• February 1, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Dear John Inc.

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No, I'm not finished with the timely, holiday-related columns yet. I'll probably have to give it a rest for March, lest the Ancient Order of Hibernians pillory me for defamation of the Irish-American character. Fortunately, February provides a wealth of inspiration. The (new) bottle of single malt on my desk is also helping. It's a cruel twist of fate that arranges our holidays the way they are. New Year's Eve, celebrated in the West as an opportunity to get tanked and hook up with any one of our judgment-impaired comrades (gender preferences not always withstanding), is followed a mere 45 days later by Valentine's Day, a day on which we declare our undying love for our romantic attachments until such time as we change our minds. I've never even been in the position of having to introduce myself and explain anything the next morning like they do in all the sitcoms, so I can only wonder what it's like if you can't bring yourself to say "Thanks, and goodbye" so many days later. Something similar happened around the time I was writing this, and it seemed relevant. Pitney Bowes and Firstlogic, having announced their engagement in September 2005, called it off after the SEC raised an eyebrow after the party. Imagine the broken hearts as the two star-crossed companies parted at the regulatory altar. Or don't imagine--we at CRM magazine have acquired the private correspondence detailing the two companies' breakup, and present the paper trail in its mournful entirety: Dear First, I don't know how to say this right, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I can't go through with our plans to be together permanently. It's not you, it's me--I just couldn't take the pressure of all the scrutiny. Being with you put my life in the public eye too much, and I'm not used to that. I mean, I'm just a mail sorter when you get right down to it. I don't know how to deal with the SEC watching all our private moments.
This has got to be a shock for you, and I understand that you're very hurt and angry right now. But I don't want to break it off entirely--we've been close for a very long time, and I still have some interest in you--10 percent, if my calculations are correct. I'd hate to see that go to waste. Love, Pitney Pitney, You're damned right I'm hurt and angry. How could you do this to me, after all we've been through? Did our partnership involvement mean nothing to you? We had worked toward this day for years, and I was so excited to become your subsidiary. But all it took was a couple of questions from an authority figure to make you crumble. Why, Pitney? Is there something going on that you need to tell me about? Have you been seeing another company behind my back? I guess I should be grateful, after the way you chewed up Group 1 last year. Do you even let them out of the house anymore? And don't you dare forget about that 10 percent, either--it's all you'll ever have. Don't come around my office drunk on a Friday night, looking for a little merger action. I'm not that kind of company. Goodbye, First Tragic. It really gets you right there, don't it? *sniff* And while I'm at it, let me give a shout out to my little Long Island homey Malverne Mel, in honor of Groundhog Day. These guys brave wind, rain, and political idiots in strange clothing to forecast our prospects of spring every year. Even Punxsutawney Phil deserves mention, just for doing his shadow dance every year at a place called Gobbler's Knob, PA. That's great customer service. Contact Senior Writer Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com
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