Monday, April 30, 2012


I upgraded to a smartphone recently, and can’t quite recall if I mentioned it around here or not. I suspect not, because the circumstances were a bit of a letdown. My wife had decided that the two of us should upgrade our respective cellphones, and we went to the Verizon store in town, and found out when they looked up our account that I was long overdue for the hardware upgrade, whereas my wife is not technically due until August. So while she had been looking forward to getting a new smartphone and I was going along with no real compulsion of my own, we ended up leaving the store with only one smartphone, for me. It would have been an exorbitant amount of money to upgrade my wife ahead of schedule, so we simply marked our calendar with her eligibility date and vowed to return as soon as said moment arrived.

I’m just not much of an early adopter gadgethead, but don’t get me wrong, the new smartphone is really nice and I’ve been enjoying it. But the additional irony is this: I’ve had it for two or three weeks, and yet as of today I am not allowed to have my cell phone turned on at work. I can have the device with me, as long as it’s completely powered down. New policy, continuously in effect from here until forevermore, no exceptions. So my smartphone is presently taking up space in the bottom of my work bag.

The new policy is another ramification of the construction they’ve been doing in our office to make this an up-to-code secure workspace which would allow us to have terminals that connect to the classified DoD network right at our desks, instead of having to go downstairs to a vaguely mausoleum-like chamber with no windows and a perpetually musty chill in the air. So of course in theory I like this plan. But apparently the official policy is that no one is allowed to have transmission-capable devices inside a secure workspace, and that includes cell phones which are powered on. I understand the anti-espionage implications, and I suppose they have to draw the line somewhere, even if the demarcation they’ve chose seems a bit excessive. But ours not to reason why and all that. Really it just means that my wife and my kids’ daycare need to have my desk’s landline number as the main method for reaching me, and I won’t be able to get texts throughout the day. It’s more annoying that anything, and certainly doesn’t have me so outraged that I’m considering any radical employment moves.

And it could be worse, I suppose. There were some rampant rumors last week about how even powered-down cellphones were going to be verboten, and anyone who accidentally carried their phone all the way to the suite door would just have to leave it right there in the hallway. I wasn’t overly perturbed about being forgetful, but I did wonder where else I could leave my phone. Leaving it in my car would cut me off for not just the workday but the time I was on the VRE, and there have been times in the afternoon where inclement weather delays have prompted me to call my wife to work out an alternate plan for picking up the children from daycare, plus on one occasion in the morning the entire train was offloaded halfway down the route due to non-functioning signals which had been stripped of their wires by copper thieves overnight, and I called my beloved to kindly fetch me from the wilderness of Burke. At least if my phone is with me but turned off then if I urgently need to make a phone call I can always carry it out of the building, power up, and dial someone from the sidewalk. The thought of being denied even that recourse seemed a little closer to outrageous. But, as it all turns out, those were wildly unsubstantiated bits of gossip. So things are weird, but not that weird. Not yet, anyway, you never really know what the next week is going to bring.

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