Is email the new telegram?

I love email. Whoever invented it – kudos to you, good sir or good woman. The only downside to email, as I see it, is it takes away some of the charm and personalization from sending letters and cards, which we know I love doing.

Add in the ability to attach any old document, and it finally made faxing obsolete, much to the relief of Administrative Assistants everywhere. (And yet….people still use facsimiles. Can someone explain?)

The speed of owl – pre email.

I have several email accounts programmed on my phone so I can check them immediately. I don’t like having emails sitting in my inbox. I like being up to date on keeping it cleared out and having received whatever news or information someone has passed on to me.

I still find the follow-up question, “Did you get my email?” really funny. Yes, of course I got it, it was sent at the speed of light, practically.

But here is where I’m getting hung up with email. Unless a person is anal retentive like myself, there is no guarantee that sending an urgent email message – especially a personal one – will reach the intended recipient in a timely manner. There is no controlling when someone is going to actually open, read, and process your message.

For that reason, I find Read Receipts to be useless, not to mention annoying. Just putting that out there for any Read Receipt freaks. I have a habit of declining to send one when prompted unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll read the email and respond because I’m a responsible person – it’s none of your business when I open the email.

I know this seems counterintuitive but getting an email back saying, “John has read your email” doesn’t let me know that he’s available to talk about it, so if anything, it just adds to my anxiety.

So what tops the angry red flagged email? (Or if you’re Microsoft Outlook, you place a bar at the top that says, “This message was sent with High Importance.”)

Because urgent emails don’t always reach a person immediately, this is why the telephone remains in the top spot for efficiency. I was always in awe when, in old movies, a person would have a telephone call from someone in the middle of dinner at a restaurant. That’s some good communication right there, if someone knows to reach you mid-meal. In my pre cell phone years, I didn’t tell any one person where I was going to be at all times. I even liked being unreachable sometimes.

But with cell phones came……text messages!


When texting first came out, I thought, “How is this going to revolutionize a thing?” This was back when IMing was still kinda neat, so IMing by phone seemed weird. I’m glad I came around. Text messaging is your friend. I know I’m BFF with it.

If you are a normal person who carries your phone everywhere with you and receives (if not sends) text messages, then this, to me, is the best way to reach someone if s/he can’t pick up the phone.

However. It’s all contingent on actually remembering to bring your phone with you. I have forgotten my cell phone once or twice in my life. I felt naked and ill at ease the entire day. But someone like my boyfriend, whose cell phone is an afterthought, forgets his with ease. This wouldn’t bother me so much except that as is the case with Murphy’s Law, it will be the same day that I need to reach him post haste. It never fails.

When that happens, I’m forced to resort to the angry, all caps subject line and send him an email with something like: PLEASE OPEN AND READ IMMEDIATELY!!!!

And then I have to sit and pray – pray that the email servers don’t delay, pray that his email box is open, pray that he SEES it, assesses that it’s an actual emergency, and then responds. There’s just entirely too much praying going on. You have to sit – or pace – and with bated breath, hope that you can rely on this other person to take your electronic note seriously enough to respond quickly. Otherwise, you’re stuck, and then it’s Plan B time.

I’m not a fan of Plan B.

Whether we like it or not, email is slowly becoming the equivalent of what used to be the telegram. It still has its place and is chock full of merit but I think with our reduced attention spans and desire to be freed from the inbox, it is still a silent scream amongst the other avenues we have available to us to get someone’s attention.

All this having been said, perhaps what we really need is to get this whole WUPHF thing going. If I got a text message, fax, phone call, IM, email, Facebook notification and tweet all at the same time? I’d definitely be annoyed enough to respond.

Odds ‘n Ends

It’s been a busy week. Usually when I’ve been this occupied, things keep popping up that I think, I definitely want to write about that. And then I’ll make a note about it and I’ll be able to dedicate an entire entry to it. But for whatever reason, that didn’t happen this time. I kept waiting for something really inspired to hit me but all I have are these little tidbits about which I can write a paragraph or two and then that’s it. So what ensues is the best I could come up with from the week of September 8, 2008.

Totally me.

I discovered in the early part of the week that one of my favorite websites, someecards, allows you to create a username and password so you can log in and create your own cards. I’m in heaven! I sent my mom and aunt one and you can submit them for other people to see and possibly send out. (By the way, I’d like to give a shoutout to my friend Amy for introducing me to this website. My life has never been the same.) If you like to create with words and pictures, as I do, then it’s a perfect outlet. If you’re one of my friends or relatives reading this, don’t be surprised if I send you one. I go on kicks where I send multiple cards at once. I receive their weekly newsletter telling me when the newest cards have been added, as well. Yeah. I know.

In big sports news, Tom Brady has been badly injured in his knee and is purportedly out for the entire season. It’s big only because after last year’s amazing, fucking awesome-as-hell Superbowl at which the NY Giants’ defense took the trophy right out from the Patriots’ perfect record for the year, that the Patriots will have to try to get to the Playoffs/Superbowl without him. Brady’s a huge baby sore loser. I can relate a little bit since I hate to lose. I’m one of those introverts that doesn’t appear to be competitive on the outside, but I really seethe when I don’t win. My brother Zack and I used to play all kinds of games when we were kids. We had the most heated Mariokart marathons in the history of Super Nintendo. (Super Nintendo was the BEST! Remember Donkey Kong Country?) Neither of us liked to lose and it absolutely steamed his clam to see me kick his ass at something as boy-oriented as a video game. Mortal Kombat, no, but anything Mario-related and I was right up there with The Wizard. (If you don’t know that movie reference, you are not an 80s child and/or had a deprived childhood.)

