Today, a gentleman approached me and politely asked if he could ask me a question.

Normally, this dialog is a little more protracted and goes as follows:

‘Excuse me. Is your name Norman Brightside ?’


‘Do you work for Siebel ?’

‘Yes.’ (although strictly I work for Oracle on the Siebel CRM product)

‘Are you from Expert Services ?’


‘Do you mind if I ask you a quick question ?’

‘Not at all. Fire away.’

Anyway, what was unusual and striking about this approach was the fact the gentleman was carrying a Reporters Notebook and a pen.

When we sat down to discuss the various strategies for gathering, refreshing and (in obtuse cases), dropping statistics on objects in the Siebel schema, he actually asked me if I minded pausing briefly while he wrote things down.

I am not very clever. I am always writing things down mainly to avoid forgetting them. I tend to gather a lot of data when I visit a customer. Some of it is important, some of it is not. At first, it is not always obvious which is which.

As I usually have to produce a formal report, I find it necessary and useful to jot things down. My jottings are normally in a text file which I take away with me as input into the report. This is another reason I almost always exclusively use SQL*Plus to script test cases and take away a wad of spool files on a memory stick.

I am not overly organised. Sometimes, I may have a pristine pad of A4 paper but more often I am scribbling on the reverse of my flight/hotel itinerary or a Google map.

If I am talking to a Siebel administrator, project manager, Oracle DBA, in a meeting or a conference call or just chatting with an end user, I will ensure I have a piece of paper available. Just to write things down.

However, the fact I actually noticed this gentleman was equipped with a pen and paper for our brief chat and also made notes and jottings, merely served to reinforce how rare this seemingly obvious and eminently sensible practice is.

Or am I just mixing in the wrong circles ?