My wife, Wonder Woman, and I have been married for over four years now. When we registered for bedding at Bed Bath and Beyond in that spring of ’05, neither of us envisioned the bi-yearly pilgramge we would be making to the household goods temple to exchange our old, used duvet covers and bedding for brand spanking new sets every two years (that’s gramatically correct then to call this “bi-annual,” right?). Yet there we were again, the summer of ’09, four weeks before our move to Israel, holding a garbage bag full of used bedding and a duvet cover ready for an upgrade.
Our sales clerk, Beth (not her real name), was pleasant, helpful, and friendly (I find this true of most B3 workers, must be something in the soap). Anyway, I approached with a smile, taking care to read her name tag and doing my best Dale Carnegie (my favorite book of the minute is How to Win Friends and Influence People) said, “hello Beth. How are you today?” (Carnegie says, and my experience confirms, that a person’s name is one of their favorite words). It worked; the bond between me and Beth had been established. I could read in her face that she liked us and wanted to help, and not just because of her professional duty. She smiled at our two kids (6 months and 2 years old). “We got these sheets for a gift,” I said, “but they won’t fit our new beds.” This was true, because the beds in Israel are very small, and these sheets would not fit on them.
“Sure thing,” Beth said unbagging the bedding from the garbage bag. She went to the computer to find our sheets in the system. “You don’t have any of the packaging?” she asked apologetically. We did not, but Wonder Woman and her super powered memory recalled that they were from “the Savannah Collection” or something like that. Beth tried the computer again, but came up empty. Eventually a manager came over and tried to help, but he could not find it without an item code or some other distinguishing factor (apparently B3 had changed distributors, etc.). “I’m sorry,” he said, but I can’t do anything without that code.”
Wonder Woman looked defeated, but I had an idea. You see after many months of hinting and pleading and mentioning, she had caved and agreed to us getting a pair of iPhones. It was this tool that would help us keep tradition and swap our bedding. “Let me do some ‘research’ while we shop,” I said. And with that we began to pick up the various other items walking around the large store. I went straight to Google, still the search engine of choice. Entering the terms “Savannah + bedding + 2005” I got thousands of text results and started to click through. This soon proved arduous as we moved from picking up shower hooks to walking past the bedding isles. Especially on the 3G connection, links were slow loading and my search seemed to be less than optimal.
Then it hit me: why sift through terms, words and websites? I switched to an image search for the same terms (we were looking for a pattern right?). The thumbnails that loaded didn’t really match b/c it seems “Savannah” is a popular term for bedding. By adding “floral pattern” the exact bedding came up in the next set of thumbs as the fifth result. “I found it,” I said.
“What!” Wonder Woman couldn’t believe it. “Let me see,” she said. I showed her the thumbnail. “That’s it!” she said, “how did you do that?”
“Because I’m awesome,” I said doing my best impression of McLovin’ from Super Bad. At the bottom of the screen I found an item code, and it was with this information that we went to the front desk. Beth was happy that we were able to find the code and with those numbers issued us store credit for over $300. Wonder Woman found less expensive, new sheets and we all walked away happy.
The moral of this story, or rather, the reason it is being told in a technology blog is the turn around in Wonder Woman’s attitude at seeing the iPhone in action, or if you want to put it more broadly: mobile tech in action. For a long time we used crappy $10 Go Phones after our Motorolla Razors broke for the second time. Refusing upgrades and contract extensions, we slogged it out with these simple devices for almost 2-years. When Apple dropped the price of the 3G with the release of 3GS, I found an “in” to convince her on the benefits of getting these phones. Seeing a practical problem that she cared about solved with the device she said, “I’m glad we got you that iPhone.” It was like music to my ears.
PS – One caveat to other over enthusiastic husbands out there. It isn’t all new bed sheets and roses with the iPhone. There is an addictiveness to having that much mobile computing power at your fingertips. Still learning to balance effectiveness against affection by paying the appropriate amount of attention to Wonder Woman and the kids (especially when the lure to blog on the go hits me; in fact over 3/4 of this post was written on the iPhone).