Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why am I apologizing? (Question of the Day: 50)

How long can I go on apologizing for not getting back to someone sooner before it becomes apparent that I simply don't get back to people sooner, and my apology is exposed as insincere?

I am, unlike everyone in the world, not overly impressed by the telephone or the e-mail. In my opinion, immediacy does not equal urgency. The fact that you can contact me right now doesn't mean that I want to talk to you right now.

You know, people send a letter, and I get that letter, and read it, and make a note to reply to it when I can / when I need to. And everyone in the world is okay with that. But someone leaves me a phone message, and I get that, and make a note to call them back when I can / when I need to, and they -- along with most people I know -- are shocked. E-mail is the same. People are constantly confounded by the fact that I can read an e-mail and then not immediately reply to it.

So I started saying to people things like Sorry I didn't call you back sooner, or sorry I didn't email you sooner, but then, one day, I realized (a) that's insincere, and (b) the other person, if I've talked to them before, knows it's not sincere, and (c) why should I have to call them back sooner? If someone calls me today and leaves a message and it's not urgent, and I call them, say, Saturday or Sunday, why am I apologizing?

After all: they called me when it was convenient for them. So am I not allowed the same luxury, of talking to them when it's convenient for me?

So if you call me or e-mail me: I'll get back to you when I can/ when I need to. And I'm not sorry.

1 comment:

lisapepin said...

Three cheers for this policy! People think Johann and I are inconsiderate because we don't answer the phone every single time it rings. First of all, 50 percent of the time it's a telemarketer anyway. Second of all, as you said, this person is calling when it's convenient for THEM. If I'm in the middle of making dinner or eating dinner or watching a movie, why should I stop what I'm doing to pick up the phone? I'll get the message and call back later, when THEY'RE in the middle of doing something. People always say, "But what if it's an emergency?" And my response to that is: If you're having some kind of emergency and you've determined that your best course of action is to call US, you've got bigger problems than me not picking up the phone. Besides, what kind of emergency would we even be equipped to handle, anyway? I suppose if you've got a snowman whose hat has blown off or you need a little light vacuuming done or are desperate to have an omelette whipped up in a hurry, we could probably help you out there. But that's about it. If your cat's up a tree or you need CPR or something, you've got the wrong number.