Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Richard Black0
Where Does the Time Go? Answering Emails (Part IV of IV)
When I’m not cooking meals my daughter won’t eat, helping her with her homework or being volunteered to iron patches onto Daisy scout uniforms I can usually be found fending off various infestations or remediating my home from lead based paint.
And when I’m not doing any of those things I can usually be found, in front of my laptop, patiently sorting through a few hundred billion emails relating to my daughter’s activities at school.
In all fairness that’s probably an exaggeration. I’m not performing the activity patiently at all. Typically I’m trying to cook dinner while helping my daughter assemble a set of Legos that require a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass while thumbing through a few hundred billion IMPORTANT!!! PLEASE READ!!! messages from Darcy’s school on my phone.
When I was a kid an eon or so ago most communication between a school and a parent was relegated to paper. Sure an entire continent was probably deforested by all of the purple dittos but the medium had the advantage of being physically present. There’s something about losing a piece of paper that implies one is harried and overworked; that one’s desk is just too packed full of other “real work” to get to. Losing an email lacks that gravitas. Losing track of an email implies that one is old and forgetful. Losing track of an email implies htat one is a moron.
The only other reliable(ish) form of communication between a school’s administration in my day and age was the local radio station. I remember huddling around my old man’s radio which was about the size of a Buick with my brother’s and sisters in the wee hours of the morning to find out if the latest round of snow or tornadoes or locusts had caused school to be canceled.
“This is WSNZ, the Snooze coming at you at five in the morning. Once we’re done with the Who’s Who of who showed up in the county jail this weekend we’ll notify you of our top five suspects for the latest lice outbreak in fifth grade and patient zero for the nasty bout of chlamydia that’s been making the rounds in the high school. Stay tuned for the weather, whether you kiddies will have a snow day (rimshot), and our industrial accident of the week!”
It was, as I’m fond of saying, a simpler time.
It’s not the emails themselves that are the problem. I’ve been successfully dealing with bulk communications for years from fake entities and irritating family members for years. The IRS, something called DFS (which I assume stand for Disney Fun Services) have been sending me messages for quite some time and, like the latest racist “joke” from my uncle Cletus or Kickstarter campaign to fund aunt Sally’s second liver transplant I click them into that great pile of spam in the sky. Unfortunately the communiques from Darcy’s school are a bit tougher to disregard. They are, apparently, meant to be read and even worse they are meant to be remembered and (horror of horrors) acted upon.
As rumor has it I’m just a man. At the end of the day, after I do all of the voodoo that I ummm do do, the second to last thing I want to do is wade through a Sisyphean pile of email and cram another “event” into my somewhat busy schedule. Propriety forbids me from mentioning the first thing I’d rather not do but that’s not the point. The point is that I’m screwed.
Of course me daughter bears the brunt of the fallout as well. When Darcy isn’t allowed to attend school, misses her favorite lunch or doesn’t have a note for her insulin because her father forgot to fill out a few e-forms she can get a bit “edgy”. Hell hath no fury like a five year old sent to school without her insulin or when her father thought it was pizza day. Hell also has no fury like a five year old sent to school wearing the wrong color of shirt, misses her Lego’s class, discovers that she’s not actually enrolled in a Lego’s class or that her father failed to provide her with fifty cents to be able to wear slippers to school because that is, apparently, a thing where we live.
The upside, as a parent, is minimal. Once she comes home from a successful day at school that I haven’t unwittingly screwed up I might get a few short and prompted words about what Darcy ate for lunch or where she went on a field trip. The downside however is practically exponential. Fortunately I have a safety net and, if that fails, a contingency factor.
In addition to being our family’s sole means of financial support my wife Laura, more often than not, also retains the one brain we share between us. Unlike her husband Laura has a superhuman ability to remember absolutely everything. It’s a blessing and a curse for both of us and one that strains the bonds of matrimony on a daily basis. Occasionally however my wife’s condition has it’s benefits.
“Darcy has dancing today,” my wife will give me a call, inevitably during my afternoon nap, “you need to drop her off at 3:30. She’s got a haircut after that. Richard are you listening to me? Are you snoring?”
“No. No. Not at all,” I respond before promptly snnnnooorrrrtttting off.
“Are you asleep?”
“I am totally and completely awake,” I say and snap back into consciousness, “dancing at 3:30, haircut…my little ponies ate my toothbrush…”
“I got it. I got it. I’m writing it down right now…in my phone…calendar tastes like Christmas.”
“I’m hanging up now.”
“I’ve love you Rainbow Dash.”
In the entirely possible event that I forget to about dance class or my daughter’s haircut I ask my wife to send me an email as a reminder. And then?
“Well I swore I sent it too you?” Laura will say amidst the sobs of my daughter who can’t tell me the name’s of her best friends but, somehow, has the presence of mind to know that she has missed dance class that takes place once every two weeks on months that have the letter “R”.
“I guess I didn’t get it” I say and hand Laura my phone,” go ahead and give it a look.”
“I could have sworn that I sent it to you,” Laura says flabbergasted.
“You’ve been really busy sweetie,” I tell her with a slight note of condescension and more that a little judgement, “it probably just slipped your mind.”
Am I a deplorable human being? Quite possibly.
Is my marriage still intact? To the best of my knowledge the answer is “yes”.
Plausible deniability is a wonderful thing and, to paraphrase Stephen King it is, perhaps, the best of things. After all it’s what’s kept my marriage on track for over ten years at least, of course, until my wife reads this post.