Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vertu-ally Wealth Three

(Part Three!)

Between the jet lag, the caffeine withdrawal, and the light sparkling off of the $20,000 platinum-plated phone, I am feeling a bit woozy. Not being entirely certain how to handle this device, I hold the phone as I once saw an old lady do with produce in a grocery store - scrutinizing the produce to find the ONE tomato without any blemishes.

Caroline: "Where would the gem be placed?"

Hideo: "!" I point pretty much at random.

Caroline: "Interesting - we have not had anyone wanting to customize the...screen...before."

Hideo: "(realizing error) No, I meant that this is a beautiful screen. Minimal glare. Much like the face of a Breitling - functional yet attractive. But I digress. Sylvia would like to use her own 1.03 carat, purple Alexandrite on the face plate here."

Caroline: "A 1.03 carat gem, here?"

Caroline's tone is incredulous. It was as though I mentioned that I had deep-fried arachnids for lunch, and found them crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside (this is actually a dish in rural Cambodia, apparently. It was on the Discover channel. That's where I got the gooey quote.)

Hideo: "Ha ha. I must apologize for joking with you. Having held the device in my hand, it is quite apparent that a gem of that size would detract from the refined lines of this device. In fact, that would be garish...rude even. Sylvia is not fixated on this particular 1.03 carat gem, but she does want an Alexandrite to be part of the overall look. Perhaps you can suggest some designs?" (Phew!)

Caroline: "Oh but of course! We'll try to arrange some designs from our London design department by the time Sylvia arrives on her… next Singapore visit (gives Hideo conspiring look)."

Hideo: "(returns look of deep conspiracy) Remember, you didn't hear it from me!"

By this time, I had already spent close to one hour in this office, and I wanted to leave. But I also wanted the coffee she poured for me earlier. I had not reached for it, fearing that I would spill it onto the $20,000 phones and thus be their proud owners. I glanced forlornly at the coffee cup, but was frozen in indecision.

Catching my expression, Caroline hastily exclaims, "Oh Hideo, my deepest apologies. Your drink has gotten cold! I will get another sent out immediately!" With that, Caroline pressed a hidden button under her desk. 45 seconds later, a black-clad man appeared with my fresh cup. Although I longed to slug it down, I merely took one small sip. I suddenly had a vision of being held hostage here until the enigmatic Ms. Sylvia ponied up a check for this communication device. I had to get out of here!

Hideo: "Oh my! I must beg your pardon. My next meeting at the Capitol Tower (the only address outside the hotel that I know) beckons"

Caroline presses another secret button under her desk and Samantha and an older black-clad man appear at the door. I feel nervous for a moment, but they all shake my hand enthusiastically and give me their business cards.

"We look forward to seeing you again soon! Please give our regards to Ms. Sylvia! We can meet anytime - just let us know her schedule and we will accommodate!"

[To be continued in person by Ms. Sylvia]

Vertu-ally Wealthy Too

(Memoirs Part Two!)

At last. One on one with Caroline, the saleswoman of the rich and famous.

Caroline: "Mr. Hideo, please let us know how we can help Ms. Sylvia. Would you like some coffee?"

Hideo: "Of course. Now where to begin...?" I smile, then put on a look of mild concentration. (coffee? of course! ....crap lost train of thought. She's good. Already disarmed me with my weakness)

Caroline: "Ms. Sylvia sounds like a busy woman. As her secretar..."

Hideo: "I prefer 'Administrative Assistant'" (

Caroline: "My apologies. As Ms. Sylvia's Administrative Assistant, you must be even busier. Does Ms. Sylvia often shop in California where she lives? Because we could arrange a local appointment in Beverly Hills as well?"

Hideo: "Well the term 'lives' is somewhat misleading. It would be accurate to say she legally resides there, but it would be more accurate to say Ms.Sylvia lives in an airplane. At any given time, there's an equally likely chance of finding her in London's Cannon Street, Tokyo's Marunouchi, or right here in Singapore. In fact...well, I probably shouldn't mention this, as Ms. Syliva loathes given her itinerary away too much in advance..."

(Captain! the limitor on the BS Engine is no longer in our control! Abandon ship!)

Caroline's ears perk up, and she is eagerly leaning forward. Just then the coffee arrives. It is a rich smelling concoction, obviously far superior to the mud served in the breakroom at work. The lines of the black china seems to blend seamlessly to the black lacquered desktop.

Hideo: "...hmmm, why not. Ms. Syliva intends to be in Singapore in late September. Perhaps she will request that I schedule time for her to visit your fine boutique personally? But first, let us discuss the customization questions that Ms. Sylvia has." (I think I just gave off too much this-person-may-buy pheromones, because Caroline is practically convulsing with the effects of the internal battle between maintaining a sophisticated, cool air and making her kill-sales-pitch. To her credit, this struggle lasts but a split second, and she is back to her polite yet so-very-Euro-cool manner.)

Editor's note: at the time of this meeting, Sylvia and Hideo lacked an important piece of information: Vertu has sold only one phone.

Caroline: "Ms. Sylvia ark mentioned something about customization of our communication devices?"

Hideo: "Yes. I'm sure I don't need to tell *you* that many people are very attached to their birthstones. Ms. Sylvia is the same way with hers - Alexandrite."

Caroline: "Ah, a beautiful gem. I am especially fond of the Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye"

Hideo: "Ms. Sylvia has mentioned that as well. But she was particularly interested in seeing if she could fit an Alexandrite gem that she has in her possession." (A What's Eye??????)

