Alex Trebek says Justin Trudeau wears a hidden buzzer to escape meetings and now we all want one

Sorry to interrupt Mr. Trudeau, but you’ve got that…thing…you need to do.
Sorry to interrupt Mr. Trudeau, but you’ve got that…thing…you need to do.
Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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I’ll take “Things we desperately hope are true” for $1,200, Alex.

In a wide-ranging interview with Vulture that touched on everything from politics to the Catholic Church to the #MeToo movement, longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek casually made this odd claim: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau wears a hidden “buzzer” in his shirt that alerts his staff when he wants to be discreetly extracted from a meeting.

Trebek, also a native of Canada, told Vulture that he once met with Trudeau (photos from Trudeau’s website show the two met in 2016 in the prime minister’s Centre Block office) and then something curious happened:

Have you met President Trump? Or Prime Minister Trudeau?
I have not met Donald Trump. I’ve met Trudeau. I spent almost an hour with him in Ottawa. I’m keenly aware of little nuances, and I noticed at one point, after about 45 minutes, that Justin did something like this [scratches under his shirt], and about ten seconds later, there was a knock on the door and one of his assistants came in and said, “Mr. Prime Minister, you have a meeting.”

I don’t follow.
He has a buzzer under his shirt that he can use to signal his assistants when it’s time to come and get him. But Trudeau did say to me, “Count me in if you ever do a celebrity tournament featuring world political leaders.” I said, “I can’t think of anybody who would want to take you on.”

The Jeopardy! host is famous for his extremely wry sense of humor, so it’s entirely possible that he was joking. In any event, Trudeau’s office denied Trebek’s claim:

And yet, the “hidden button that gets people out of meetings” is actually a real thing.

As The Wrap noted last year, Pope Pius XI reportedly had a button under his desk in the Papal Palace that could alert an attendant waiting outside the room to enter and usher out visitors. The legendary button appeared in a hilarious scene in HBO’s The Young Pope in which the pope pushes it to get out of an awkward conversation. In comes his papal secretary: “Time for your snack, holy father.”

The pope is not the only world leader with an escape button. Royal historian Hugo Vickers told People magazine in 2011 that not only does Queen Elizabeth II have a “discreet buzzer” in her Buckingham Palace suite, but she also uses a system of secret signals that let staff know when she wants to leave a conversation, including ring twists and handbag movements.

You don’t necessarily need to be a head of state or royalty to have a similar escape hatch. There are a number of apps that buzz your phone with a fake call, text, or other type of alert to provide you with the perfect excuse to stop talking to someone. Or you could just pull a Larry David and ignore people entirely (video).