Iʼm always trying to explain to my coworkers the importance of future-proofing what you publish.
Here we see a happy coffee sleeve touting Houston Methodist Hospitalʼs rank as the number 16 hospital in the nation. Except that it isnʼt.
Methodist is actually number 15. Sixteen was last year. But some middle manager thought it was a good idea to order fifty brazillion coffee sleeves flogging the #16 position, and now itʼs stuck under-bragging until they run out.
I know Southwest is trying to be folksy and humorous by having the status sign at the airport gate tell me I have plenty of time to read magazines. But I canʼt help but think, “No kidding. My flight has already been delayed six times tonight.”
When you leave the airside of Midway Airport, this is what greets you. On the surface, itʼs a nice welcome message from the Mayor of Chicago. Sweet.
The cynic in me immediately starts thinking itʼs a shameless promotion, and another way for her to get her face out there, like all those craptastic little towns scattered across America with signs reading “Welcome to Gripplebunk; Population 3,122; Cleetus McFasterberry, Mayor.”
But the more I think about it, thereʼs more to this sign. Itʼs Mayor Lightfoot taking pride in her city. More importantly, itʼs hizzonor putting her neck out there and telling people “If your visit sucks, thatʼs my fault. If the train brakes down, thatʼs my fault. If you get mugged on Wabash, thatʼs my fault.”
It's also saying, “If you have an awesome time at Oak Street Beach, thatʼs my fault, too!” But few people seem to associate good things with the people responsible for them. Itʼs much easier to assign blame when thing go wrong.
Lightfoot is far from my favorite Chicago mayor, especially among this new generation. I disagree with a bunch of the things sheʼs done. But at least sheʼs trying to do things. And in ways big and small, she doesnʼt run from controversy or responsibility. Which makes her an old-style Chicago mayor.
What you see above is the result is my inability to clearly communicate what I wanted. I wanted an iced coffee in a paper cup. The reason was simple: Mr. Wolfʼs cold drink cups are boring unadorned plastic, and lack the cool wolf logo. I wanted the dapper wolf on my drink.
The baristas were nice enough, but perhaps it was heat stroke that prevented me from explaining what I wanted.
In the end, we compromised on the pictured frankendrink: Iced coffee poured in a plastic cup, and the plastic cup jammed in a paper cup. Close enough. Still good.
I donʼt drink wine. I havenʼt been to New Jersey since before the internet. No, I didnʼt sign up for your mailing list. I do not want your spam, filthy lying spammers at Renault Winery Resort in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey.
If you listen to the chattering masses on the internet, you can be made to believe that the internet is everywhere, data is virtually free, and if youʼre not connected to everyone everywhere all day every day, you must be at room temperature.
As is often the case, reality and the internet are very different from one another.
The reality is that there are millions of people in America with no internet service. Not because of choice, or poverty, or lack of education; but because they are simply beyond the reach of the infrastructure.
People I know in the Silicon Valley bubble cannot fathom that there are places in America without broadband, let alone cell phone service. Yet right now, there are hundreds of thousands in Las Vegas who have no internet service. Even in New York City, there are over a million people who do not have internet access, and have no cellular service in their homes.
Itʼs especially hard for people from Europe to understand. They live in small countries where people are packed close together, so itʼs easy to provide cell phone service. They donʼt grasp how vast places like the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere are and that cell service is not universal around the entire globe.
I ran into a British couple in Monument Valley once who were complaining that their cell phone didnʼt work. They kept saying, “But we bought it in San Francisco!” as if repeating the phrase often enough would cause a cell tower and power lines to sprout from the cracked earth. They couldnʼt be made to understand that they shouldnʼt expect a phone to work in the desert a thousand miles from the Bay Area.
The photograph above is a great example of how many places in America lack basic communications infrastructure (let alone running water and electricity). Itʼs a special pay phone in the town of Shoshone, California. The same California that gave us so much of the high-tech world in which we live also cannot connect all of its towns and cities.
There is no cell service in Shoshone. There is only dialup internet service in Shoshone. There are only a couple of radio signals that reach Shoshone. So the way many people communicate with the outside world is via this payphone.
Itʼs an ordinary payphone that also has special numbers people can dial to connect to essential, and some seemingly sponsored, services for free.
*10: Chase Bank
*12: Prayer line
*13: Payday loans
*14: Job search help
*15: Credit cards
*17: Wells Fargo Bank
*19: Social Security
Local calls are currently 50¢, and anywhere else on the planet is $1.00 for two minutes. Which seems pretty reasonable to me, since I remember when calling my high school friends could cost an inflation-adjusted $3.50 for two minutes, and they were only a few miles away.