In March, I managed to lose my cell phone in the Orlando airport while running from the rental car return to the Southwest gates. Why was I running? That’s a good aside to this story, but it’s also long enough to warrant its own post focusing on the stupidity of senior management.
Back to phones… I lost my old LG VX5200 and I emailed the patient lady who handles our department’s interaction with Verizon. I’d had that LG for about a year, and I like to think that losing an item like that is unlike me, but I was still embarrassed to have lost it. In my note I referenced all the traveling I was doing as part of the super secret assignment I was part of at the time. Given that time on the road, I asked about the possibility of replacing the LG with a more capable phone. The department budget lady gave the green light to a BlackBerry 8703e, which I wasn’t sure I wanted, but I looked forward to mobile email.
A week later, while on vacation, I made the mistake of checking my work email, and learned that the budget lady had been overruled by the department boss, who canceled my prospective BlackBerry primarily because he was concerned that all of my colleagues, once they saw I had a new gizmo, would clamor for new gizmos of their own. To say I find this laughable is such an understatement. So many of my colleagues are such luddites that the idea they’d even notice I had a new gizmo is ridiculous. Even if they were to notice, the notion that they’d be envious and want a corresponding gizmo of their own is even more ludicrous. This is the same group of people who cannot master their fax machines, who find Outlook meeting invitations to be useless clutter, and who cannot conceive of doing anything more useful with the web than look up phone numbers or maps.
The department boss went on to say, to the budget lady, that my responsibilities didn’t merit the cost associated with the BlackBerry. The reason that sticks in my craw is that the department boss has decided his responsibilities merit a cell phone, a BlackBerry, and a mobile broadband PC card – functions the BlackBerry can do all by itself. The BlackBerry’s setup procedure – file an online form with our IT group and then answer a phone call – intimidates him enough that he’s never activated the BlackBerry, which languishes, on his desk, unused.
So I returned from vacation, and was pleased to find I’d been issued a Motorola V3m Razr. I know that this once-hot-now-not phone has become ubiquitous, but it is smaller than my old LG, and it will sync its address book via iSync to my Mac. [Verizon’s crippling of the phone’s calendar, and many of its other features, will be the subject of another post.] Just as I thanked the phone lady for the new phone, the department boss called me in to explain the many changes they had dreamed up for me during my time out of the office. I’ll spare you the details of this, for now at least, but I’ve sworn never to be out of the office for two weeks in a row again.
I left that unpleasant conversation, and decided that the best thing to do was retreat from the nonsense for a little while and set up the new phone. So I unpacked it, called Verizon and activated it, and then downloaded the client for the auto-backup service I use so I could restore my address book from the web. Just as I was completing this mindless set of tasks, the budget lady showed up and told me to give the Razr to her. I told her I’d just finished setting it up, and she explained that my new boss had decided I should have a BlackBerry after all. Okay, I replied, but please let me use this until that shows up. The budget lady agreed, and there the issue lay for a week until the BlackBerry arrived. I swapped the Razr for the BlackBerry, and then set to work figuring out the BlackBerry.
The last time I played around with a BlackBerry, all it did was corporate email on a black and white screen. With that background, I was totally unprepared for the 8703e that arrived. It had a bright color screen, it had amazing over-the-air synchronization with Outlook, it had a browser, and it had a native Gmail client. I cannot say I was in gadget heaven – I think I’d need a Palm OS Treo for that – but it was far more useful and versatile than I was expecting. I am getting ahead of myself. I got the phone side up and running, got nowhere following Verizon’s instructions about setting up email, I emailed my pal in IT who has been my go to person for these issues for twelve years (egads) and she explained the online form. I filled that out, and wham! The department boss saw my application for BlackBerry activation, and he denied it. WTF!
So of course I march into his office, and he tells me this issue was decided, no BlackBerry for me. To which I reply, my new boss, the one to whom you assigned me without any advice or consent, said I should have it. The boss says that’s news to him, and conversation over. The next day the boss is out of the office, and his administrative assistant says to me, “if you refile that request, I’ll approve it for you.” When the serpent speaks to you in the garden, note to self, don’t listen. Of course I refiled the form, and for the next week, in the words of George Thorogood, “it was so nice, Lord, it was lovey dovey.”
Fast forward to the Great BlackBerry Outage of 2007. I’m a week into figuring this new gizmo out and the service bellies up. It did so at night, and I have to say I never noticed anything was amiss. Nonetheless, it was the outage that was my downfall. The nice phone lady in the department saw the corporate IT message regarding the outage (issued twelve hours after the event; yeah, IT guys!) and forwarded that message to the BlackBerry users within the department. The department boss sees the message (he’s on her list since he has a BlackBerry, albeit unactivated), and then he sees me on the list. He calls phone lady, phone lady calls me, and that is the end of my first foray into the amazing world of mobile email and internet. Ironically, it took Verizon nearly a week to throw the kill switch on my gizmo, so I had a longer run with it than I was supposed to.
Still, all good things must come to an end. The BlackBerry went dark, and I reswapped it for the same Razr I’d used a few weeks earlier. When I was first told I didn’t merit a fancy gizmo, I wasn’t that annoyed, but now that I’ve been reminded of the fact three times… well, that rankles.
Now my quest is to figure out how to get this phone to do what Motorola meant it to do and what Verizon has hobbled. We’ll see how far I get. But I am determined to get my Google Calendar from iCal, via iSync, on to this phone. That is however the subject for another post, and this has gone on way too long. Good night.