Even if you’ve never participated in a Zoom meeting, I’m sure you’ve seen them in action on TV. In short, a Zoom meeting looks like a very advanced version of the opening scene from The Brady Bunch, with all the squares and people’s heads in them.

Zoom allows us to actually see and hear participants; colleagues, family, friends. Zoom allows companies to conduct interviews with potential employees. It allows churches to offer contact-free services. Zoom even lets you meet with your doctor instead of going to their office.

In short, Zoom is a fabulous tool in these times of contactless interaction. But, like everything, Zoom can have its moments.

Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to those who have never used Zoom or don’t know how to work within it. But when you use Zoom as much as I do, for meetings that vary from 4 participants to over 100, you’re bound to find something extremely entertaining about it.

If you have been invited to attend a Zoom meeting, you click on the invitation link. This brings you to a screen that allows you to choose whether you want to use the camera and the microphone. In the meetings in which I participate, I use both.

You will then see an extremely unflattering live-action shot of yourself on the screen. There’s been meetings where I can see every pore in my face, not to mention a bit of chocolate on my face from the candy bar I scarfed down before the meeting.

The best part is the microphone. If you’re attending a large meeting, you’re supposed to mute your microphone. This ensures that the meeting doesn’t sound like those taped versions of crowd noises at an NFL game. If you’re participating in a smaller meeting, you usually don’t have to mute yourself. But then you run the risk of this happening:

*4 voices speak at once*

“And so, I was thinking about…..”

“So the newsletter…..”

“I had an idea for the newsletter…….”

“This week’s newsletter…”

 

Then there’s silence. Then….

“Go ahead.”

“No, you go.”

“You were saying?”

“Huh?”

 

I have heard people shouting at one another. I have heard people talking to their kids. “Get in that bathtub now,” followed by a crying half-nude child visible on the screen.

I have been guilty of forgetting to mute myself and been heard talking to my dogs who are conducting a wrestling match in the room where I am sitting. “Peaches! You literally walked over a duck to get to the duck that Jax has! Let him have it! Go get your Lambie! Your LAMBIE!”

Or the helpful spouse/partner: “Do you want your scotch straight up or on the rocks?” Or the ever-frequent sound of someone chewing something crunchy.

Recently, I was hosting a meeting for more than 100 people. In the middle of someone speaking, we heard a loud groaning sound. Everyone stopped for a second, and then we continued. Then once again the groan. Then it progressed into belching and I think a vomiting sound.

We had been hacked. Luckily one of our participants figured out who the uninvited guest was and booted him/her. I was too busy ducking under my desk and laughing to figure it out.

One time, I signed on early and was playing a game on my phone and singing “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” and really getting into the chorus. Dancing and swaying in my chair…the whole works. I looked up from my phone to see someone staring at me from the screen. Luckily, he was smiling! I guess he’s a country music fan.

Another time, during a work Zoom, I had to screen-share a YouTube video to the group. I did it successfully, but along with the video, my screen clearly showed a thumbnail of all the videos I had recently watched, like, “NFL Reporters Getting Hit compilation,” “Tiny Angry Cat at Vet Clinic, “and “$chitt’s Creek Bloopers.”

So, if you ever have to attend a Zoom meeting for work, remember these important hints:

1) Be fully dressed. And stay dressed through the whole meeting.

2) Mute yourself.

3) Ban your fighting dogs to another room.

4) Put your scotch in a travel mug.

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.