I was the first kid to beat Super Mario Brothers 2, beating Wart in his bubbley kingdom of doom. Oh yah, that was me. And I whipped his toady ass with Princess, who had a decent floating capability, which was key to being able to jump over him and throw a radish at him. Where was I? Oh yeah, Tom Brady. Brady hates to lose and while he may be a good leader and quarterback, he just sets an example of being a huge crybaby p***y, making the New England Patriots look like giant douchebags. I like the New York teams kind of by default (and I learned more about football in my 18 month relationship with my ex than any other time) and I like the Colts. As I’ve previously mentioned, I dig me some Manning. So we’ll see how this new kid Cassel does. The Tom Brady thing is right up there with the big football news of Brett Favre being traded to the Jets. It makes for an interesting season, at least.

In other totally unrelated happenings, my mom sent me a hilarious email in which she included a link to a tee-shirt that had “MILF” on it. It came from CafePress, and it said “Yomama has the following message: ‘What’s a MILF?'”

The questionable tee.

I cracked up and told her what it stood for. (If you don’t know, just Google it. Where have you been the last ten years? The only other person who wouldn’t know is my dad.) When she found out she wrote “Uhhh thanks. Ick on the acceptable phrases scale.” My mom is 62 and wonderful and I love that despite the fact that she’s a very modern mom, she hadn’t heard of this particular acronym. I wish the hilarity stopped there but then she wrote, “Now there should be tees that say GILF or DILF, as in ‘Guy I’d’ or ‘Dude I’d..'”

I guess she thought that there should be these tee-shirts that women can give to their guys. I don’t want to know who my mom wants to give those shirts to. I wrote back that GILF or DILF would be construed as “Grandma I’d Like to…” or “Daughter I’d Like to…” I don’t want to know who would give those out if those got made. I love my mom to infinity and beyond, especially for giving me this kind of material. She thanked me for enlightening her. I’m always happy to help.

On Wednesday, I got in the elevator with two other gentlemen who apparently worked together. I think it must have been a boss or supervisor and a lower employee, because this bizarre conversation took place. This is the gist of it:

Boss: Did you check about those flights with Melissa?

Dude 2: Not yet. I’m just waiting on [some other dude] to get back to me about the figures.

Boss: Well, that’s gotta be done like…FIRST THING.

*Awkward pause.*

Dude 2: No yeah, I’m gonna get to it. It’ll get done.

Boss: Because it’s really important we get the cheapest flight.

Dude 2, (defensively and emphatically): I found the cheapest flight.

Boss: (pause) Expedia?

Dude 2: Yeah, Orbitz. One of those.

They exit the elevator. As soon as the doors closed I burst out laughing. How gauche is it to have that conversation not only in front of a stranger but in the elevator on your way up to work? It’s the worst when you have nothing else to talk about with someone you work with, especially someone who’s in a place of seniority, and s/he feels the need to talk to you about work you have to get done that day. I just know that Dude 2 was thinking, “Can you get off my nuts and wait to talk to me until we’re both actually inside the office and I’ve had some coffee?” The elevator is a strange, neutral territory of an office building with its own etiquette. When you first get to work and haven’t begun your day, it doesn’t feel right to have to talk about work before you’ve logged on to your computer and set your things down. But once you’ve put some hours behind you and lunchtime or later rolls around, it’s totally kosher to talk about work in the elevator. I felt bad for that poor bastard. I wonder if his day was ruined.

Everyone has at least one or two coworkers and/or supervisors that they don’t want to be caught dead with in the elevator. It’s 20+ seconds of an infelicitous ride that one or both either acknowledges with silence or in which one explodes with small talk about the weather. That’s the worst. At my old job, there were mini TV monitors in the elevators so you at least had the excuse of staring up at the screen for some tidbit of news or weather. Anything to avoid conversation, or worse, eye contact. I’ve definitely taken a lap around the reception area in order to avoid getting into the elevator with someone I don’t care for in the office. Feel free to leave me a comment detailing your elevator horror stories. I’d love to hear about it!

Last but not least, I have a tip for my fellow coffee lovers, especially if you buy lattes on a regular basis. Make the most of your latte by taking advantage of the spices that Starbucks and your local joints put out on the counter where you tinker with the drink. I always add Splenda and a couple bangs from the cinnamon shaker. It really makes the difference, folks. Not only is cinnamon an anti-inflammatory spice (just 1/2 a teaspoon a day keeps the doctors away! And don’t quote me on that or blame me for any medical problems that don’t go away when you inhale cinnamon) but it is absolutely divine on the taste scale and punches up one’s coffee but good. I have a real weakness for cinnamon. The subway station at Rockefeller Center (BDFV lines) has a Cinnabon upstairs so that when you’re at one end of the platform, it smells like someone is making cinnamon buns and it’s all I can do not to run upstairs and buy one. I haven’t succumbed yet, but it makes waiting for the train a far more pleasant experience than usual. It’s soothing and totally fools you into thinking that waiting for a train is a comforting experience. So that’s it – add cinnamon!

I’ve managed to kill another 90 minutes in avoiding cleaning up the pit that is my bedroom. If I can make a dent this weekend, I’ll feel like a real grownup. But all this difficult blogging might inspire a nap and/or watching something on HBO or Showtime OnDemand.

If you’re interested in learning more about Elevator Etiquette (there is a TON of information out there! It’s a real issue, apparently –) check out this video that someone kindly made to a great song called Such Great Heights by The Postal Service: