'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
EMAIL IS FRUSTRATING, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT STOPS
I heard an amusing story recently about a man who taught his grand-daughter to say the Lord’s Prayer. After much effort, the little girl memorized the entire prayer. She proudly recited it perfectly for her grandpa, except for one line: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from email.”
Well, in this day and age when it seems we’re being inundated with email, I can relate to the idea that “email” might be synonymous with “evil.” After all, nowadays some people have become slaves to their email. I know I have.
Almost all of the activities I do at work are done via email. Occasionally a phone call is involved, but the call often goes something like this: “Hi Bill, I just sent you an email. Please get back to me with an answer—preferably in the next ten minutes.”
It doesn’t matter whether this customer reached me while I was driving my car, or sitting in a meeting, or about to board an airplane. Just because he sent me an email and then followed up with a call means he expects my answer in ten minutes or less.
It gets a bit frustrating. And most guys don’t bother to call. They just send the email and then wait impatiently for ten minutes before sending another email wondering what’s taking so long. They also know I can check my email on my phone, so even if it happens to be midnight and I’m in bed, they still want a reply right away.
However, I really can’t blame these guys because I know they’re being pushed by their customers and clients, who no doubt sent them emails asking for answers right away. The process continues flowing as I fire off urgent emails to the factories we represent and demand immediate answers so I in turn can answer my customers.
I suspect there might be one person in a small office somewhere who starts each morning by sending out a single urgent email at 5 a.m. That one email starts a chain reaction that grows exponentially, so that by 10 a.m., like ripples in a pond, a few billion emails are flying across the Internet as every worker in every office in North America is scrambling to get some answers. I wish that one guy would stop doing that every morning.
This all came to mind when the October blizzard caused power outages for over a week in some parts of the state. I was completely cut off from my email for four full days. So how did I react during that time period? Did I accept the reality of the situation and enjoy the peace and quiet? Did I rest and relax without a steady stream of frantic email requests bogging down every minute of my day?
Of course not. I freaked out the whole time, fretting that my customers were in need of important information that I was unable to provide them. And worse yet, if they were located in a part of New England that was not affected by the storm, they probably didn’t know why I was not responding.
You should have seen me when the power finally came back on and an avalanche of about 1200 emails suddenly dumped into my computer’s inbox. I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning and reveled in the prospect of staying up all night answering the emails. Pretty weird, huh?
Now everything is back to normal, and I’m back to normal, which means I once again hate being a slave to that evil email.
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