Hail to the Geek

We’ve had a lot of vis­i­tors in the build­ing at work. The project we’re work­ing on is near­ing a phase where some of it (actu­al­ly a tip of the prover­bial ice­berg) is get­ting shown to the cus­tomer. This means that there are a lot of peo­ple com­ing and going, many vis­i­tor pass­es being passed out (Ter­ry at the front desk says that they are actu­al­ly begin­ning to run out of them), and the cafe­te­ria is run­ning out of most items at around 12:15. Not that I’m a big fan of the cafe­te­ria, but usu­al­ly the choice that they run out of first is the most edi­ble one. The oth­er day I took a bite of what they called a ‘Philly Cheese Steak’ and could­n’t bear to take anoth­er, because it was so awful (bits of burned scraps from the grill and who knows what else seemed to be stick­ing to it).

There has been one oth­er change, a sub­tle one: It’s the front door, or rather the door to the first floor offices right from the lob­by. It’s not so much the door, as what the door does when you swipe your ID card on it. Up until this week, when you swiped your card, it opened the lock with a short click, and also played a short a record­ing of a riff on a vibra­phone, like an announce­ment that some­one was com­ing in. It was a curi­ous fea­ture that I’d nev­er seen on a door, but the clos­est thing I can say it was like, was the ‘door­bell’ on The Jet­sons, that some­times did­n’t so much act as a door­bell, but a sort of announce­ment as the guest or fam­i­ly mem­ber appeared on that ever-present mov­ing side­walk (not the one where George gets stuck on shout­ing ‘Jane, Stop this Crazy thing!’ with Astro and the cat look­ing on at the end, but then if you’re with me so far, you know that already.)

I don’t know why the sound is gone, and haven’t asked. Maybe so many peo­ple were com­ing and going that the tune was dis­rupt­ing meet­ings (there is a futur­is­tic semi-cir­cu­lar meet­ing room near that door, before the main part of the floor). Per­haps they will rein­state the entry-tune after the rash of vis­i­tors is over.

It did, how­ev­er, get me to think­ing: What if the door played a dif­fer­ent tune depend­ing on the per­son whose ID card was swiped on it. If a big­wig exec­u­tive was enter­ing, it could play ‘Hail to the Chief’, or some­one shout­ing: ‘Cap­tain on the Bridge!’. It could work like those but­lers in the movies, announc­ing guests as they arrive at some fan­cy par­ty: “The Duke and Duchess of Freedonia!”.

If I had my choice as to what that door would play when I came in each morn­ing, I think I’d want it to play some­thing match­ing my mood. If I was a good mood, I’d have it play some­thing like the crowd of peo­ple shout­ing “Norm!” (from Cheers), or that round of applause that came when Kramer would enter Jer­ry’s door in Sein­feld. (Why did they start doing that any­way?). If I was in a bad mood, I think the best choice would be the March of Darth Vad­er (You know, dum dum dum — dum di dum, dum di dum… I’m not going to both­er with nota­tion or even an audio excerpt.)

In a way, the entrance of some­one could be just like an exten­sion of ring­tones. I recent­ly found out that peo­ple spend $5 bil­lion a year on ring­tones. (To quote David Pogue: What the?) If we could spend part of our pay­cheques on hav­ing the right entrance music when we enter our work­place, would we?

Update: A Design­er came up with a more low-tech solu­tion, but it requires some skill on the part of the per­son knock­ing the door. 

2 Replies to “Hail to the Geek”

  1. If I had my choice as to what that door would play when I came in each morn­ing, I think I’d want it to play some­thing match­ing my mood.

    Yes, pres­ence is no longer just about whether we’re in or not. We want rich pres­ence. Twit­ter p0sts, Face­book sta­tus, Live Mes­sen­ger sta­tus, and now a card read­er and a lit­tle key­board out­side the door so we can select how we want to be intro­duced to the peo­ple on the oth­er side of the door…

  2. Of course, Jan. It’s all about me me, me, me, me. Heav­en for­bid some­one should come to the office (or be sit­ting there, unaware) with­out know­ing my status/mood/state of affairs/likelihood of fly­ing off the han­dle, etc.

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