A Doorway in Boston
A Doorway in Boston
IT WAS A blustery November day, cold but bright, and I was lost. The directions I‘d printed off the Internet weren‘t doing me any good. The road map that had looked so simple on my computer screen had turned into a ball of real-world confusion—thanks to Boston‘s cow-path roads and its plague of twisted street signs. As the digits of my dashboard clock clicked past the scheduled time for my lunch meeting, I decided I‘d have better luck on foot. I pulled into an open parking space across from the high green walls of Fenway Park, got out of the car, and asked a passerby for directions. He pointed me to a nearby street and, at last able to follow the twists and turns of my MapQuest printout, I soon arrived at the right place: a hulking gray building at the end of a litter-strewn side street.
At least I thought it was the right place. I was looking for a company named VeriCenter, but there was no name on the building—just a beat-up little sign with a street number hanging from a post above a heavy steel door. I double-checked the address: it was definitely the right number. So I pushed the door open and walked into the world‘s most unwelcoming entryway: no furniture, no window, no company directory, no nothing. Just a black phone without a keypad on the wall beside another heavy steel door.
I lifted the phone and a man‘s voice came on the line. I gave him my name and the name of the person I‘d come to meet, and he buzzed me through—into a second entryway, nearly as barren as the first. The man, a security guard, sat behind a metal desk. He put my driver‘s license through a tiny scanner, printed a blurry image of my face onto a visitor‘s pass, then had me sit in a chair beside an elevator. Someone would be down in a minute, he said. By this time, I was starting to wish I had stuck to my guns and turned down the meeting. A guy from VeriCenter‘s PR firm had been sending me emails for some time, and I‘d been diligently forwarding them into
the electronic trash bin. But when he managed to get hold of me by phone, I gave in and agreed to a meeting. Here I was, then perched on an uncomfortable chair in what appeared to be a dilapidated factory on the Friday before Thanksgiving in 2004.
The Big Switch