Tag Archives: email

Can We Talk?

I went to Body Specs earlier this week for my regular 12:30 session. “I need to stop at 12:45 today,” I said. “I have a meeting.”

So Skip gave me a set that I finished right at 12:45. “You should just tell us ahead of time,” he said after I’d changed. “We can get you in earlier that way.”

I’d just assumed I’d have a short session instead. But he was right; with advance notice I’d have been able to get in my full session. Besides, it was common courtesy.

The next day after my workout, my wife called. “Did you tell Skip I needed to talk to him at my session today?” she asked. “Yes,” I said, “but Skip left early today. So you’ll have to wait until next time.”

“I wish you’d told me,” she said. She’d been caught in traffic and wouldn’t make her session on time, and was worried she’d lose her opportunity to consult with Skip. He wasn’t there anyway, but she hadn’t known.

Well, what goes around comes around. This afternoon I was setting up for Run Woodstock and noticed the recycling rolloffs I’d ordered hadn’t arrived. So I called the disposal company to check where they were. “The delivery was changed to Friday morning,” I was told.

It wasn’t the fault of the rep I’d worked with; he’d put “delivery Thursday” in the work order. The operations manager had changed the delivery day and time, probably to accommodate his other delivery commitments.

“I need to know these things,” I said, and confirmed they had my contact information on file. The rep agreed I should have been called.

What do you suppose is going on? It’s easier than ever to reach out and touch someone (any of my readers old enough to remember that slogan?). Today I called a co-worker in Costa Rica and five minutes later we were working through a shared document on our screens, each of us taking control when needed. Thousands of miles distance and two hours time difference? No big deal – standard practice.

And communication is increasing rapidly worldwide. Yet while use of social media and email are growing, mobile voice usage (i.e. phone calls) has been dropping since 2013. I’m as guilty as anyone else of this. As an introvert I’m more comfortable with exchanging emails, where I can take my time and compose messages carefully. Personal interactions like face-to-face meetings and phone calls are mentally draining.

Check out some interesting stats and graphics at this blog regarding how communication is growing, but voice communication is falling. (Image is from the blog.)

But nonverbal communication is by no means foolproof. There are times I’ve sent a business email and heard about it later because it was misinterpreted. “That should’ve been a phone call,” my boss will say. “Your tone of voice and manner of delivery would have made your meaning clear.” In part because of this I’m more tolerant of emails I receive that seem less than polite.

(Check out this article: 14 words and phrases you should not use in emails.)

I’m sure there’s some heavy duty, government-funded research going on that will reveal the enormous social damage being caused by Twitter and Snapchat, and how uncontrolled flame wars between spouses are spiking divorce rates. While I may not be able to preserve the American family all by myself, at least I can be better about calling people when needed.

And yet…as my wife and I drove home from a weekend up north, her phone rang. It was our daughter in Richmond and her wife. As much as we enjoy hearing from them, being a parent there’s always that little concern about an unexpected call from a faraway kid. But no worries this time. “I just called to say hey,” she said.

So there’s hope for the world after all.

Dysfunction, Dependence, and a Crime Against Hummus

Today, St. Patrick’s Day, was also a day of dysfunction. Having an active imagination and open mind, I’m perfectly willing to blame leprechauns. But whatever the cause, it was (in retrospect) a day filled with incidents that were both amusing and a bit disturbing.

Leprechaun meme

Seems like a reasonable misassumption.

Here are some of my experiences today. Draw your own conclusions.

1. The office email server was offline this morning. I could work on other things, but I felt a noticeable gap in my routine. I’m just so accustomed to checking emails first thing to help figure out what I need to get done. Whatever did I do in the morning before email was invented? Having trouble remembering.

2. Our refrigerator is failing, so an appliance tech came by to check it out. His findings: he can repair it (with no warranty), or we can buy a new refrigerator for not much more. Why? Because like too many things, refrigerators are not designed to be easily repairable. The “throwaway” attitude still rules our consumer society! Fortunately, there are signs of that changing.

3. I went to REI to buy some things for servicing our bikes. “The power’s out,” I was told by a greeter. But they were open, so I got the stuff, got in line, and waited. And waited. The young staff, trained and used to scanning barcodes and swiping credit cards, had almost no clue how to fill out sales receipts by hand. They had to write down all the little numbers on the barcodes and ask for the prices, then total it up.

