MY FRIEND LIFT LURKER was trying to think of new business ideas.
“What about selling advertizing space on the sides of coffins?” he said. “They could carry, say, a slogan for Facebook: ‘Follow my status updates’.”
Yeah, right, I said. Dead people don’t do a lot of status updates.
This was almost as bad as his previous idea: audio-books for the hearing impaired in which “the reader screams at the top of her voice”.
He may sound a bit wacko (“bit” in the ironic sense of “immensely”) but he occasionally comes up with a good idea.
One emerged last week in the comments column after he was stuck for two hours on a conference call. (The use of conference calls is growing at high speed worldwide.)
Instead of the usual mix of accents and sexes, everyone on the call was Indian and male:
Kumar in Bangladesh, Sanjiv in London, Ramesh in Hong Kong and so on.
Confusion reigned as all the voices blurred into one.
“I’m tinking we should increase price 15 percent. I agree. So do I. I don’t. Me neither. Who doesn’t? Me. Is that Ramesh? Is who Ramesh? You. Me? Or him? I’m Sanjiv. Who disagreed? Me. Who are you? Who is who? Are you asking me? Or me? Or me? Or me?” Etc, etc. Nightmare.
It gave Liftie the brilliant idea of linking voice analysis software to his phone.
After each person speaks, the “intelligent teleconference assistant” or ITA would whisper in the caller’s ear: “That was Kumar.”
You could even add a lie-detector program, he said, so the computer would say: “That was Kumar and the b@#$^ was lying.”
I really loved this concept and mentioned it to a mainland Chinese investment banker who is permanently on conference calls to Shanghai and New Delhi.
She hated the idea.
“Once I told someone during a conference call that his idea stank,” she said. “It turned out to be the chairman of the client company. I spent the rest of the time talking in a squeaky voice to disguise myself.”
But she came up with amendment.
At the beginning of a conference call, each caller is given the option to choose a signature tune, which plays quietly underneath their utterances.
You can select one to match your personality.
Arrogant male: “James Bond Theme”.
Servile Bootlicker: “I Wanna Kiss You All Over”.
Massive egotist: “Me Myself and I”.
I liked this idea too. Indeed, one could even make a list of music tracks which sent subliminal messages to the other people on the conference call.
If you want a pay rise:
“Money (That’s What I Want)” by the Flying Lizards.
If you’re attracted to your workmate: “Hello I Love You” by The Doors.
If you’re desperate for a positive response: “Please Please Me” by the Beatles.
If you are going to share some illegal insider information: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
And what if you’re the boss, and you are going to say no to all the costly requests from your staff? You theme would be: “Be Thankful For What You Got” by Massive Attack.
And if they don’t get the message, switch to a track from the Sound of Music: “So Long, Farewell”.
Any other suggestions, before Liftie and I take this to the phone companies?