This morning, I woke up thinking about the student who sent me an e-mail yesterday at 3:30 pm about trying to catch me at 4:30 pm about something class related, only to get a second one after 6:00 pm where she was a bit frustrated for me not getting back to her. I saw all these e-mails some time after 7:00 pm, when I was catching up with my e-mails of the day.
For some odd reason, while I was thinking about the difference between expectactions of a reply and how often people actually check their e-mail, my groggy mind transitioned to flashbacks of the late 90′s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Ideal Husband, where paper notecards go back and forth between characters at lightening speed, made possible by couriers on foot in London. Somehow, these couriers managed to swiftly get their notes to their intended recipients on time. I have always suspected the screen writer was thinking about e-mail and how to Victorianize it for this film, while real e-mail at the time was the less convenient telegram office.
Somehow, the courier doesn’t always get to me on time. For me, text messages by phone closely resemble what those thankless servants did so efficiently. My checking e-mail is more like the visits to the telegraph office.
I am not the biggest fan of e-mail, but I understand its importance. Even with having my iPhone and iPad set up to access all my e-mail addresses, I don’t check my e-mail at every given moment. Most of the time, I even have the sound turned off, so I don’t hear the chime that announces a new message. I use to be much worse when I depended on sitting down at a computer, my own or in a faculty workroom. Sometimes, it would takes days if at all to answer anyone’s e-mail. I often found myself bombarded by all kinds of electronic notes, whether it was spam on my personal accounts or people at the college who were announcing this or that, none of it immediately relevant to me. Buried underneath this mess, notes from students, colleagues, and department chairs would go unanswered. If some butler in coat tails was chasing me down with note cards, I was totally oblivious. Plus, I didn’t feel goingerrant errand to to see if I had any telegrams.
Yesterday, I did get back to the recipient, though not in the swift timely manner as she had hoped. I did make it a point to reply to her about the time-sensitive issue at hand and offer alternatives. I got back to her within the day, albeit a few hours later. I’ll work on being a little more efficient with my e-mailing in the future, but that’s the best I can promise for now.