Relationships

What’s the Weirdest Place You’ve Taken a Call Lately?

Weirdest Places to Take Calls

Last week, I had a video call with a person in a bathtub…

Lest you picture a tub full of bubbles, or worse, the danger of possible electrocution, allow me to set your mind at ease. She was fully clothed, and the tub was dry — a good thing considering this was a business call and we had never met before. “I’m hiding from the rest of my family,” she hissed, her voice echoing off the tile. “Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m barely holding it together.” It was one of the more refreshing interactions I’ve had lately, both for the frankness of her admission and also for the confirmation that I am not alone.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” a friend said, when I relayed the story. “I usually take my calls from the toilet. I mean, not while I’m using the toilet, but I work from the bathroom when nowhere else in the apartment is quiet enough.” Another friend, who shares a studio apartment with her partner, will sometimes set up shop on the floor of her oversized closet.

Backdrops aside, a lot of my virtual meetings these days have come with some very amusing cameos — pets, children, home deliveries at inopportune moments, roommates moving furniture in the background. On more than one occasion, I have emerged from the bathroom after a shower to discover my boyfriend’s video conference in action and needed to army crawl across the room to avoid being seen in a towel.

As for our household, my boyfriend (whose job involves videoconferencing from morning ’til night) and I (the silent, writerly type) have been “exploring creative solutions” for working from the same space. Over the summer, in search of something resembling private office space, he set up a very attractive waterproof stadium tent in our backyard. (Sorry, neighbors!) As amusing as it looked to his colleagues, the scene grew even more so when he discovered how much the tent leaked when it rained. A few weeks later, we watched from the living room window as the whole thing blew away during a storm. We later rescued it from the neighbor’s yard, but that was the end of that.

Perhaps I can sell him on the bathtub.

What’s the weirdest place you’ve taken a call recently? Do you have any funny moments to share?

P.S. Things to do on a conference call and do you have a personal ritual?

  1. Holly says...

    An afternoon call slipped my mind this spring and I was already at the barn, tacked up and on my horse… So I took the call from the saddle, helmet on, the whole thing. My coworkers were mostly amazed: “Are you ON YOUR HORSE right now?” “Yes, yes I am.”

    • Katherine says...

      That is brilliant! Your work-life balance is admirable!

  2. In my grandma’s walk in closet! Since the wall in my bedroom doesn’t go all the way to the top, sound from the living room always bleeds in and I needed to record a podcast. So I went and did the call in there.

  3. At my kitchen counter. With an empty nest and all three boys off to college and travel, I can actually sit at my kitchen counter and make a phone call without worrying about being interrupted, not being able to hear, or worrying about something happening in my peripheral vision. It’s weird not having them around, and it’s very quiet, but for now, the house is clean when I wake up, it’s quiet when I need it to be, and I’m ALWAYS caught up on the laundry. We’ll see how long this contentment lasts and until I want them home!

  4. Jamie says...

    This was pre-pandemic, but my colleague once joined a conference call from inside a closet at her son’s daycare. I’ve thought about that a lot during pandemic times – sometimes you just do what you have to do!
    Also pre-pandemic, I was visiting a farm in Rwanda for work a few years ago. And was literally on the side of a mountain when my husband texted me a photo of boiling water with the message “is it boiling?” (He can’t cook to save his life). I just texted back a photo of the view 😆

  5. Keri says...

    I’m a doctor and was talking to patients on the phone recently while my two year old yelled in the background, “Mommy all done work now! Mommy all done work now!” Sigh.

  6. Rue says...

    I have a story that is pre-pandemic but conjures up the equivalent feeling of taking a call in a weird place/context. I’m a geology professor, and when I was preparing to interview for my current job, my future department told me to pack a change of clothes for an afternoon field trip in the mountains, which is a common thing to do in my profession: break in the middle of a “business” meeting to dash to the mountains and back. So I packed my field clothes but misunderstood the instructions and left them in the hotel room. Rather than loose precious time in the mountains, I opted to just do the field trip in my interview suit.

    There’s now a photo hanging up on the wall in our office, of people in my department wearing their hiking pants and field shirts and gesturing at the mountains, while I stand next to them in a suit dress, suit jacket, and wedge heels, also gesturing at the mountains. I freaking love that photo.

  7. MK says...

    I take most Zoom calls in my car- the lighting is perfect, plus it’s much more quiet than my house.
    I had a baby end of June, and both the colleagues and college students that I work with have been delighted when I need to show up with a baby on my lap, and understanding when I need to turn off my camera and nurse him.
    In some ways this is so hard, but in some ways the post-maternity leave transition back to work has been so much easier.

    • Carol says...

      I’m on vacation at my sister’s and all of her kids are doing virtual school. They set up a little desk area for my niece that’s in middle school. The backdrop is the wall and the bathroom door. Yesterday she was on a zoom call with her Spanish class. I wasn’t aware of the situation and actually thought everyone was done with school for the day. So the backdrop yesterday was the wall and me in a towel, holding my clothes. (I’m my defense, I thought everyone was downstairs and it’s Ohio and still slightly humid. I wanted to dry off all the way before getting dressed.)

  8. Lindsay says...

    I teach from my garage every day. To be clear, it’s not a *nice* garage, it’s an oversized tool shed… I taught from the bathroom one day when I was out of town and my students debated whether this was an upgrade or a downgrade.

