It’s been 3 days. I haven’t fallen in love yet. I don’t think it’s going to happen. No, I have definitely not fallen in love with this new phone.
I thought this could be the one. But no.
A female roommate from college once told me, “Men learn to like the women they fall in love with. Women learn to love the men they like.”
The point is, men tend to fall in love right away. They know very soon. I’m a man. I know instantly that I will never develop deep feelings for the technology in my hand.
There’s no possibility that I am going to turn into someone like Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the movie Her. I can already tell that, unlike the character in that movie, at no point will I get sexual gratification from this new device – not even if I suddenly discover the Scarlett Johansson voiceover app.
While I stare coldly at the phone in my hand a text arrives:
It’s my friend Amy. She just started a job at a hip, small software firm. She had previously been at the same company for 16 years before she took this job. This new job is basically her second job since she left college.
I decide to stop by her new office. The office is in an old house downtown where 60-year-old dilapidated houses rent for $350 per square foot. It’s part of hip-Austin, which in this neighborhood is only slightly indistinguishable from dilapidated Austin.
As I walk up to the front door of the office I notice a couple of people sitting in rocking chairs, typing on their laptops. Walking in through the front door, the first thing I see is a huge monitor in the living room (their lobby). It’s a metrics dashboard of some sort showing scrum and defect statistics. The display fades to the image of another app. The other app shows a graph of beer consumption in the office over the last month, with a forecast of when the beer will run out.
On the other side of the living room… er, lobby… I notice that there is an antique refrigerator. The refrigerator has been retrofit with a spigot to pour beer. They’ve converted the refrigerator into one huge keg.
I think to myself, “This sure is a lot more comfortable than my office at the corporate cube farm.”
I find Amy in the next room. We drive a few blocks to a trendy downtown French restaurant called Arro. We sit at the bar, and order a couple of gin drinks.
I begin our conversation with, “I want your advice.”
I tell her about me giving notice at work. It’s not yet my last day, and I have time to reverse my decision about leaving. I’ve been given the option to take a leave of absence. She responds by telling me about her new job. She tells me about how refreshing it is to work with smart people. She talks about how they don’t get hung up on egos. They just focus on solutions not problems.
I work with smart people. I work with people with a low ego-quotient. But jeez, it sure does seem like we talk a lot more about our problems than about solutions. I guess it’s natural. We’re dealing with complex decisions that will very likely have lasting effects on our company.
The waitress delivers our drinks. They’re strong. They’re good. They go down easy.
I continue to tell Amy that although I feel engaged at work because it is challenging, that it can be a little tiring. I tell her that I feel like I am building certain muscles. I’m learning a lot about negotiating complex technology roadmaps with diverse stakeholders, blah, blah, blah.
She’s bored. She’s heard the story before.
She turns to me, grabs my face, and looks into my eyes, “You can only learn so much from studying failure.”
It strikes me as a profound statement. In so many ways, I need to hear this message. Right now.
An old adage comes to mind, “What you resist persists.”
A lot of clarity on that idea came to me during a meditation retreat last month. It reminded me of a fundamental tenet of metaphysics: where the focus goes, the energy flows.
The waitress interrupts to ask us what we think of the drinks.
Me (gin kicking in): “These are awesome freaking cocktails!”
Amy (nodding head): “Yeah, I really like this one. It’s fruity, but not too sweet.”
Waitress (joyous): “I know! It’s one of my favorites now.”
The waitress and Amy have achieved some kind of instant rapport over this cocktail — the drink’s name escapes me, something a tad silly and hipster-trendy. They are smiling lovingly at each other. The waitress continues, “It’s pink, strong, and delicious.”, and cocks an eyebrow at me for confirmation.
I smile. “Yeah….” — my mind is looking for something clever to say — “… that’s how we describe Amy! Pink. Strong. Delicious.”
I wonder whether I sound foolish. I wonder if this gin is stronger than I realize. No worries. Instant laughter. Rapport intact. I order another drink.
Amy and I move off the topic of work and start discussing this week’s geekly hot topics…
“Oh yeah, Heartbleed,” one of us mentions, “What the hell is that all about?” Without much to offer on that subject, the Heartbleed conversation dies quickly. Our mood is far too giddy to start talking about the imminent collapse of the internet.
We go back to talking about job, and job search, and job philosophy. Amy is on a roll. We are getting happier and happier, laughing louder and louder, and she starts sounding wiser and wiser.
Amy’s boyfriend is a venture capitalist. She quotes one of his favorite sayings, “If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money.”
“That’s brilliant,” I say. I wonder to myself whether this is only my second drink. But maybe these are gems that I should be remembering.
I get the bright idea that I will record some of these thoughts into my new phone. I discovered that it has a dictaphone function. Sitting at the table in the bar, I try to record something. I ask Siri to record a note. I wait for the transcription.
apScum ouiczxh I hamster nipple
Great – it captured Amy shouting “hamster nipple” into the phone, and nothing else. There’s too much background noise in the bar. I’ll try again later.
Bed time. I remember the ideas I want to record into my new phone, which I believe is capable of transcribing what I say into a note. First step? Open the Notes app. Ah hah, an icon for a microphone. No mistaking that. Perfect. I press it. Nothing. I press it again.
I fiddle, I faddle. Eventually I am cursing at my phone, “What the hell?! Why does this app even have this icon? Argh!”
I put the phone on the nightstand, face down. I’m done with it…for today. It will be the first thing I hear tomorrow, though, when its alarm goes off. As I close my eyes I soften into a moment of gratefulness knowing that I can depend on the darn thing to sound me awake in the morning.
Going into half sleep, I think about how my new phone is better than the old phone, but I won’t grow attached. I do like it, but it’s not pink, it’s not strong, and it’s not delicious. Fortunately, it never will be.