Caroline: "Very interesting. Here are three working models of the Vertu devices. Where would she be interested in placing them?"

Hideo: "May I?" (holy cow! the $20,000 phone! Three of 'em RIGHT HERE! I can buy a Lexus with these phones!!! Let's see, wearing wingtips. Despite Tom Cruise's example in "The Client", I found that it's impossible to run in dress shoes. Darn.)

Caroline: "Why certainly. Notice the attention to detail. The tactile sensation of the ruby-geared keys. And the sleek design by Kris Bostloft. You may have noticed his work with light and shadows being displayed on the LCDs."

Hideo: "...Interesting. This is exactly as my employer has expected the device to be." (She expected it to be expensive. Hmmm, this phone was designed by the nostril-cam video guy? Come to think of it, I CAN check my nose hair on the shiny platinum surface. Wait - better pluck that one when I get a chance to duck into the restroom...!)

I spend a couple more seconds scrutinizing the phone from every angle. I have a look of intense scrutiny on my face. I usually get that when there's a strong glare flashing into my eyes. Caroline remains silent, taking in my obvious appreciation of her mobile artwork.

[once again, to be continued]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Vertu-ally wealthy

A work buddy of mine is making a trip down to Singapore. I haven't been in almost 4 years, but I thought I'd offer up some advice on what to do when one finds one's self on the equator. So I dug up notes from 2002 wherein I ventured to a store that sells $5000 cellphones. (Thanks to Syl for keeping my ramblings in archive!)

=======insert Wayne's World Flashback music here=====

lightness. darkness. a long-shot of a mountain range. an extreme close-up of what could be a man's nostril. These images softly assail me from the LCD panels hanging from the ceiling. I look around - the showroom, if it can be called that, screams neuvo-Europa, but in a subdued kind of way. It's actually a bit schizophrenic. Welcome to the Paragon, Home of Vertu, I say to myself. I feel pretty darn uncomfortable, but I steel myself, knowing that what I am about to do is for the good of mankind.

rewind 15 minutes. I'm in the hotel, changing from the dress shirt I was wearing all day into a freshly pressed shirt I packed just for the occasion. The shirt is starched so sharp, I can cut vegetables with my collar. I look in the mirror, and practice my aloof "yes, yes, I've seen it before. If my employer didn't insist on it, I wouldn't even be here" expression. Snicker. Gotta watch that.

Off to present. My shirt is already damp from the Enterprise-class humidity (that's 99.999% for the marketing-to-English translation) and no longer looks sharp. I'd be lucky to chop tofu with my collar now. My aloof, worldly expression has transformed itself into one of bewilderment and confusion. This is one weird store. The display pedestals which showcase the phone, nay, communication devices, suggest icy pillars reaching to the heavens (in case the heavens wanted to order out for a flood or tornado, I suppose). These displays, obviously, do not add to my comfort level.

"Weeeelcome Mr. Hideo!" sings Samantha, a sales/marketing manager at Vertu. She is dressed in black, no doubt to match the decor of the showroom.

"Hello, you must be Samantha."

"Yeeees! We were SOooo looking forward to meeting you. Please, this way," she purred, as she lead me to one of three back offices.

There, in the clean and minimalist dark-coloured office, sat Caroline, the assistant Boutique Manager (also dressed in black, by the way).

"This is Caroline, she will be attempting to understand Ms. Sylvia's needs and desires."

(Uh..that's an awful lotta prying. Maybe you should ask Sylvia these things directly!)

"But of course," I reply nonchalantly.

Samantha then graciously slides out, leaving me alone with the ever-smiling Caroline....

to be continued!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Viral Marketing

ok, so maybe it's more like "Bacterial Marketing."

The building clean-up crew will probably take these down the next time they come thru here. Too bad it will have to come down so quickly. Two weeks is such a short time...!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Five Second Rule

Catering overflows. That's when somebody calls a lunch meeting for 8, but six of those end up dialing in. Which of course, means leftover food being sent to the breakroom for the Cube hyenas and Office vultures to pick at. Hey you need those scavengers. Didn't you see the Lion King? Circle of Life and all. Yeah that's right. Now put down that roast beef, twinkie; I saw it first.

At any rate, there was a full fruit plate in the breakroom today. Almost totally untouched, brimming with melons, berries, pinepple, and...cream cheese (guess they ate all the bagels). I grabbed a paper plate and plastic fork, and started munching. There were a number of folks that filed thru, and I was left with a burning question. Why is it that people will use a plate and fork unless they're "just going to take one piece" -- in which case they feel free to use their fingers? Maybe it's like the old 5 second rule: if you drop food on the floor, you're safe if you pick it up and eat it within 5 seconds; the germs dont react fast enough and don't have time to jump from the floor to the food morsel.

I pondered the delicious thought of eating something that's been touched by ten unwashed hands. Then I shrugged and kept munching.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hints and Tips

I realize now that in our connected Human Network world, expert advice is available at every water cooler. Office pundits, some of whom have actually seen live marathon events first-hand, have been offering me a veritable treasure trove of useful advice:

-You can cram for a race. Just run 52.6 miles the night before. In a crunch, you can always just run to the start line.

-Alternate between wearing your right sneaker and your left. It wears out more evenly.

-Training is all about acclimating your body to the rigours of running the distance. So apply hot irons to your legs every other day and get dragged behind a slow-moving automobile.

-Train with music; it drowns out distractions like car horns.

-Best part of running long distances is stopping. So by standing there with that dumb look on your face, you're half way there.

Thankfully, there are also pros like Linda and Tom to keep me on the straight and narrow.

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