  9. Raleigh says...

    This post was the best! I work in a hospital, so it’s essential that I get-dressed-and-show-up (yay! I won the 2020 lottery. hats off to all of you at home!! xoxo), but I had a couple of remote days recently, and had *not* practiced my WFH video debut. At one point, I was stuck in a very long session watching the morning sun slowly move from one end of the screen to the other, illuminating me like a ghost mid-morning. I couldn’t wait for the darn sun to move. One viewer commented in the chat box, “You look like a statue.” To all you shadowy and illuminated statues and bathtub hiders, hang in there! Your hospital-based friends really do appreciate all of the hard work everyone else is doing to keep communities safe. It’s exhausting, isn’t it. <3

  10. Abigail says...

    I’ve been working from home since 2013, and I notably live alone, so I’m marveling at everyone’s recent work from home revelations. Do I occasionally go to the bathroom while on a conference call? Yes, camera off and muted. Do I occasionally take calls from my car when my apartment building’s undergoing renovations? Yes, and, when appropriate, I’ve mentioned it during a call. This is life, and I’ve primarily experienced acceptance in slightly awkward circumstances. I hope I’ve responded in kind. And if your kids shine through during a call?!? I love them. They bring me joy
    in my solo living space.

  11. Tara D. says...

    At the beginning of quarantine we were still in the potty training process with our my newly minted 4 year old (#1 was no problem but #2 was…more challenging). One day, when my husband was on a company wide zoom call, my son burst into the office with only a t-shirt on (Winnie the Pooh) style and yelled, “Daddy! I went poo poo on the POTTY” at the top of his lungs. My husband was mortified but handled it in stride, his colleagues thought it was hilarious, and we will never forget that moment of light in this dark time.

    • Linds says...

      I was literally on the phone with my realtor this afternoon when my 4-year-old (who is also having a heck of a time using the potty!) yelled “Mom! I pooped!” over and over until I got off the phone. haha

  12. beth says...

    I work for a public library, and while we were only working solely from home for the month of April, I still work 1 day a week from home in order to film and edit videos to upload for the library’s Facebook and YouTube channels. I used to be merely in charge of scheduling program presenters in the library, and somehow I now am the person making the programs (things like: how to make a piñata, how to to do shibori dye, how to make bone broth, etc), and I am filming them from my super tiny house. I’ve been doing them for about 6 months now, and they’ve gotten a lot better in quality, but most videos still feature any one (or sometimes all) of my 3 cats, and no matter how much I try, there is always some kind of clutter visible. Preserved on the Internet forever!

    • beth says...

      Also, this is pretty great: I take ballet, which has meant since March that I take ballet via Zoom, and my beautiful and amazing teacher Jennifer has a chicken who likes to wander in to to the house through the cat door in the middle of class, and then she has to chase her around to get her back outside. Once she came inside and laid an egg. And the piece de resistance: the chicken is named BUBBLES!

  13. Katie B. says...

    The other day I found a rat struggling in a trap by our woodpile and frantically motioned my husband to come out and ease its suffering by ushering it into the great beyond. He muted the conference call he was on, used a shovel to quickly dispatch the rat, then nimbly got back into the conversation with a “I think what I hear you saying here Dana…” as he walked back in to wash his hands.
    We’re much more privy to our co-workers’ personal lives in this Zoom-based culture, but there are still secrets that lurk beneath.

    • Megan says...

      Priceless!

  14. Jennifer S. says...

    I zoomed a class this spring on the kitchen floor with my laptop balanced on the open oven door. Our anxiety rubbed off on our golden retriever, and he needed his daily snuggles.

  15. Erin says...

    My son’s 2nd grade teacher introduced her students to her toddler during an online class meeting today. Said toddler was having a difficult day and just wanted his mom to hold him. He is extremely cute, loves fire trucks, and was very wide-eyed at the view of all the “big kids.” It made my day.

  16. Lisa says...

    From March until July, both my husband and I were working from home, and with a 2 and 4 year old hanging around. The kids just * know * when I’m on a call and choose that moment to go nuts. The only doors in our flat with locks are for the bathrooms, so I have been known to take my duvet and pillow (to sit on and to reduce the echo) in order to take conference calls, including one therapy session via zoom. I also organised a call with someone SUPER SENIOR who had just joined to introduce myself, and my 2 year old wandered in at one point and declared that her bum was sore. He was pretty gallant about it

  17. LT says...

    We have five cats in our small 2BR apartment. We’re still amazed that we have so many, but they are all friends, and they are older, so they sleep most of the time. Three love attention and two like to hide. My professor husband is often on zoom and the cats jump in his lap and steal the show. A few times a day, our calico likes to wander around with a fuzzy little toy snake around in her mouth, and she meows and warbles at the top of her lungs as she does this. She kept doing it during my meetings, so now I have to find her snake before meetings and keep it on my desk. And two of our boys have started fighting whenever I’m at a zoom hearing from city hall. They rarely do this otherwise; maybe they can tell I’m stressed. Every time I unmute my mike to speak, I’m nervous, not only because I hope to persuade a group of commissioners to save a tree in my neighborhood, but because a war might be starting behind me. Some of my colleagues assume our cats howl and attack each other constantly and I can’t blame them.

    • Marta says...

      Once I had a work call when I was on a short trip to Venice. I was in Murano Island, sitting by the old church and talking about some work stuff. Not sure if it was the weirdest place but surely the prettiest.

  18. Jenn says...

    Earlier this year I worked from home for 3.5 months while simultaneously caring for my 3yo. While on a solo call with our VP, I had to say, “hang on a minute, this is going to be super unprofessional” and then pulled my shirtless toddler up to sit in my lap to have a cuddle while continuing the call. He took it in stride but between my daughter and my parrot flying around in the background I earned the title of weirdest background noises at home! Working and looking after kids is so hard, kudos to all those out there doing it (we are now back at daycare/in the office, and my stress has greatly reduced because of it).

