Removing the Leash

I did something today that I have been dreaming of doing for two years.  I gave back my Blackberry.

I know there are people who love their Blackberry devices.  They are handy little things.  But, in my personal experience, there is a level of expectation people have if you have one.  Their expectation is that you are always available to them.   It matters not how they try to reach you (phone or email), you should respond instantly.  This little device allows them to bypass everything…..after hours procedures for getting help, going to the correct person during business hours, etc.   And, they do it in the name of “you having a Blackberry”.
When I was the last IT manager standing a 18 months ago, I wanted to chuck that fucking device against the wall.  There were many MANY times when I had to set it down and walk away.  Imagine, if you will, taking a much needed mental health day at work, but being expected to carry the damn thing and answer issues all day.  Not much of a mental health day, huh? And, I won’t tell you the number of vacations that damn thing has ruined because of a message I have gotten. 
A convenience device turns into a leash back to the company.  At anytime, someone can yank you back to it.  And, they can do it without a second thought.  Why? Because the company gave you the Blackberry, you had better be using it.  One executive has gone on record many times saying that Blackberry numbers should be published for everyone regardless of position in the company.  Statements like these make IT people go crazy.   After hours support, for us, is reserved for business critical issues.  Most of the issues reported after hours are not business critical.  Giving out cell phone numbers to IT people means anyone can get around the screening process.
The CIO who I work for does not have a company Blackberry. She refuses a company cell phone as well.  She has publicly stated she refuses to have her cell phone activities exposed internally – and she refuses to be a slave to messages sent to the Blackberry.   If it is that urgent, people can call.  Calling mean it is urgent….emails do not.  I love boundaries.  She has been here almost a year, and no one has forced her to get one yet nor will they.
Last week, a couple of things came together that made this event possible.  The first and most important was a request that someone internally get a Blackberry.  Our new plan at work has an early termination fee, so giving back my Blackberry would be easier if it were going to someone right away.  The second thing – my personal phone contract is pretty much up.  I say pretty much because my phone has been having issues, so up or not, the phone needed to get replaced.  The third thing that came together was a random statement made by the CIO – I guess taking away Blackberry devices as a cost savings measure has been discussed.  In talking with her later, she gave her blessing to get rid of it.
Over the weekend, I got my iPhone.  After playing with Garbanzo’s the last few months, I decided I liked the single device.   No more carrying around my iPod and cell phone.  No more worrying about needing a wireless connection so that I can look something up when I am away from home.  I checked over the weekend, and I can actually get to my work email if I need to….but only if I need to.

One thing we did refrain from doing was passing my old cell phone number to the person my Blackberry is going to.  We decided that was too evil.  Given who the phone will be going to, there is a level of humor and/or irony….but it was still too evil.  Damn that right thing!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    Ummm … Emmy? I’m not so sure that giving up your Blackberry for an iPhone counts, but it’s your lie … *wink*

  2. Hubman says:

    Damn, Dana beat me to my comment! Arghh…

  3. Emmy says:

    Ahh….what appears to be a minor distinction is a very important one. This is my PERSONAL phone. The company is not paying the bill; I am. You would be very surprised how this changes the mentality of those around you. And, because it is my PERSONAL phone, no one gets the number at work unless I deem them worthy. I

    Also, blackberries use “push” technology meaning you get the email as it comes. With my iPhone, I check if I want to check. It doesn’t come to me unless I go ‘pull’ It. Again, minor distinction, but an very important one.

    While cell phones in general are leashes regardless of if they are personal, business, blackberry, or iPhone, this leash can only be used if I give it out. And, I have no obligation like I did with the blackberry to respond to the tugging.

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