The Tales of the BossLady are entries from an old journal I once kept, documenting the day-to-day goofery of working for an aggravating Realtor and her Realtor boyfriend. These anecdotes were all written several years ago; I’m a little older, a little wiser, and a little less full of myself these days, or so I dare to think.
Recently I managed to convince BossMan to let me start emailing .pdf files to people, rather than continue the sad practice of faxing a contract to one person, then having them fax it back to us so we can fax it to the other party and let them fax it back to us so we can fax it to the main office, and so on and so forth. After one or two faxes, these things become illegible and we were getting more and more complaints, so finally I started using Acrobat Distiller to create .pdf copies of various things, uploading them to our Web site, and emailing a link to the party who needs the document. We don’t email attachments because most ordinary people are either rightfully suspicious of attachments, or they can’t figure out how to open them. The concept of clicking a link is fairly simple and straightforward, and most people can figure it out.
There are, of course, a few exceptions, most notably from AOL users who aren’t able to click links in their emails because of the way AOL parses them. Most AOL users know, however, that it works this way and are able to grasp the concept of “copy and paste the link into your address bar.”
Unfortunately, there are a few simple souls, like an AOL user I spoke to yesterday, who can’t even get that far. Why these people have email in the first place, I have no idea, but I had to get on the phone and walk the customer through the lengthy and complicated process of retrieving the .pdf from the link I’d emailed him.
BossLady took this as yet another opportunity to harangue me about something that wasn’t really a persistent problem (really, maybe one out of every twenty emails we send results in a call from a confused user). She insisted that the links I was creating were “too complicated for stupid people.” She doesn’t want to waste time on explaining email links to people when we could, in her opinion, solve the problem by simplifying the filenames.
I name the files along these lines:
http://oursite.com/customername/LA_customername.pdf (“LA” stands for listing agreement, if you care) or
This allows me to keep track of what particular documents I’ve sent to which customers.
But BossLady explained her theory to me, at great length: When people have trouble opening these links, she said, they attempt to type them into the address bar themselves, but get confused by capital letters and underscores. She suggested — nay, insisted — that I start formatting the filenames thusly:
BossLady is firmly convinced that this, and this alone, would eliminate the crushing tsunami of time-wasting phone calls from idiotic customers. She literally spent twenty minutes on this thesis.
Never mind the fact that no matter how simple the filename, this particular guy would not have been able to retrieve the document without my help because he was that clueless. Never mind the fact that filenames like the ones she insists on don’t tell you anything about what type of document you’re sending, which would make record-keeping a royal pain in the ass in the long run. A royal pain in my ass, to be specific, since I’m the one who does the work. And never mind the fact that calls of “I can’t open the link” are actually a very rare occurrence, and not something that happens more than once a month or so, if that.
This was just another case of BossLady attempting to sound like she knows what she’s doing and how to solve problems. I’ve noticed an increasingly desperate need on her part to assert BossLadyAuthority. She seems to feel that the best way to do this is to tell me how I’m doing something wrong at least once or twice a day.
I’m telling this story as a lead-in to a truly priceless comment that BossLady made after she was through lecturing me on how I was making things difficult for the non-Internet-savvy with my “complicated” filenames:
“Some of these people are pretty hopeless when it comes to technology.”
I replied, “…Yeah.”
I have since discovered a much better workaround for emailing AOL users: Use an HTML anchored link in the body of the email. (Not being an AOL user myself, I had to do a little research on the issue before the solution came to me. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t even come close to knowing everything.) I plan to start utilizing this method, rather than mangling my file naming system. I don’t plan on mentioning this to BossLady because it would take me forty-five minutes to explain the concept of “anchors” to her.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the less I actually say to BossLady, the less aggravation I’ll have to endure trying to ram a new concept into her skull. It’s similar to the “Just do it; it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” theory.