Pam saves her job on the hit show ‘The Office’ by not buying a VoIP phone system.
Punch-key PBXs (traditional office phone systems with those old RJ-11 phone jacks) have officially crossed over into comedic territory. Most businesspeople now know that a VoIP-based phone system allows offices to be much more efficient, and a recent episode of The Office shows just how common this notion has become.
The episode begins with a VoIP phone system salesperson soliciting Dunder Mifflin. Pam, the company’s receptionist, soon realizes that the new phone system would do 90% of her job. She starts lying to the salesperson in order to prevent him from getting a meeting with Michael, her boss.
When Pam has run out of every excuse she can think of, Jim (the practical joker) steps between Michael and the phone-system salesperson and belts out a Fonzie-type “Aaaay!” Others in the office start repeating “Aaaay!” and the perplexed phone system salesperson leaves.
If it’s this obvious to a group of writers at NBC, who probably rely less on their office phone systems than the rest of us, has VoIP “jumped the shark?”
A phrase coined on Happy Days, “jumping the shark” describes anything that has passed its peak. It doesn’t really apply in this case, though, since many office phone systems are still old PSTN-based PBXs.
But while most offices still rely on old-school telecom technology, The Office shows that VoIP is sufficiently common to generate laughs – and demonstrates that in the corporate world, VoIP adoption is on the rise.
Originally published Jul 24, 2009, updated Aug 12, 2020