Why Phones Are Evil (part 50)

Today my boss called me to ask me how to place a call to Brazil using an American cell phone from the United Kingdom. Because apparently I am a walking instruction manual of international phone doings.

The question was would he dial Brazil as if he were calling from a UK number or would he dial as though he were calling from the USA, since his cell phone has an American number? He was getting impatient and antsy that I didn’t know this off the top of my head.

“But you’re British!” he said, as if that meant something. “You call overseas from the UK all the time.”

“But I call from a land line!” I said, thinking of the twelve billion dollars a minute I’d be paying to use my cell phone for such a purpose. “And I call the United States not Brazil. I dial 001 then the number.”

“I tried that!” he said impatiently. “It doesn’t work.”

“Well, that is because Brazil is not the United States.” I reminded him. “001 is the USA. Brazil’s code is 55. You would dial 00-55 then the number.”

Some mumbling and other rumblings on the other end. I think he thought I was quite likely making this up as I went along. Silly boss. If I was making anything up I’d have him call 1-800-BIG-TITS or something equally satisfying.

“Will that work?” he asked suspiciously.

“It will work from a land line.” I reminded him, “but from your cell, I don’t know. You would have to try it. We are in the ‘trial and error’ phase.”

I called our Telecom department who said, “Well it’s simple. He has an American phone with an American number, he should call as if he was in the United States. He should dial 011-55 then the number just like he would do from the office.”

I conveyed this to my boss who I could feel getting redder with impatience by the second, even from 3,000 miles away. He disappeared to try this method.

In the meantime I called a friend who deals with international calling stuff on a regular basis and he said, “I think you would still call as if you were calling from a UK land line number, even on a U.S. cell. He should dial 00-55 then the number.” which is the opposite of what our Telcom people said.


Boss calls back five minutes later his voice a whole pitch higher. “I can’t get through!” he is fuming. “I get these beeps…”

“You’re quite sure those ‘beeps’ aren’t just the phone ringing?” I ask as kindly as possible in case he blows a gasket as my suggestion he might have the brain of a pea. “Because some of those foreign phones sound different.”

“The number doesn’t work.” he said. “The number. It does. Not. Work.”

I tell him to try the second option, of dialing 00-55 before the number.

“We really need to learn how to do these things!” he says furiously, and by “we” I am in no doubt he means me.

Two minutes later he called again. “I still can’t get through.” he said. “I can’t get this damn thing to work.”

I’m pretty sure he’s doing something stupidly wrong because he and machinery of any sort are diametrically opposed. Asking him to do anything technical is like handing a laptop full of encrypted Government files to a dyslexic ape.

“Why don’t I call the gentleman,” I suggest “and patch him through to you?”

So I call the man in Brazil and get through immediately. I conference him into my boss in London and all is well. Typically, to call my boss all I have to dial is the same number I’d dial if he were on the next block here in NYC.

And people wonder why I hate telephones with a rabid passion. Hello?

Oh, and if anyone has any idea how one dials Brazil from the UK on a US cell phone, be sure to let me know. Thanks.


17 Responses to “Why Phones Are Evil (part 50)”

  1. Teri Says:

    I would assume, like your people told you, that:

    1. he has an American phone
    2. he should dial like he’s still in America
    3. with the 011 then number.

    BUT does he have the chip in his phone that will allow him to do international dialing? If I took my cell phone to the UK and tried to call someone it wouldn’t work because I don’t have a chip or whatever I need in/for my phone.


  2. The Guv'ner Says:

    The problem Miss T. is that I’m not there with him so I don’t completely trust he dialed any of the right numbers at any point. If it were me I’d get on a land line and call normally from the UK instead of fannying about with different combos of numbers.

    I too believe that he just needed to go the 011-55 route and that he just had a meltdown somewhere in the middle.

    And yeah, I’m sure he could’ve solved the problem fairly easily since he was in our London office at the time. I mean duh. Come on dude.

    I know he can call ME 70 times a day from London on his cell so obviously it works overseas. Unless it’s not enabled for South America? I don’t know. As you pointed out it’s not MY EFFING PHONE. BAH. Kill me.

  3. Suze Says:

    You should’ve just kept hanging up on him and saying a bad connection.

    My boss can’t even remember his 4 digit number to retrieve his phone messages.

    When I become ruler of the world, these people are going to pay for trying my AND your patience!

  4. The Guv'ner Says:

    Well Miss Suze, since I am electing myself your right hand dictator woman when that day comes, we will devise revenge on EVERY BOSS who’s ever wasted our time on the mundane and unnecessary in the most heinous of ways.

