A real life thriller. When the nature calls in the middle of your video call, will you make the right call?
So I'm working on this project.
To quote the client - it is a "UI face lift" of their current product. They also need "a click dummy"- which I later found out to be another term for a high fidelity prototype used by... well, not too many people. The terminology is questionable, but the project is really interesting, so I put semantics aside.
The whole thing is led by this wonderfully smart girl, and the job practically consists of us having video calls every day, talking about screens and what needs to be nipped&tucked.
One beautiful morning, we are casually talking, sipping coffee, and all of a sudden I have a conversation-stopper grade bowel movement that I need to mask as smoothly as I can.
Damn coffee! It got me going.... It got everything inside me going, rapidly, and it was non-negotiable. And for some weird reason, simply telling my colleague that I will call her back was not an option. So I do the only possible thing a committed designer (with no boundaries) would do - I multitask.
"Oh sorry! Seems like my camera just stopped working" - I shamelessly lie as I start my run from my "office" room to the toilet. How I got there without her noticing is a novel on its own, but only once I got there... well that's when the shit hit the fan.
My butt-cheeks touch the toilet seat.
The laptop burns on my thighs as I'm doing my best to make the whole thing seem completely normal. My left hand is drawing a rectangle in Figma, as the right one is searching for the toilet paper, and my knees and claves are balancing the 2,500$ laptop. The pose deserved the name - I decided on the "besier curve" - my yoga instructor would be proud.
Gradually the meeting becomes easier, as my bowels get emptier, and just when I think the worst part is over, I get sluggish. My hand reaches for the flush handle. A Neuron fires alerting me that the mic is on and that I will be exposed, at least sonically. So I stop myself at the last moment and I quickly use my other hand to mute the shame only to click the wrong button... and yes... I turn on the camera.
Oh the shame. She’s going to see it all. The face, the slouched shoulders, the pvc toilet cistern. Oh dear lord, she’s going to see the tiles. Those disgusting blue and orange tiles with a sick yellowish overtone.
My whole life flushes before my eyes and as I sink deeper and deeper into the abyss, the ray of light shines upon me and I realize that the last update of my video-call app added an additional step before triggering the front camera. Whoever designed this, I swear was a fucking genius! If that wasn't a piece of brilliant contextual user experience, I don't know what is!
I was about to keep my job. I was about to keep my dignity! I lifted both hands in the air slightly tilting the laptop. Quads and lower abs did their job. Those 10 years of basketball practice finally paid off.
Just don't touch anything! A moment of peace...
“Ivan?” she breaks the silence, with a disappointment in her voice. Dear lord, did the camera eventually turn on me? Was the camera indeed on, despite my heroic effort? Was this in fact a dark design pattern?
“Yes...?” - I respond slowly, preparing myself for the worst, but she just goes on to say — “Your camera is still not working. And I don't hear you very well. There's a lot of weird noises in your background".
She has no clue. Life can go on.
Two reliefs in a sequence. The plot, the turn, the tiles. The thrill, the shame, the redemption.
The call ended and naturally I felt relief... But some questions remained. Why did I do this to myself in the first place? Why couldn't I just ask her to give me a moment and call her back? Honestly I've no idea. Regardless, I'm gonna blame it on Corona! All this working from home set so many new rules at the same time, and I guess I just ended up being a naive victim of this weird shift in boundaries between my private space and my work environment - I wasn't used to this, I didn't know the proper way to handle the situation in the heat of the moment.
It was a truly terrible experience - the rush, the overwhelming palette of emotions hitting me simultaneously. The fear of exposing myself in this intimate, vulnerable moment. But when it all settled, one thing became clear to me - I couldn't remember the last time anything so exciting happened to me. The last time I felt so... alive. So awake! One might say I must have a pretty boring life, but now that I think of it, I don't know if I'll be able to replicate this feeling ever again.
Maybe I should consider moving my office to the toilet permanently?
My house, my rules!
If my boss is reading this - you know I'm joking? Right?