About a month ago a visiting friend told us that she was traveling to Mexico City the following weekend for her son’s wedding. Her son lives in Minneapolis where he is involved in sales and servicing of mining equipment with lots of travel to southeast Asia and Australia; the bride was studying medicine in Houston. His mother started explaining to us how this was a match facilitated by Skype. So I followed up with Eric earlier this week now that they have settled into a new home in Minneapolis.
Eric learned about Skype a year ago May from a customer in Malaysia and started using it to communicate with this customer. He soon realized that Skype could replace his need for any calling card and now uses Skype routinely both from his home office and from hotels, airports and customer sites while traveling. In fact, he often uses Skype video for his presentations to make them more contextual. Within his sales presentations he talks about how his employer uses Skype, often including its free video conferencing, as one resource for providing customer service to customers who are half way around the world from the head office.. On one trip while making a sales visit in Orange, NSW, Australia his hotel did not have Internet so he did some “war driving” to locate another hotel with a free Internet signal to make his Skype calls.
However, Eric’s more interesting story is about how he started to use Skype to facilitate his relationship with Lore shortly after they met a year ago this summer:
Skype definitely helped us to revolutionize our long distance relationship. We would have dates on Skype where we would do things together. For example, we would go out and buy the exact same sushi dinner and eat it together. We both enjoyed the same kind of sushi at the same time, but in different places. I even organized a Skype date for the day that I went down to Houston to propose to Lore. That way I knew she would be home! If we had to worry about long distance charges we definitely would not have talked as much over the past year.
In further discussion Eric mentioned how they did cooking contests on Skype – for example, simple-to-make quesadillas. They would actually watch each other make a quesadilla over Skype video; they then would sit down, eat their preparation and judge who’s quesadilla is the best based on the look on the other person’s face.
While Eric was painting his new apartment he would turn on Skype video such that Lore could watch the progression of the painting. In general he says, “Skype definitely helped us to make a long distance relationship more doable as it definitely makes you feel like you’ve been together for a longer period of time.” He then went on to explain how they once did a “remote” shopping tour at the Brisbane Australia airport; Eric would walk through the stores showing items via Skype video while conversing with Lore via his Bluetooth ear piece; Lore then had the opportunity to select what items she would like to have purchased and brought home. And finally, when there was an occasion to celebrate they would each go out and buy champagne and drink toasts facilitated by Skype video and audio.
While they are now living together and have definitely reduced the need for Skype, I found that during my interview with Eric, Lore was on another laptop doing a Skype call with her parents and brother in Mexico City; Eric also uses Skype to talk with his family based in Toronto. Skype continues to be a facilitator in building and reinforcing their extended family bonds.
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