Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Shallow? Don't Use A Crackberry

Due to the nature of my old job at BigPaper Corp., I had to be reached anytime, anywhere. So when I first started, the company gave me a prehistoric pager and a cell phone that weighed two pounds. These were in time replaced by an alphanumeric pager and a newer cell phone, and so on, until, in my last year at BigPaper, they gave me a Blackberry.

They say Crackberries are addictive; I wouldn't necessarily agree. Then again, it's hard to be addicted to a device that wakes you up at three in the morning and pulls you out of Saturday-night parties. But it certainly came in handy. It had email and a little Solitaire game that got me through many a town hall meeting, parent orientation, and the kids' awards ceremony. I mostly used it to chat with my friends. There was a group of about forty of us that had set up a mailing list and spent our days arguing about politics, talking about sports, or what have you. It was also immensely useful when working from home. Work was slow at BigPaper, with hardly any programming work to do. As long as you were answering your emails on time, for all intents and purposes you were working hard. Do I have to say more?

Meanwhile, our management realized that the on-call team was shortstaffed (it always was) and added another person to the rotation to ease our suffering. Stan didn't get a Crackberry, though, only a cell phone, probably because he was in training. Stan was an older guy, laid-back and generally nice, if it wasn't for the fact that he could not learn how to take support calls no matter how hard we all tried to teach him. We'd throw reams of documentation at poor Stan and hold daily training sessions - nothing worked. Probably to avoid humiliation, Stan quit answering his phone altogether. Many a call that I received during that year went like this:

"Hi Goldie, sorry, I know that you're not on call this week, sorry to wake you up, but this is high priority, and I called Stan three times and he's not answering. Can you help?"

Like all of us on call, I had recurring dreams of turning in the wretched device, whichever one it was I had on me at the time. My dream would start by turning in my resignation; I would then go around the office saying good-byes to everybody, and finally I would walk into the manager's office and hand over my pager or whatever. At this precise moment I always woke up. But as we know, all dreams come true in the end, and one summer day I found myself in my actual manager's office, handing over my Blackberry. The manager promptly gave it to Stan.

Next morning at my desk, I realized I had to tell my friends about my change of address. Since we were witty little fuckers, I had to make it entertaining, so my email went something like this:

"Hi guys, Just so you know, I'm changing jobs so don't email me at this address anymore. Also, they gave my cell phone to a guy in my office, so unless you want to talk to the guy, don't call my number anymore. I'll let you know when I have a new cell."

And I sent it out to forty people.

Soon enough a girl responded:

"What does the guy look like?"

Oh, you naughty little thing, you. Look at us, going on forty and still chatting up like it's high school. Aw, weren't we cute. But really, what did Stan look like? Well come to think of it, Stan looked like Abe Kenarban from Malcolm in the Middle.

I hit Reply to all and wrote to my forty-people audience:

"He looks like an IT guy. Which as we all know is the opposite of 'hot'".

And, in awe of my own humor, I hit the Send button. Immediately, replies started coming back, with my email text still in them. Something like "oh, that sucks" or similar.

Two minutes later, Stan walked into my office.

"Hey Goldie, your Blackberry is password-protected."

I had forgotten all about the crackberry.

"I'm getting emails," Stan went on, "but I cannot read them. Would you type in the password for me?"

I was so far out of it, I was about to enter the password when it hit me.

Oh shit. Oh shit. They didn't switch the accounts.

Stan was getting my emails.

Including the one I had just sent out describing his looks.

I turned all shades of red and white.

"Nonono Stan, trust me you don't want to read these emails. Let's go have you all set up," and I walked the surprised Stan across the building and over to my friend Ben's desk. Ben was in desktop support. Normally I'd have to put in a support call for something like this, but it was an emergency, damn it.

I turned on the cute.

"Oh hi Ben, how's it going? Yeah... me too. Yeah... I'll miss you too. Hey listen, they gave my blackberry to Stan here and Stan is still getting my emails, can you switch him to his own account? And, like, delete all my emails out of here? What, two days? Um, nooo, this one is a little bit of a rush. Hey (I lowered my voice) if you do this for me, I promise I'll show you why I need it done so fast and I guarantee you won't regret it."

People liked a good gossip at BigPaper - life was generally slow and boring. Plus Ben was my friend. Ten minutes later, the inbox on Stan's Blackberry was empty. Fifteen minutes later, I showed Ben my group email discussion and he left, chuckling. A happy ending for everyone around.

No story is without a moral, and this one has several.

1. Don't use work email for personal shit, duh.
2. If you're in your late thirties and still grade people on their looks, don't advertise it - keep it to yourself. The fact that you didn't grow out of it in fifth grade, like you were supposed to, is embarrassing and you don't want people to find out.
3. Don't make your coworkers pick up your slack, especially during off-work hours. If you don't at least make an effort, the coworkers will become grumpy and start seeking revenge. Who knows what they'll come up with. They don't know it themselves.
And, finally,
4. Always have a good friend in desktop support. You don't know when you will need help hiding an electronic body.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:11 PM

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