    • jane says...

      This trend toward, “we are not back in daycare/office”, etc really concerns me as we are currently at peak contagion levels in the US as well as entering flu season. Are people thinking this is “over” and it’s now safe to resume public living??

    • a.n. says...

      Jane – not necessarily, but there are people who simply cannot do their jobs with their children at home. And in order to care for their children, they must have jobs. my 1 year old went back to a small in-home daycare back in july out of necessity.

    • Katherine says...

      Jane, there’s also a good chance Jenn is in another country- for example, in many parts of Australia school returned in June after 2-3 months remote learning, and some people have returned to offices full or part time. We’ve had no cases in over 3 months in my state, and our worst areas at present are recording well under 20 cases a day. We are none of us living as though we are out of the woods, with many precautions and mostly low level restrictions in place, but much more sense of normality than some months back.
      Really feeling for some cities here and many around the world who are longing for stability, normality and safety in their communities.

    • Jill says...

      I am so disheartened by responses that are pointed and assuming. This is a forum of individuals trying to build each other up while currently living in one of the most difficult situations many of us have experienced. We have no idea anyone’s full living/work situation and should err on the side of kindness with our comments. Jenn – kudos to you for doing what is best for your family.

  19. Jill says...

    Last week I had accidentally scheduled an OB appointment at the same time as the end of a virtual faculty meeting. I haven’t told anyone at my school yet that I am pregnant. I ended up on the call on headphones and got to listen to my principal talk about assessments while peeing into a cup!

  20. Emma says...

    My husband is always swearing up and down that he’s muted, so when I whispered “How do you spell Jillian” I was surprised to hear one of the four on the video conference immediately say J-I-L-L-I-A-N. The other two people said “what” and again he spelt Jullian. When they said what again he said, someone asked how to spell Jillian! Haha I could die and I am also never trusting my husband again!

    • h says...

      haha! Laughing at the confusion you caused in that meeting!! ‘spell what? when? who said that?’ I saw a meme about all meetings these days being like a seance. This fits!

  21. Katrina says...

    We were in an apartment at the beginning of this and my husband took over our dining table as his office. I walked by in the background once while holding our baby in all of her post-blowout cleanup, stark naked baby booty glory. No one seemed to notice, but I thought it was hilarious. We’ve since bought a house and my husband’s very happy to have a designated office now.

    • Katy says...

      This is my dream conference call interruption. Would totally make my week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so, so cute :)

  22. Kate says...

    I’m a therapist and the vast majority of my clients either join from their bed or their car. It has been interesting to get glimpses into people’s lives outside of my office. Sometimes clients will show me something that holds meaning or that they have mentioned before. It also highlights disparities in privacy, acceptance of therapy by those around the client, access to quality internet, etc. I can’t want to go back to in person sessions, but I do think this time has made me a better therapist.

    • Jamie says...

      Love this response.

    • Julie says...

      My boyfriend and I currently live in a tiny lofted studio apartment in Boston. We both work remotely and are constantly on zoom calls. Every morning we coordinate who will get to talk in which meetings, and if we both have an important call at the same time, he will either take it in the bathroom, or I will take my call in our closet. Which isn’t a great time when we’re doing laundry in there at the same time.

    • e says...

      I definitely take all my teletheraphy calls in my car. It’s honestly kinda nice. One time my therapist was sitting on the floor of her living room with her laptop on the coffee table bc they were doing tree work outside her home office, and (not that she wasnt already) it was very humanizing :)

    • Erin says...

      I also take my weekly teletherapy calls from the car. So I’m glad to hear I’m not alone. I place my phone in the mount so I can go hands free. I bring a blanket to make it a little cozier. It’s replaced my routine of commuting to the therapists office and it’s totally deepened our relationship. I think another commenter remarked on the shared humanity of it.

    • M says...

      So glad I’m not the only one doing teletherapy in my car! I feel so strange but I also love the true privacy of it.

    • Alexan says...

      Also taking my teletherapy appointments from my car. I love the privacy and it helps grounds me before session to get “out of the house”, even for an hour. As an aspiring LCSW, I can only imagine the insight you’re getting into client’s lives that I hadn’t considered! Thanks for sharing this side of things

  23. Jill says...

    My first two kids are super close in age and for their first years I was in a mommy fog most of the time. One time I was on a call with pediatrician on our cordless home phone and got in the car to drive to the grocery store while still talking. Surprisingly, the call lasted for a while but then we were disconnected. I think I lived on auto pilot for about two years because of exhaustion. Weirdly though, I miss the simplicity of those days now that those first two are 21 and 20!!

  24. Rach says...

    a daily army crawl to get to my dresser is also a part of my schedule. after 7 months of working from home, still haven’t planned ahead or around the timing of my shower with his morning meeting. I like the challenge!

    • Rach says...

      the car is also my backup office. i locked my keys in my car twice in one day over the summer. the AAA guy was really worried about me…

  25. Steph says...

    As someone who’s sharing a small one-bedroom apartment with a husband who is also on video conference calls all day – the digital false background is a life saver! After I got caught working out in the background on one of his work calls, I made him put up the background and can now wander freely in our apartment without having to duck for cover!

    • sanjay says...

      Very surprised more people here don’t do this! We have no idea of the integrity regarding meta-data collection of a commercial business like Zoom! Personally I require everyone in my sphere to sign up for Signal.

