is 55.”
Bureaucrat: “Oh nice! OK thanks!”
…………Yeah, so…like I said, the desk phone is basically pointless. I honestly can’t think of a single time when something urgent was happening and a crisis was averted because of someone picking up their desk phone. It’s usually used to bother a call-recipient when the call-initiator is bored. And then you get to hear the initiator ramble about a follow-up question he thinks he had, but must have forgotten…Oh wait, no he didn’t–oh wait, no, he can’t remember. He’ll call you back when he thinks of it. Alright, talk to you later.