Richard A. Moran

Rich Moran

‘What’s that noise?” someone asked while on the conference call.

“It sounds like someone is at Niagara Falls,” someone else said.

“I don’t hear anything,” I said. “It sounds sort of like static or something?”

The host of the call said, “OK, well if someone can figure out a way to get rid of Niagara Falls, please do so.” And the call went on.

The noise that all the others heard was me as I was watering the roses. There were people from around the world discussing a new accrual policy or what to do about the degradation of business casual and I didn’t have much to say about either so why not help the roses while discussing billing and cargo shorts? My mistake was that I didn’t activate my favorite button soon enough — the MUTE button.

More than once I have been caught living my dual life and ignoring conference call questions like, “Is someone at the zoo? I hear barking dogs and birds in the background.” Or, “Sounds like someone is standing next to a tractor.” Or, “Is someone at a fiesta? I hear Spanish music in the background.” Or, my favorite, “What’s that clicking sound?” as I clip away pruning plants in the garden.

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I suspect I am not alone in leading a double life of hanging around wine country while trying to do more productive things in different world. I can imagine people all over wine country multi-tasking in creative ways.

I know a cardiologist who consults with her patients while she is walking the dogs through a Chardonnay vineyard. I know of an accountant who prepares tax returns from his deck overlooking a field of Cabernet. The last time I helped with a mobile bottling operation I kept hearing mysterious small voices. The voices were coming from a cell phone in a lawyer’s pocket as he was simultaneously listening to a conference call and putting labels on bottles. Technology makes it all possible to be in a place you love while performing on the job at the same time. It’s like time traveling and it’s a miracle.

The double dipping of work and wine country is not always seamless. The off-site meetings held here are the best examples of good idea but not so sure it works. The off-site participants are easy to spot when you see a group of people dressed in khaki pants/shorts wondering why they flew here from around the world just to be stuck in a conference room. If you can spy into the windowless conference room where they are meeting you will see many colors of Post-it notes with words like communication and teamwork on the notes. Everyone in the room is looking at a watch. The usual plan for the agenda is that the meetings occur in the morning and the afternoons are free for wine tasting and other frolics.

The plan doesn’t work, at least for me. It’s hard to shift gears from discussing the difference between a vision and a mission in the morning and then discuss the difference between a buttery and non-buttery Chardonnay in the afternoon. Somehow, it’s easier to water the roses while on a conference call than it is to be captive in a conference room and then escape to wine country. It’s harder to change gears than to do two things at the same time. I am sure someone is doing research on this dichotomy and I await the results.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that the conference calls are getting much less interesting while watering the roses gains more appeal every day. I say a big prayer of thanks to the inventor of the MUTE button every day.

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Rich Moran is a Gemini who does a lot of things at the same time and likes it.