    • I totally agree with using Signal ONLY!
      It really is the only way to do things profesionally!! Especially because we are dealing with businesses here! Not just about Granny’s bunions or a friends meal plannings for a week! I always use my cell-phone on a height ajustable If I see a husband or pet heading my way, I just pick up phone and discretly ease towards a safer area If I need to include any visuals in my meetings, I video it before hand with my comments in the background. Then discuss it face to face with clients, on Signal.

  26. Lauren says...

    My “office” has gotten much tamer this year; pre-pandemic, I was a freelance writer who worked from home and everywhere else (one of my favorite things about what I do). Now I’m making calls at my sofa and the park across the street, at least until it gets really cold.

    In the Before Times, my weirdest call was probably the phone interview I did from a storage room full of live swans.

    • Emma says...

      PLEASE elaborate.

    • Taylor says...

      “A storage room full of live swans.” This cracked me up and sounds like there’s a good story behind it!

    • Lauren says...

      Haha, I volunteer at a wildlife hospital and use my short lunch break to do work-work! Many of the bigger bird-patients are allowed to wander around (in semi-confined spaces) during the day.

  27. Maria F says...

    Rock Creek park in DC (a large forest-like park in the city). It was during early days of quarantine when playgrounds were closed and we had nowhere to go with our 4 year old. Even more amusingly, I had to get off the call by announcing that “sorry, my child just fell into the creek, gotta run!”.

  28. Sarah says...

    This summer, my fiance and I worked from his parents’ beach house for a week. Despite his parents constantly reassuring us that “don’t worry, we’ll stay out of your way when you’re trying to work!” we had such a hard time finding a quiet spot of the house from which to take video calls. For one meeting, I wound up at a small table in their basement. In the middle of a very serious work conversation, my father-in-law appeared in the background wearing a life jacket (indoors) and proceeded to pace back and forth behind me for several minutes as he searched for his other kayaking gear. I could barely keep a straight face during the entire call and I could tell my coworkers were also trying not to laugh, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him to get out of the way! I still laugh every time I think about it.

    • Hope says...

      Been a morning, followed by level 8 cramps. I’m now laugh – crying reading this out loud to my husband. Thank you, and your father – in- law!

  29. Once, I ran out to my car to answer a call…we have paper thin walls, and I could hear my roommate on a rather boisterous zoom meeting, so the car felt the safest lol. And once at my parents, I set up shop in the “harry potter closet” under the stairs. That was an interesting choice ahah!

  30. Kate says...

    I started a new role in August and found the casualness of this new ministry just hilarious. My manager’s children are ALWAYS making noise in the background, or coming up to him and whispering sweetly about things they want to show him or need his help with. He never even addresses the background noise levels in his house so we just giggle and deal with it, as he seems to take it all in stride.

    I love hearing and seeing people’s children and pets in the background. My roommate’s cat was a recent star of a (very casual) ministry-wide Zoom gathering. I kept the camera on him instead of me and the people loved it!

  31. debbie says...

    What a blessing! Thank you for all that you are doing for the kids.

  32. Peg says...

    Seriously, I have been hiding in the garage for a moment of peace for YEARS!!!!
    When my daughter was maybe 9, she poked her head into the garage & said “I know you’re hiding I here!”.
    Finally had to give up my hideaway when my husband started joining me & the garage became family time.

  33. Christie says...

    Pre-covid I did a call at a pet ER (barking dogs and all). That was the worst.

    Now, probably the weirdest I’ve seen is a colleague zooming from a basement, that literally looked like a windowless storage unit filled floor to ceiling with stacks and stacks of papers (excluding a small floor pathway to walk through of course). “I set up a home office in the 90s, and never had to use it until now, so it became my filing cabinet.” Hahahaha (a professor, obviously lol).

    I’ve heard toilets flush, people blowing their nose, someone zooming from a literal garage with the garage door in the background (weekly, so clearly a covid office setup), seen childhood bedrooms, moms zooming while holding little babies, you name it. I give my students credit as they are really really doing their best, we all are.

  34. Jo says...

    My sister did multiple interviews and an induction programme for a long-sought after job at a major tech company from her childhood bedroom having temporarily moved in to our parents’ house during lockdown. She’s had her sights set on the job for a few years because of the amazing international travel opportunities that would come with it, so to now be WFH not even in an office in the city she lives, let alone their offices around the world has been quite tough and a little ironic!

  35. liz says...

    I’ve taken non-video calls where I know I won’t have to speak much while running, to multi task (like a freak). on mute of course with headphones! When I anticipate needing to chime in soon, I start walking a little bit before so my breath sounds normal. I’m weirdly proud of this. lol

    • jules says...

      I try to get off video as much as possible to walk my dog and do the dishwasher/laundry. I’ve also done conference calls in the salon chair while having my hair foiled.

      Worst ever was a micro-managing ex-boss calling me incessantly until I accept the call while hiking the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa (we were in S.A. for work to be fair)

    • Efitz says...

      I do this, too! Nice to know I’m not the only one.

  36. Erin says...

    I had to take a contact tracing online course for work. It wasn’t a call per-se but I absolutely watched about half the training videos from a bubble bath. I just propped my lap top on a stool and soaked in the tub. It was glorious.

    • Lisa says...

