Saturday, February 19, 2005

The $3,000 Laptop Bag

Don't skimp on your laptop bag: "When it comes to a laptop bag I opt to go as small and light as possible. My laptop already weighs over 6 pounds by itself and to add a lot of weight with a heavy case just doesn't appeal to me. I may have to rethink that strategy after..."—jkOnTheRun

I found this article amusing, given that just days ago I was complaining to whoever would listen about my 3-pound laptop and my 30-pound bag. Don't get me wrong; it's an excellent bag. But it literally gives me back problems, despite my ultramodern, superlite tablet computer's meager heft. And as with all great luggage, there's a story behind it...

It was early 1999 and my new wife and I had moved to the Bay Area to get used to being married and try San Francisco on for size. I was working as an SE for Vignette, and business was going gangbusters. The sales rep I worked with and I had a presentation scheduled with a company in Santa Clara, and it was for a relatively small ($70k) deal. The rep (who shall remain nameless... wait, no he won't, his name is Ladd Austere), lived in the East Bay and called me the night before the meeting. He told me that it was a really long way for him to drive for such a small deal (I told you business was good) and that I should do the whole meeting myself. Now, you must understand that the way this normally works in enterprise software sales is that the SE does the demo and the chalk-talk and handles technical questions and the rep does everything else. Doing the whole thing myself was something I had never even considered. But being the cocky young gun I was, I agreed.

The presentation went off without a hitch (if I do say so myself), the demo was flawless (at least from my side of the table), and the deal was done. I think Ladd actually took the paper, but he never had to leave his house to do it. He got the commission (probably around three grand unless he was already into accelerators, which is likely, in which case it would have been more like five) and I got... a laptop bag.

Ladd, being the gracious guy that he is, bought me a very nice Tumi bag, which I carry to this day. It's too big and it weighs too much, but it and I have been through a lot together, including at least 500,000 air miles. It's protected every laptop I've had in the last five years, and I'll carry it until either it falls apart or I do.

The whole situation made me realize I was underselling my own skills, so I demanded a sales rep position in order to make better commissions, both of which I got. But looking back, I realize that between Ladd and me, I probably got the better end of the deal. I still have the bag. I can guarantee you Ladd doesn't still have the three grand.

Ladd, if you read this give me a call. Good times.