Saturday, June 24, 2006

THERE IS this joke doing the rounds in the cyberspace about the job seeker who gets short-listed as a sweeper in Microsoft. He is rejected because he has no e-mail address to which the appointment order could be sent. Stunned, the man does not know where to turn with only $10 in his wallet. He decides to buy oranges from the wholesale market and sell them in retail. Within less than two hours, he sells them, earning a handsome profit. This opens the window of opportunity: repeating the process several times more that day, and on several days.

Over time, he grows a rich orange trader with a fleet of insulated delivery vans. Then he decides to take an insurance policy. The agent asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he has no e-mail address, the adviser is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the Internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you would be now, if you had been connected to the internet from the very start!" After a moment of thought, the orange millionaire replied, "Why, of course! I would be a floor cleaner at Microsoft!"

Jokes apart, it is only a luddite who does not have an e-mail ID today. Whether you own a computer or not, whether you use it or not, you have not `arrived' if you do not have an e-mail ID. `What? You have no e-mail ID?' friends would sneer at you as if you were a despicable guttersnipe. The e-mail IDs of several people are straightforward like or or some such structure. But if you have a name like Thomas John or R Nirmala or Shahul Hameed or S Narayanan and you approach a popular service provider, you will be told that has already been allotted, would suit you?

That is when you look for other email IDs. Like Amitabha Guha, Managing Director of State Bank of Travancore did. To his consternation, he found that he had at least 492 namesakes. So he decided to settle for a distinct e-mail. A nature-lover, he chose, pretty confident that this was virgin territory. (For the benefit of the uninitiated, cyathus striatus is the name of a beautiful fungus, commonly known as the bird's nest fungus, Mr. Guha explains.) Oh boy, wasn't he in for a rude shock? That name too had been taken, and not by one or two, but several. (He is the proud owner of a unique email address now, located after long hours of hard toil and search.)

A law student who doubles as a salesman for credit cards to earn an extra buck chose aurora_borealis@... because `It's exotic.' This often involves an assumption that people will be more `impressed' by and therefore remember an interesting name like this. That is a myth, according to his friend. "Every time I want to send a message to him, I have to look up my diary because I just can't remember the goddamn ID."

"I have chosen a name that reflects my inner self," says Anjali whose ID starts with the word `sincere'. This depends on who your inner self happens to be! While a name like moonlightsonata@... or whenindoubtturnleft@... may reflect something deep within you, it is unlikely to convey anything more than an impression of amateurish adventurism. Well, the theory that the e-mail address reflects the inner self is not always true, would the collegians who answer to the email IDs like cat_on_the_wall@... tigerontheprowl@... and alwaysatwar@... aver.

Sheila Kiran, HR consultant, suggests that it pays to keep your email ID professional and plain. A prospective employer would think twice before hiring a young man whose email address is something like out-on-a_weeks_parole@... or mea_culpa@... or unabletostayunwillingtoleave@ or lunaticanonymous@... , however hep or radical it might sound, she warns.

Like Kishore (youcanalwaysreachme@... .) found out. Having cleared CAT, he was being interviewed by the panel at a famous B-school. He had heard that one could expect questions ranging from motivation theory to metaphysics to balance of payment. As he walked in, one of the professors looked at his application and asked him, `Why do you have an email ID like that?' As he was bracing himself up to answer the bolt from the blue, another panellist said "It should have been youcanreachmealways@... or alwaysyoucanreachme@... but not the way you have written." No word about dialectical materialism or capital account convertibility.

The sane advice is, it's all very well to have a killer of an email ID like jack_the_ripper@... for use by your pals, and you can be known in the chat room as I_live_life_as_if_there_is_no_tomorrow@... but save a sober-sounding address like sureshmnair_201457@... for your use by your prospective employer.