      This is genius. I sometimes have to watch / do training sessions for work and they can be so tedious. Doing them while in a bubble bath is a vast improvement

  37. Sarah says...

    I teach elementary school, and the camera angle learning curve has been funny and precious. Lots of parents realizing they’re suddenly in the background, sibling brawls, once a dog peeing. And yesterday, a dad walking around in boxers who RAN once he realized where he was. I’ve loved seeing small slices of my students’ home lives. It will help me to understand them more when (if?) we’re finally back together.

  38. Kristin says...

    I read the title of this post and thought it would be completely boring, but it was fascinating and poignant and hilarious. Cup of Jo always does know best! Hang in there everybody!!

  39. Kelly says...

    I take my therapy call every week in the same spot in front of a house down the street from my own. Sometimes the neighbors pull out of their driveway and I’m standing on their lawn barefoot trying to ground myself during a panic attack. They’ve never asked, though. I like to imagine they think of me as their barefoot Tuesday morning visitor!

    • Isabelle says...

      This is very confusing

  40. Jojo says...

    The only spot in my house with any amount of privacy is the toilet and I have taken several important zoom calls there. Yes, zoom calls with video.

  41. I sit in my car for therapy!

  42. Thank you so much for this. I just read through all of the comments and loved reading everyone else’s experience.

    Meetings are so hard with a kid at home. Right now, I’m taking meetings from my kid’s tiny table that I panic bought second-hand off Facebook Marketplace. Each time I log into Zoom I worry that my colleagues can see my giraffe chair and I know that they can see the homemade Solar System drawing and Alphabet chart behind me.

  43. Debbie says...

    I was climbing Half Dome in Yosemite and my phone rang. A call from my church in Michigan saying left my cooler in their kitchen.

  44. M says...

    I work on a podcast and I’ve been recording under the covers in my bed. It gets a little overheated at times but it’s the best way to replicate the studio sound!

  45. anonymous for this!!!! says...

    I’m the zoom admin for my dept so even if I’m not participating in calls I still have a lot of meetings I manage (sharing screens and muting people and doing behind-the-scenes work). I also have IBS so there have DEFINITELY been calls from my bathroom with the mic and camera muted…

  46. Andrea says...

    Coworker cats are such team players!

    1. One cat walked across my iPad and started a FaceTime call with a group of people at 5 AM. The pads of their feet mimic fingertips!

    2. Another one keeps modifying documents with such helpful comments as “qaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” (yesterday’s insertion) when you leave to use the bathroom or fetch a cup of tea.

    • Emily L says...

      Hahaha thanks for this, it made me laugh out loud!

    • Rusty says...

      Hahahaha!!!!
      Actual tears running down my cheeks.
      I’m not sure why. Ivehad a really stressful day, but this made me laugh SO (maybe too?) Much?!?!
      THANK YOU x

    • Naomi says...

      Ha! All of this. I’ve had my cats get into a fight right behind me on camera. They walk across the desk, between me and the camera, turn to put their butt in my face, and then walk away. The step on the phone or keyboard… But I love it. It humanizes the conversations. Today, I watched a tired dog lift up from a sofa in the background, curl up and go back to sleep. It reminded me that we’re all just living our lives, with families or pets around us.

    • beth says...

      oh, the kitties! When I was in grad school and my laptop was essentially always on and open, one of my kitties (Beatrice, a very charming cross-eyed Siamese) had a knack for somehow stepping on the keyboard when I wasn’t looking and changing the set language to French. It took me months to figure out what was happening!

  47. Claire says...

    Today I was meeting with a few of my students on Zoom and, inexplicably, they looked upside-down on my end. After a few rounds of “are you on a tablet?” and “try turning your camera off and on again,” I gave up and spent the duration of our 45 minute assessments looking at their ceiling light fixtures.

    My most embarrassing moment? In late August, I was sitting at the dining room table eating my lunch while listening to an all staff meeting, muted and with camera off. My roommate had been at his girlfriend’s house for several days, so I joked, “oh my goodness, you’re alive! I feel like I never see you these days!” We chatted back and forth for a minute, laughing at how I often resort to looking out the window for his parked car to see whether or not he’s home. All of a sudden I hear in the background, “can someone send Claire a message? I don’t think she realizes she’s unmuted.” Lo and behold, the *entire* school staff heard this random (and fairly loud) exchange. I was beyond mortified and may or may not have hung up immediately thereafter.

  48. SB says...

    A Target parking lot so that I could jump on their free WiFi (and it was before the store was open so I couldn’t go in!).

    I work abroad so I have a non-US number. Usually not a problem for short visits home. However, I was home over the summer and travelling across the state to get a COVID test so that I could return to work (international flight requirement). I had to drive 6 hours one direction to get the appointment I needed for the COVID test, however, I needed to call to confirm the test before showing up. And you know what guys – where are all the pay phones?!?! So yes, I stopped in the Target parking lot on the way to the clinic so jump on the WiFi and make a Skype phone call. It was successful (and I got my COVID test results in time to fly back!).

    • Mj says...

      Very smart! P
      Our local library designated a few parking spots as WiFi zones for anyone who needs a connection. Out internet went out one day and it was a lifesaver!

    • SB says...

      That’s so smart! Yay for local libraries :)

  49. Patti says...

    I taught third grade from the chair next to my mom’s bed when she was on hospice. She passed away eleven days ago, and some of the sweetest memories are doing my read alouds beside her and how she would light up when I talked about “the kids.” (She was an educator too.)

    Distance learning/teaching may be the pits, but it allowed me to be with her at this time.❤️

    • katie says...

      This is beautiful, Patti. I’m sure her final days were that more peaceful as she could transport back to educating alongside you.

    • Cynthia says...

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom.

    • Christy says...

