Too many adults become serious people. Serious about work. Serious about politics. Serious about mowing their lawns. Serious about everything!
When my mother was 62 years old, she dusted off a clunky Cannondale with Mary Poppins handles and joined a bicycling group. She was recovering from heartbreak and had just moved to a new town.
She’s always enjoyed this walk, the gentle pace, the repetition, one foot after another, left, right, left, right. The destination pulling closer with each step. She feels herself relax as she follows the twists and turns of the path, knowing she will unspool completely when she arrives.
A movement catches her eye and a dark blur bursts into view, dashes across the path before disappearing into the unkempt grass on the other side. Startled she jumps back, scared by the sudden appearance of the local cat on the hunt.
A pause, she laughs, adding to the noise of the forest, her sound bouncing from tree to tree, reassuring the thumping beat of her heart as her laughter tumbles away through the trees. She continues on her way.
Evening settles around her, the sun sneaking through the gathering clouds to brush the tree tops on the horizon, spindles of light cut through the trees leaving strange shadows across her path. She feels the first droplets of rain, puts her hood up and pulls her cape tighter around her body.
Up ahead she glimpes the first sign of the cottage, a trail of smoke rising in the distance, buffeted gently by the rising breeze. She imagines the roaring hearth inside and quickens her pace towards the warmth.
Through the gate at the end of the path now, the long mechanical groan of unoiled hinges seems louder in the gathering twilight and then, there in the cottage ahead, she sees him standing in the window, watching and waiting for her.
She walks briskly now, the quiet of the woods behind her, a new focus in front. He is waiting, she walks with purpose, striding up the path to his cottage, cape billowing.
The door opens and there he stands, silhouetted as the night descends.
“Hello little girl”, says the wolf.
Someone at the dinner table wanted to know what everyone’s turning point on climate was, which is to say she wanted us to tell a story with a pivotal moment.
This video series written and narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr. presents short 2-4 minute lessons about how Black people shaped American history. Here are a few videos to get you started: There are almost 100 videos in all — what a treasure trove.
I digress. Where was I?
Ohh yes, watching the ‘… is typing…‘ message and waiting, waiting, waiting on that third message…
To recap, so far, they’ve sent:
09:14 – Hi
09:14 – Can I ask a question?
09:14 – [… is typing]
Annnnnd finally a third message appears, the actual question that they wanted to ask me all along has finally been unveiled. I’ve still not seen it as I’m not at my desk, my status is set to Away with a little red circle helping (those who aren’t colour blind?) fully understand that I am not available to have questions asked of me now, forcing me to leave that message unread, unloved, floating in the ether until I deign to reply!
Three separate messages, less than 30 seconds apart.
Why?! Is there some setting I’m unaware of that automatically starts a new message based upon certain triggers? (they said “Hi”, quick start a new message… ohhh they ended a message with a question mark, start a new message…???)
Or as is increasingly the case as I
grow older mature, is it just me? Is my approach the wrong one here?
Here’s how I’d do it.
“Hi, was wondering if you can help, I need blah blah…”
One single message; polite (I said Hi!), consenting their time (vaguely), and including the actual request itself. All in one line in one message so that the person who, I am pretty sure, can read English to a competent level, can parse it all immediately before telling me to naff off, or leave the message ‘unread’, or maybe even respond to my request.
Like I say, this is not any real level of annoyance, in fact it’s barely a blip, a quick wondering that I toss aside with barely a second thought.
But it keeps happening, and it’s not just one person and it’s not just my current colleagues. It is, and has been, rife throughout my career.
Did I miss a class in school or something?
Or is the problem me? Hi.
[insert culturally prominent Taylor Swift reference here]
Answers on a postcard, or in the comments as who can afford to send postcards these days (have you seen the price of a stamp! Bloody Tories!).