When you sit down on the carpet at the airport you can see just how dirty it is. I’m sure they clean it every day and by this time every day it’s disgustingly filthy again. I find myself communing with the crumbs and stains and leaves and pebbles because there are no chairs left in the terminal and I decided I’d rather risk being dirty than continue standing up.
I was rebelling against my technology a bit this morning; as much as I ever do, anyway. After a 2-day training last week on the principles of Scrum methodology and Agile Development, I’m considering managing one of my Dev teams with paper notecards, replacing – or perhaps just augmenting – our current Google Docs tracking system. I think the tactile satisfaction of cards may be a valuable incremental improvement in our Dev process, but it seems unnatural to take a step backward in time to something so analog, that does nothing to expand flexibility, ensure data retention or transcend geography. But several things about the approach appeal to me, and for lack of a touchscreen wall ala Minority Report I think paper may have to do.
At the same time, I was on an hour-long phone call using my iPhone and those iconic white headphones which, for the sets that shipped with the iPhone4, include a microphone and are a pretty capable (albeit wired) telephone headset. Four different times people tried to interrupt me, thinking I was just listening to music and was available to talk. As the same device, same headphones and same vacant stare into my computer monitor that indicate I’m on the phone are shared by other tasks, how is the observer supposed to assume any context of availability? Because I use the device for so many things from the very trivial to the mission-critical I feel like I need something more indicative. Perhaps a sign around my neck that says “The doctor is in” / “The doctor is REAL in.”
Behind me just now an incessant buzzing sound that’s been part of the ambient noise of the airport increased suddenly in volume, as the owner of the rogue electric razor triggered inside it’s jostling suitcase discovered the culprit and produced the razor to deactivate it, snapping me back to my present situation. My flight to Oakland was cancelled about 40 minutes ago, and I have never seen a line form so fast as the one that took shape at the ticket counter milliseconds after the cancellation announcement. I was not in that line, as I learned from my Dad – an experienced and astute traveler – that I can almost always fare better in these situations by choosing an alternate route to airline customer service. Standing at the flight status board, iPhone to my ear and iPad in my hand open to the TripIt app containing my detailed itinerary, I was rebooked on the flight to San Jose departing 50 minutes later and my rental car reservations adjusted to a San Jose pickup before the tenth Oakland passenger had been rebooked on tonight’s next Oakland flight. I had re-visited the printer kiosk and held my updated boarding pass before the 20th Oakland passenger knew how they would get out of Seatac tonight.
Flight 328 to San Jose has begun pre-boarding and there is still a significant group of unhappy faces over at the Oakland desk, making me thankful for the bagful of wifi-enabled devices I’ll be stowing in an overhead bin and leading me to reconsider whether I really want to stake the future of my products and business on a stack of paper notecards.