      That made me tear up, but it’s so beautiful. What sweet memories to have with your mother. Sending you hugs.

    • hanna says...

      <3

    • I lost my mom this summer, and am so familiar with that bedside chair. I am so very sorry you’re going through this–what a gift that she got to witness you doing what you love and share in it with you. xo

    • Suzanne says...

      My heart goes out to you. How lovely that you were able to be with her, and make memories even at this awful time.

    • jules says...

      What a beautiful way for her to see you and to remember her own career and impact at the end. Peace and healing to you as you move through this grief. xo

    • Cathy says...

      How sweet, beautiful, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Sending hugs to you.

    • anon says...

      Omigosh!!! big hugs your way.

  50. Sarah says...

    My 3-year-old daughter recently snuck into my room while I was teaching to use the bathroom. As she came back into my room I turned around to see her pulling her underwear and leggings up over her sweet bum in the background of my video. 🤦‍♀️ No boundaries!

  51. Megan says...

    I’m hiding out in my grandparents’ little cabin in rural Idaho for a week. My kids are officially homeschooling (while I work full-time) and we all needed a change of pace. We were desperate enough that I willingly drove all three of them for 12 hours by myself while my husband stayed home to work in-person.

    Anyway, today I took a video call from the little second floor bedroom in the cabin with a crying toddler on my hip, muting myself and yelling to her brothers to bring me milk, toys, blanket, and so on. Its weird enough that we have internet here, weirder still to be working in these circumstances.

  52. Elle says...

    Ha! The timing is funny! Three days ago I took a call in the bathtub! I never do that but had to take one suddenly. Too funny.

  53. Sarah Jane says...

    I do all of my teaching from the corner of our bedroom. I sit on the floor and the computer is on the (rather deep) windowsill. We are building a shed so soon that will be my office. Today I took a work call while raking chestnuts (my daily chore this time of year).

    • Scout says...

      I’ve missed you, Caroline! Can you please post more?!

  54. GT says...

    In the first couple of weeks with sheltering in place, my little kids would accidentally set off the house alarm during my video calls. This happened 2 days in a row that when the alarm company rep called, he laughed when he heard it was the kids again. Other times, it felt like something out of a horror movie in which the rattling of my locked office door was going louder and louder because of my boy’s hands.

  55. Lisa says...

    Definitely taken a work call while at the OBGYN, waiting in my gown, on the bed, for the doctor to come in (hung up when she did enter the room!)

  56. A says...

    My children have interrupted calls countless times all over the house, no matter how clever i think I’m being about finding a private spot. Mostly the people I’m speaking with are so kind and say “what cute kids!” and wave and say hi to them. But I have one colleague who is clearly not sympathetic to the plight of parents right now and has openly scoffed out loud, made visible expressions of disgust, and told me (not asked me, told me) to “MUTE if you can’t keep them quiet!” And this guy is a father to a teenager. I guess he’s forgotten what it was like to have toddlers? Jerk.

    • K says...

      The only silver lining here is that he’s revealing himself to be a jerk to everyone involved.

      As a parent of young kids myself, I have immense respect for anyone who is holding it all together right now. We are doing our best, and our best is often Herculean. Someday we’re going look back on all this and think whoa, I had no idea I was that strong and resilient.

    • Lindsay says...

      OMG. My friend has a 13-month old, and her coworker is this old grumpy man that FREQUENTLY tells people to keep their kids “under control” while they’re on video calls. At one point, he said on a call, “OK, womenfolk, I know you’re watching your kids but pay attention, because you need to know this, too.” WOMENFOLK. (I think she and a few other parents complained to HR.) He has kids, my friend says, but I’m gonna guess he never changed a diaper in his life!

  57. Leslie says...

    I love you guys, but this post made me a little irritated because thinking about it makes me irritated. I either teach my classes from my toddler son’s room with my computer balanced on our old Boppy or the kitchen table shoved in a corner if he naps. I feel terrible wherever I have to work.

    • Kristina says...

      Leslie I get you. Teaching with little kids is just awful. No one is winning.

    • cristina says...

      Leslie, I totally agree. Obviously I’m grateful for work when so many people don’t have it, but I’m SO angry and resentful that this is the way it is. sending love <3

  58. Sara D says...

    I am a pediatric physical therapist and have done so much singing, jumping, running around my apartment during telehealth sessions that the neighbors knocked on the door to ask if everything was okay when I was yelling and banging around. Whoops!

    I have also used my cat to bribe some of my kids to jump and participate in other activities quite a lot!

    It is so weird for me as a home health PT to have other people see inside MY apartment, when instead I am so used to seeing inside their homes!

    • Em says...

      As a pediatric SLP, this made me smile haha I can picture the scene so well!

  59. paisley says...

    This reminds me of the classic scene in the The Parent trap (1998!!) “It’s an old camp tradition… Talk to your best friend from inside a closet…” YES i’m that person who can recite the whole Parent Trap. It’s becoming more relevant with age… :)

    And for me, it’s more about the great lengths we will go to in our household to make the zoom backdrop look “normal.” Stage it, move furniture, stack random books under the computer… all to make people think we are functioning normally and not in a complete hell hole!

    • Ellen says...

      Same here! I agonize over trying to look “normal” on zoom. Stacking cookbooks to raise my laptop angle, smearing on lipstick so I don’t look like a zombie, tidying up my couch…I FEEL YOU! It honestly makes me so stressed.

      (And I love The Parent Trap reference ;) )

    • Rachel says...