Not bad for someone with so little practice in handwriting.

Not bad for someone with so little practice in handwriting.

Perhaps the funniest (tragic?) moment was when I paid. My total was $37.10 with tax, which I calculated in my head and laid out two $20 bills and a dime. The cashier picked them up. “Out of $40.10,” she said, then turned to a colleague. “You got a calculator handy?”

4. Next door to REI, the Whole Foods was closed, completely unable to deal with a power outage. This meant I had to drive to the other store across town to get my panini. And many traffic lights were out on the road. Predictably, there were some drivers who didn’t know to treat them as four-way stops, and either pushed their way through out of turn, or sat there frozen. Perhaps some of them are still there.

Power outage? Abandon ship! Women and chocolate first!!!

Power outage? ABANDON SHIP! Women and chocolate first!!!

5. Next, a stop at my new bank, which has a convenient office inside Meijer and has ATMs up north where we camp. I’d set up a new checking account online, which also created a savings account that I couldn’t cancel. So while funding the checking account, I asked if I could close the savings account. Here was the answer: “If we close it now, there will be a $25.00 fee. But if you don’t fund it, it will expire with no penalty.” In other words, it benefits me more to let it die of neglect than give it a quick, merciful end now. Does that make any sense to you?

And, finally:

Wider perspective, so you can appreciate the closeup.

Wider perspective, so you can appreciate the closeup.

6. I’d run these errands, along with a few more, right after my workout. They took longer than expected, and I arrived home starving. And when the tub of hummus I’d bought stubbornly refused to open, all the small frustrations took over in a childish act that turned out messy but amazing. I had no idea hummus was capable of such a wide dispersal pattern. Fortunately, enough remained in the tub that I could still have some.

Above the refrigerator? Really???

Above the refrigerator? Really???

None of the above annoyances were anything close to a real problem, but it can be hard to me to keep that in mind in the heat of the moment. Which means it’s even more important for me to keep things in perspective and be grateful for my blessings.

And I can stop being so smug when I hear that a half-inch of snow shuts down Atlanta or Dallas. All it took here was a power outage to mess up my day, and result in a terrible waste of good hummus. Don’t let this happen to you!

Breaking News: Exercise Good, Scams Bad

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS HERE with a couple pieces of information that will be news to you, if you don’t know about them already.

Captain Obvious

1.  The following news is from the New York Times (which is a New York City newspaper):

Study: Exercise in middle age is important to health

Yes, a landmark, ground-breaking study found that men aged between 65 and 83 who exercised several times per week were healthier and less likely to die over the 11 years of the study than men who were sedentary. And there’s more: previous studies have found that not smoking is healthier, as is being moderate with alcohol, and that wealthier people have fewer health problems.

These studies took years to complete and no doubt thousands, if not millions, of dollars to implement. Of course, they could have just asked some middle-aged people why they exercise regularly.

Really, Ms. Times reporter, this is more fun than sitting on my butt eating ice cream.

Really, Ms. Times reporter, this is more fun than sitting on my butt eating ice cream.

Now to give the Times a little credit for running this piece, the study also looked at sedentary people who started exercise in middle age. These people aged nearly as successfully as those who were active their entire lives. All exercisers lived longer and better than those who remained sedentary.

So while exercise throughout one’s lifetime is best, it’s never too late to start and gain the benefits. This is great news. So why are you still reading? Get up and DO something, slouches! Come back in 30 minutes. I’ll wait.

2. There are people online who would love to steal your money during the holidays.

I got a nice message at work today from our helpful SysAdmin, warning us about the proliferation of emails pretending to be invoices, “order confirmations” or offers of free gift certificates. All you have to do is “click here” for details. And if you do, you’re in for a nasty surprise. You, too, can have your identity stolen and your laptop hijacked to join the botnet!

Since I love collecting scam emails (you wouldn’t believe how many lotteries I’ve won that I never entered) I was already aware of the practice. But I just had to share this one.

Home Depot scam email

Looks fairly convincing at first sight, right? Naturally, there are a few clues – like it doesn’t know my name, and the bad grammar. But here’s the kicker:

Home Depot scam email - Sing UpWell, it IS caroling season!

Gotta go. I’m going to do a study to find out if people who stand in the rain get wetter than those who stay indoors. And for a few extra thousand, I’ll also study whether you get wetter walking in the rain, or running in it. Where do I send the proposal?