While stuck in the airport recently, I was surrounded in the waiting area by young investment bankers trying to log on and find a wireless connection. There was desperation in their clicking on the keyboard; there was panic in the constant rejections from the Starbucks that were not in the neighborhood; there was elation when someone figured it out and could access their email. Others were pounding away at their Blackberry and scrolling and peeking. As I listened to the follow-on chatter of the messages, the talk was not about the deals they were doing. They were just checking to see what was in their in-box, hoping for surprises and good news. There was nothing in the queue that couldn’t wait but they had to check. They were addicted.
The traffic never seems to change, it never gets better. We are all in our cars too much and the car has become the workplace that serves us between home and the cubicle. It is not the place to listen to old time rock and roll. It is a new place to work. The car is the place we reserve for returned calls or for the calls we couldn’t make during the day. While I was driving along today a BMW convertible passed me going 80MPH. The convertible top was down and driver was on the phone. I can only imagine what that connection was like. Next time you are stuck in traffic take a look around, you will see people on their phones, sending messages on their blackberries, taking notes to themselves, reading the Wall Street Journal and yelling at someone who probably missed a deadline. But none of this is news to anyone who has been on the highway lately. What is news, and it is not good, is that the car has also become the company cafeteria.
The piece on the Laws of Convergence struck a chord. A convergence chord. Some apply to technology. Two of the favorites are: The cursor will always block the spot on the computer screen that you need to see. Call waiting will always happen when you are already on the phone. Sometimes call waiting will pile on to itself. And in the point of purchase domain: The cashier will always need to change the tape in the register when it’s your turn to pay. The fewer the items, the greater the likelihood. But the Laws of Convergence can also be the source of the most stress in the workplace. I was the victim of the Laws just last week and it was a triple header at least. There was an important meeting that I needed to attend but I was running late. It was a meeting that mattered, I didn’t want to be late. So of course, I was stuck in traffic. And of course, the gas needle on my car told me I might have enough to make it to the meeting or not. And of course, the entire time I had to go to the bathroom. And of course, the battery on my cell phone had died so I couldn’t call ahead to say I would be late. One just built on the other, the convergence of the issues after a while made me just give up and stop, get gas, go to the bathroom and apologize when I arrived late blaming it on the traffic. Late, traffic, no gas, bathroom, cell phone batteries it’s real convergence. We can’t look at convergence as good or bad, like gravity, it is just one of the laws that governs our universe.