      Haha- yes! This is me too. Throwing on lipstick. Moving all my empty boxes and breast pump out of frame. I’ve worked from home for awhile, but video calls from home are a new expectation. Keeps me on my toes!

    • Efitz says...

      So true. The civil court system in our state has finally begun grinding back into gear this fall, but most hearings and arguments are going forward only remotely, presenting a host of how-to-make-my-house-backdrop-presentable-for-court challenges. For my first from-home oral argument, I spent almost as much time preparing my background as I did the case itself! My concern was compounded by the fact that many lawyers are working from their firm offices again, and I didn’t want it to be obvious that I was still working from home (not that this should be a problem).

  60. Annie says...

    A little different, but I’m teaching online college classes in my son’s nursery! I have to push the crib out of the camera’s view every time (and hope the students don’t hear the baby and toddler in the other room with my husband).

  61. Allegra LaViola says...

    I did a lot of phone calls from parking lots this part of the year. And in outdoor shower stalls. It sounds great in theory (the beach!) but there’s no shade in either place and you are far from the ocean breeze, trying to take yourself seriously while wearing a clammy bathing suit and flip flops under the broiling sun. Add to that spotty reception and people loading their kids into cars, eyeing you like you’re a raving lunatic while you stalk around yelling to coordinate shipping details… not ideal. Anyway the kids had fun!

    • Sonja says...

      this made me laugh so hard in complete sympathy with you and at the ridiculousness of the world right now :)

  62. Sarah says...

    I’m a therapist and I have a couples therapy client who “see” me in their mini-van parked outside of their kid-filled house via video call.

    Every time I see them sitting in their front seats with full view of the steering wheel, I giggle at the absurdity and at the same time almost moved to tears by how hard we are all trying to adapt & make the best of it right now!

    • J says...

      Haha I sit in my car (parked in my driveway) to talk to my therapist every week! It felt so weird at first, and I was worried my neighbors would be staring at me. But being able to go to ANY private place right now is such a privilege, and it helps me a lot!

    • Em says...

      The last two weeks in a row I talked to my therapist on the phone while I was walking through a park near my house, because I don’t have much privacy at home. I got a little teary and ended up just leaning against a light pole for a few minutes , crying into the phone. Lol! Doing whatever it takes at this point.

    • Longdenlife says...

      I took a conference call with a colleague and was too polite to ask why he had carpeted the ceiling of his house (I love looking at other people’s interiors on conference calls – hey, I’m nosy!) – turns out he was in his campervan away from the children! :-)

  63. Rosie says...

    My wife brought me coffee wearing only a bra and bike shorts the other day. “You had your camera on??????” I usually take calls in our walk-in closet that we emptied way back in March. It is actually larger than my first office and certainly larger than a cubicle. I will say that with all of the Zoom calls and the ability to mute yourself and turn off your camera there is a lack of boundaries going on. I have heard many toilets flush.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I have heard many toilets flush” hahahaha

  64. M says...

    My husband recently jumped on a Zoom call in the living room with his 20 guy friends for a Saturday night catch up, but he didn’t mention it to me. Cut to me walking across the living room naked to grab a bath towel from the dryer when I needed it for a shower. My husband is a gamer so it’s not uncommon for him to be talking with his friends on a Saturday night, so I didn’t even notice that he was Zooming. It wasn’t until my walk back from the laundry room that I suddenly noticed all of the male faces staring out from the screen.

    Me: “OH MY GOD, CAN THEY SEE ME?!”
    Husband: “Wait, What? I didn’t even notice you back there. Guys, did you just see my wife naked?”
    Everyone Onscreen: “100%.” “Yep.” “Absolutely.” “Sure did.”

    Honestly, I’m just thankful it wasn’t a work call.

    • Jeanne says...

      Oh. My. God. My mouth is open!

    • SARAH says...

      OMGaaaaahhhh!!! It’s like the Pandemic version of that ‘Say Anything’ column from YM Magazine in the early 90s when teen girls wrote in embarrassing high school stories!!!

    • Sarah says...

      YES Sarah. It is exactly that.

    • Natalie says...

      😂😂😂

    • Claire says...

      I just shrieked so loudly! At least you don’t have to see any of these friends “in person” for a very long time?! For your sake, I hope you are a fast walker like me haha.

    • AJ says...

      Haha! Omg that’s funny

    • N Rogers says...

      This made me laugh so hard I had tears in my eyes!

  65. Cheryl Strong says...

    I had to sit in the parking lot of Starbucks because it was the only available Wi-Fi. It was pretty sad but I did get a drink out of the deal

  66. Holly says...

    this made me smile :)

  67. EP says...

    My husband has been on plenty of long running zoom meetings where he’s had to run to the bathroom while still remaining on the call. 🙈 However, he knows he’s not the only one. One unfortunate guy did the same but forgot to mute himself, the whole team heard flush and all. No one said a word.

    • Kara says...

      I am forever an 8 year old because the accidental bathroom visits on video calls make me giggle hysterically EVERY TIME.

    • Genevieve Martin says...

      I don’t understand everyone saying this! At mine it’s very normal for people to just say “brb” in the call chat and importantly they LEAVE THE LAPTOP BEHIND. Or for people to ask for a “natural break” if things run over an hour.

  68. Caroline says...

    I defended my architectural thesis from my childhood bathroom – I had to position myself on the camera to keep to toilet out of view. That view didn’t seem to scream “please take my research seriously – I promise I worked really hard on it”.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      Omg this for the win

    • A says...

      I teach a Graduate Architecture Studio and this made me very proud of you! I hope you got a glowing critique, and that your critics had a good sense of humor about it.