    Honestly, that thought is what keeps me going.

  5. The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: Says:

    I love your quick thinking to make the problem go away. Men, epsecially men who have titles of some importance in the business world will fly off the handle more easily if they are embarassed by things such as not knowing how to dial a phone.

    I used to be the executive secretary for the CEO of a retail chain who had a huge meltdown one day when I was at lunch (how dare I leave to eat) and he didn’t know how to work the copier and someone walked in on him doing something really stupid to it (I don’t remember what, but it was probably something moronic like trying to put coins in it).

  6. The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: Says:

    I’m an especially bad speller 🙂

  7. The Guv'ner Says:

    SNORT:) Putting coins in the copier would be AWESOME. Especially if you just happened to have CCTV. :):)

    I’m an “epsecially” bad proofer so I didn’t notice till you pointed it out! HA! That’ll teach ya.

  8. WendyB Says:

    “I am a walking instruction manual of international phone doings. ” Cool!!!! I have to think up some good phone doing questions for you. But…if I wanted to give you a hug would I get a papercut? Or are you more of a walking ONLINE instruction manual? Do you have any friends who are walking Excel manuals? Because I could use some help there.

  9. pistols at dawn Says:

    I don’t know how to dial other countries because I don’t want to talk to any of those pinkos, you pinko. What, isn’t America good enough for all your calling needs?

  10. The Guv'ner Says:

    Yes but POD, you don’t want to talk to ANYONE, ANYWHERE!

    And I wholeheartedly applaud that because neither do I.

  11. Oda Says:

    Hello, I’ve been amusing myself at work with your journal for a few months, had to share phone woes. I’m a yank working in London for a multinational company. Several months ago we moved to new offices, and were supplied with the worst phone situation possible. The phones themselves are poorly made and networked to the server, so there’s raft of buggy fun inherent there.

    Then, some bright sparkplug decided that all office phones in Europe should route through the Irish system. So, calling the Pret a Manger I can see from here is a long-distance call, requiring 9 44 (drop the ‘0’) 20 etc. Most have gotten used to it, except the prancer I PA for—it’s still a monumental personal inconvenience requiring operatic huffing and shouting (occasionally stomping out of the office to sulk at home and bother everyone else on IM about his ‘impossible’ working conditions), and of course I’m the one who’s harangued for not making it possible for him to dial out of Outlook with a single click of his mouse.

    Thanks for the laughs—some days I really need them!

  12. pistols at dawn Says:

    You know how true that is? Last month, I used SIX minutes on my cell phone. That’s amazing, even for me and my complete disinterest in the world.

  13. The Guv'ner Says:

    Hi Oda and welcome to the chaos of my life! 🙂

    The phone stuff is ridiculous. I blame it all on cell phones and changing exchanges etc. Whenever my mum calls me in New York from Scotland it shows up on my caller ID as some random LONDON number, probably through her calling card or the like. She used to have one registered in Ireland of all places and I’d get that. The best part is if she calls me direct from Glasgow on regular BT service my caller ID says she’s in BERMUDA! Maybe she moved there and is living a life of luxury and didn’t tell me! Biatch!

    It’s so complicated. And my boss will say “so when I get to RUSSIA how do I call Argentina on my American cell?” and I’m supposed to KNOW. Dude, that’s what the internet is for.

    I just laughed out loud at the word “prancer”. I am so stealing that. 🙂 It is SO apt.

  14. The Guv'ner Says:

    You know Mr. POD. I use on average of 20 minutes a month on mine. That is SAD. But I just hate phones. I am not phone phobic or anything I just have no desire to chat on them. I’d rather do that face to face. I mean overseas people can’t really be avoided (boy i made that sound awful didn’t i?) but I just hate them. I will send texts and I will call you to say I’m running late but that’s IT. I’m so goddamn antisocial.

    Six minutes though. You might be my hero.

  15. Oda Says:

    Steal away 🙂 “That prancer” and “the ballerina” are the two relatively polite terms used daily.

  16. the Secretary Says:

    This is why I refuse to get involved. I transfer my boss directly to technical support and I refuse (and pretend to know nothing about) his Blackberry. When he hands it to me I say “sorry, how do you turn this on” and turn it over in my hands as if it’s a big mystery. It’s the only thing I play dumb at.

  17. The Guv'ner Says:

    The first time someone handed me a Blackberry to “deal” with, I COULDN’T figure how to turn it on, for real! I was like “WTF???” Now I just sort of mess around with it while grunting knowledgably then hand it over to tech support when he’s not looking, to work their magic. 🙂

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