Saying “hop on a call” offends the hell out of me

Hop On A Call

My man TKaps and I, back in the halcyon days of ESPN, used to have a joke about the word “chat.” The joke wasn’t that funny, but here goes: a “chat” should be a nice thing, right? Like if your grandmother came to you and wanted to have a chat, that would be some warm fuzzy type stuff, no? But at ESPN, when a supervisor says they want to “have a chat,” it basically means you’re totally fucked. The word “chat,” thus, was re-contextualized from “sweet family time thing” to “You fucked up and now you’re getting reemed out.” I used to think this was just ESPN. Later I learned it was basically every job and manager under the sun.

Office life did the same to the word “hop,” in some ways. 

If you did a word association on the word “hop,” chances are you’d come to something like “hopscotch” or young children playing. I feel most minds would go there first. Maybe a bunny?

Now in a work context, I’d estimate that about 79 percent of people I’ve ever worked with — a number I totally made up just now — have used the expression “hop on a call” or “I’ve got to hop on a call” at some point in their life. I heard it five times yesterday; that’s basically once per hour. I’ve thought about this enough that I once wrote a post on it.

Unpack this for a second.

You take a word like “hop” — child-like in nature — and you turn it into something where you’re about to talk to someone on the phone about work. It’s not fun. It’s probably boring or transactional. You’re probably eating a bagel as you do it.

That brings me to the bigger point here — does the fact that everyone says “hop on a call” mean they lack respect for the process of actually doing the call? Let’s say a given conference call has 5 people on it, right? (Most probably have double that.) You gotta figure 1 of those people thinks the meeting is pretty important, right? Like for that person, that meeting is crucial to moving forward a deliverable? But for the other four people, they’re off telling their in-person co-workers that they gotta go “hop” on a call — does that mean they don’t view it as something major?

I bet when people have really important, career-advancement-defining phone meetings, they don’t tell their co-workers they’re about to “hop” on a call.

This is either the stupidest thing I’ve ever written/thought or, perhaps, the most insightful. Is the simple use of a word representative of the entire problem with meetings in the first place? (Namely, that not everyone is on the same page from the jump.)


Ted Bauer

One Comment

  1. LOL, I totally understand where you’re coming from on this. To me, it’s just another way in the corporate lexicon to euphemistically describe a task. There are so many perfunctory tasks in corporate drudgery, but you’d better not call it what it is or you’ll come across as negative, not a team player, yada yada yada. People are trying to bring levity to an otherwise dismal situation, I think.

    Another example is saying something is “fun.” I’ve seen this used to describe tasks in trainings so much that it makes me cringe to think about it. Ever been in a class of some kind and the instructor says something like “Ok, class, now we’ll do some fun stuff..”? It’s not fun at all. It’s work. Just call it what it is. Who am I kidding, though? If people were honest, the economy as we know it would crumble.

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