I’m seeing a lot of living rooms these days.

Well, not in person of course. That’s happening far, far less. The only living room you get to visit in the pandemic age is your own, which in my case is rather boring. Son, daughter, wife. Nothing exotic or interesting in this little zoo enclosure, I assure you.

But I have been zooming a lot, which has forced me to peer into the domestic warrens of a growing number of associates.

Zoom meetings with clients. Zoom meetings with colleagues. I’ve had zoom meetings with accountants and brokers and to demonstrate that hell really has frozen over, I’ve even group zoomed with a bunch of lawyers.

Each portal gets me uncomfortably close to someone I want to know on a strictly professional basis.

I don’t want to see my boss in a singlet, nor do I want to hear him squabble with his wife. On our last company call I heard two babies crying, saw a paraplanner’s flatmate saunter past in underwear and gaped in horror at our office manager who spent the first 30 minutes of the call applying her makeup.

My clients are even worse. Yesterday I delivered a statement of advice to a middle-aged man who didn’t even bother getting out of bed; he just laid prone with his laptop on his chest and two chin rolls the only thing between myself and his unsightly nose hair.

Twice I’ve done a review meeting while a client is eating a meal. Cereal and pizza, in case you’re interested.

I’ve even chatted to a divorcee who was wearing what I can assume was a bra, although it may have been some type of sporting apparel. The line between those two has become alarmingly blurred these days.

The framing and quality of these video calls is equally all over the place. Our chief of staff recently spent a two-hour meeting with only his forehead in the picture, while our secretary insisted on pointing the screen at the cat in her lap. I’d throttle the idiots that sit with a bright light behind them if I could actually identify them by their silhouettes.

The less said about virtual backgrounds the better. I’m sure the lack of resolution on these cursed things causes epilepsy.

The most shameful element of this whole video conferencing endeavour is that I can’t seem to elevate myself above the riff-raff. After an initial burst of ironing, my shirts are becoming as ruffled as dishrags. None of the corners in my house seem to give appropriate lighting and my children think it is their god given right to parade through the living room when I’m trying to talk an ageing war widow out of setting up and SMSF.

For my progress meeting with the lawyers this afternoon, I think I’ll try something different and sit outside. Surely foliage provides a better background than household detritus and miscreant family members.

I must remember to tie up the dog.

Dixon Bainbridge may be contacted by email only since his phone was disconnected - and it's best to try in the mornings. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Professional Planner, and not even necessarily grounded in reality, to be frank.
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