Maybe I should put in an application over at Wegmans or Starbucks. Both of them are on the latest Fortune magazine list of 100 best companies to work for. And I can tell you, without even looking at the entire list, that U.S. 1 isn’t on it.
This can be a tough place to work. There’s the ocean of competition that keeps both profits and wages low. There’s the incessant deadlines. There are the people who desperately want us to write about them when we don’t want to write about them. And there are others we desperately want to write about who desperately do not wantd us to write about them. And there is the boss who doesn’t always know what he wants, changes his mind frequently, and then tries to sell this to the staff as a virtue.
On top of all this there is a demanding public. Around here we get criticized not only for what we write but how we run the business. I opened the doors to this line of criticism in a column printed in the December 10 issue. The column evaluated the impact of the California recall election and wondered if that state’s rejection of its former governor was a harbinger of increasing impatience with other institutions, such as business.
In the column I created a report card for our business, and gave us some informal grades. We got a high grade, for example, on our accessibility to the public. Call our number and you get a human being, not a machine. Ask to speak to the owner and chances are you will be put right through.
In another area, being accessible through electronic communication, I gave us a lower grade: We still have challenges in handling the myriad forms of graphic images descending upon us, and we can be downright rude in rejecting E-mail attachments from strangers (given the volume of several hundred pieces of E-mail a day, we think we should be excused).
But this is a tough place to work, as I said. Just prior to the publication of that column we heard from an old friend in Trenton, a man who more than once has taken us to task for not keeping our various news boxes in the capital city fully stocked. This time he asked to speak to the owner, but was not put through: I was struggling on a deadline, and the person taking the call knew as much or more about the matter as I did.
Sure enough, a few days after the column appeared, a copy of it came back in the mail: The accessibility item was underlined, and the comment was negative. Oh well.
Then came the following E-mail:
Dear Mr. Rein:
I read your column every week with great pleasure. However, I am sending this E-mail regarding your stance on E-mail access to your publication (U.S. 1, December 10). There is no reason why your organization should not accept attachments. Your excuse that file formats, graphic images, and fonts being unconvertible is absurd. I personally use "outdated" applications from the 1990s that convert files automatically. Also all software companies offer downloadable patches and upgrades for free from their websites.
Moreover, you stated that attachments are hazardous. If you haven’t already, I suggest you purchase some anti-virus software applications. These too, offer free downloadable upgrades via the Internet.
I can’t believe that every August you host a Technology Expo yet you forbid E-mail attachments. This can be compared to J&J hosting a Healthcare Expo and forbidding their manufacturers to manufacture safety-sealed products. It’s hypocritical.
I regularly read your Employment Exchange section. However, I disagree with the methods of submission for the Jobs Wanted section. Currently, one must mail or fax their submission. These two methods incur a financial cost to the submitter. It would be optimal if one could E-mail the submission because this is cost-free. As you stated, you will not be able to go back in time to change history, I highly suggest you upgrade your computer systems because pretty soon your publication will become a piece of history.
(Dedicated reader and Tech Expo attendee since August 2001)
Okay, Andrew: I have sent the E-mail around to the staff with a comment: "This guy has some reasonable points." While my column had to do more with complex graphic images such as ads that all too often do not open properly despite the latest and greatest software, that doesn’t mean that we cannot be a little more flexible on simple Jobs Wanted classifieds.
By all means, E-mail them (please try to include the text in your E-mail window and don’t force us to open an attachment for a 30-word ad). And when the Best Company awards come around again, put in a good word for us. Maybe there will be a category for a little company that doesn’t always get it right, but at least tries hard.