Cracking open an empty email inbox is a strange and frightening moment. Is the internet broken? There must be some kind of technical glitch that is preventing the world and my former 1,384 contacts from needing my opinion on something immediately. Yesterday there were about two hundred and fifty. Today… there are 4. One was an invite to play some kind of Zinga slot machine game.
So, you send a test message just to be certain it works and voila…up pops ‘testing’. Ok, so there must be something else. Maybe all of those emails that seemed so urgent I actually asked my family members to ‘hang on a sec this is important work stuff’ really weren’t for me after all. Perhaps they were for the person who sits in that chair and speaks through that device that allows many hundreds of thousands of other people to hear ‘the message’. Major blow to the ego. Realization number one, I’m not as famously popular as I thought.
There are many terrifically lovely people I’ve met through my years as a broadcaster and a great number of them I’d still smile at and say hello to if we met on a street corner in yoga pants. Some I’d even hug. The realizing that quite a few were really relationships of convenience or commerce isn’t so much surprising as it is a great big bummer.
The very refreshing and delightful part of all of this is the unexpected phone calls. The people who deliberately take the time from their busy lives and careers and families to use the phone as an actual speaking device and say hello. With their voice. Sure, texts and emails are very nice and totally appreciated. But a phone call? Who even does that any more? Those are the cherry red sunsets, the heart pumpers, the people who will in all likelihood receive an actual Christmas card.
On the flip side the former colleagues who say lame things like “I didn’t want to bother you” or “I thought maybe you needed some time” are sadly mistaken. Bother me! I don’t need any time. Time is the one commodity I have an unlimited supply of now. Shamefully, I’ve been this guy too. The one who forgets to call until too much time goes by it becomes awkward and then you feel like a mega-jerk if you happen to bump into them on the corner in yoga pants. It feels terrible when the regret surges through you like you just bottomed out on the roller coaster. I should have called. She’ll be ok. Next time I’ll call. Why didn’t I call? I’ve been so busy!
So here’s what I’ve learned. It’s a powerfully meaningful gesture to be the one who makes that human connection. So call. Or if you’re extremely busy email. That empty email box is a super scary place.
xo ~ tara