    • Hedi says...

      I have been teaching architecture from a room, which normally and still is the place where all the dirty and clean, but not yet folded/ironed laundry ends up in massive piles for what feels like an eternity. So be assured you did a brilliant job with your thesis. We the teaching staff are full of respect for all the work our students do under the most adverse circumstance. AND I also very much miss the interction with students and my beautiful creative space at university. We are all in this togehter.

  69. Emily says...

    During “true” quarantine, I was attending my therapy appointments from a decrepit office chair in the garage that had yet to be thrown out. One day, I wasted about 10 precious minutes with my therapist when I discovered a chipmunk had somehow broken into the garage and was hiding under the lawn mower. Oh, COVID.

    • Jo says...

      Oh, thank you for sharing this! It made me laugh and today feels really shitty, so I badly needed something to take my mind off. <3

  70. Alli says...

    Lately everything’s just been from home, and luckily the house is big enough that my husband and I just have to avoid taking calls in the same room. I did have a Zoom call disrupted a few weeks ago by a freak hailstorm outside, though!

    In the past, as a freelancer? I’ve done multiple calls from the car (while my husband drove) using my iPhone as a wifi hotspot for my laptop. I’ve also pulled off the highway a couple of times to deal with random things—the worst was a timely tweet that evidently could absolutely not wait another half-hour to be posted, so I did it from the shoulder (and no longer work with those people).

  71. Kelli says...

    My husband has been recording podcast lessons for his students since March from inside our little closet and in the car using his chrome book. New adventures in teaching.

  72. Colleen says...

    My colleague sits in her car for meetings.

  73. E says...

    Therapy is currently held in the front seat of my car. :)

  74. J. says...

    My job also involves video conferencing for, quite literally, 8-9 hours a day, though I am grateful to work on a fairly casual, fun team.

    Though I cannot imagine how distracting and stressful it must be to have little ones as I don’t have children myself (yet!), I’ll say from the other side of the screen how much I genuinely and deeply love seeing and hearing little ones– even if they’re crying/screaming. At my level, my team is mostly men, and just today I was telling my immediate teammates how special it is for all of the fathers on the team to show feeding babies during quarterly business reviews, pausing important meetings briefly to break up shrieking fights over the iPad, or whatever else it might be (one of my favorites: “I just went to check on [kindergarten daughter] during Zoom school and she was lying on the floor looking scared and then said: ‘Daddy, I do NOT know what a sit-up is.'”).

    It’s so important to model for the younger guys (and everyone, actually!) on my team to see these things and recognize how sacred and important PARENTING is and how it’s a lifetime role for everyone, not just mothers. For the same reason, we throw all the dads on our team elaborate work baby showers when they have new babies and celebrate all the kids’ birthdays in our team chat.

    I realize I didn’t actually answer the question at all — my other favorite video conferencing moment is the silent mouthed “thank you” to an off-screen someone who is dropping a tea, snack, lunch plate, or once for a meeting with Asia late at night, an aperol spritz!! It’s such a quiet gesture of real life and gratitude that I love spotting in a small corner of my screen that reminds me how though this is impossibly difficult, it’s still full of small little gestures of love.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      This is so sweet

    • Amy says...

      Thanks for this. Really beautiful perspective.

    • Ingrid says...

      Love this comment, its shout out to dads, and the kindergartener story…

    • Caitlin says...

      All of this comment is perfect. I just keep rereading it.

    • Alex says...

      This comment captures it all so beautifully! I feel seen. Thanks J.

    • Maeve says...

      love this. And “I do not know what a sit up is!” – I think I’ll still be laughing about that one tomorrow lol :)

    • M says...

      Loved every bit of this

    • AJ says...

      This is ace. I’m reading these comments first thing in the morning (UK time) and this – the final lines – just made a tear roll down my cheek

    • Anne says...

      This is the best. And a good reminder to celebrate your dad colleagues as much as the moms.

    • a.n. says...

      this made me smile, and i read it twice. i am a mother of two (5 yr old and 1yr old) and my peers have seen me holding my toddler while she tries constantly to remove my headset and yells “hiiiii” at everyone, telling my 5yr old to please just wait ONE MORE SEC so i can finish this call, etc. it’s nice to know there are people like you who aren’t annoyed with it :)

    • K says...

      This made me feel so warm. Thank you!

    • Ann says...

      THIS! As only one of the child-less people on my team I am delighted when tiny humans wander into the frame. My co-workers are always apologetic and I practically trip over myself telling them how much I love seeing their kiddos curious faces. Kids are so refreshing with their complete disregard for zoom rules.

    • Mary Beth says...

      I’ve been thinking of this all afternoon.

      In fact, I shared it with a few friends and noted that the ‘mouthed “thank you”‘ comment is not only heartwarming but SO efficient. Had it been in a 300-page novel, it still would be the only thing I remembered.

      Thanks, J.

  75. Heidi says...

    No weird call scenarios, but I am fixated on the carpet surrounding Brigitte’s bathtub….at what point did the world decide carpet in bathrooms was a good thing…? Remember the mats that hugged the bottom of the toilet? So gross.

  76. Kate says...

    An orange grove – it is so serene in there I have been taking a lot of calls there over the past few months.

  77. Olivia says...

    Wait. You have a backyard??

    • Alli says...

      SAME. I read this and thought wait, what?? This is news!

    • Katie says...

      Exactly?? And the neighbors have a yard? Did Caroline move?!

  78. Cynthia says...

    Speaker phone in the OR