When I hear the little ding dong noise that alerts me to a text message on my phone, I have a Pavlovian response that makes me want to pull it out of my pocket to see what message is waiting for me. It isn’t with a sense of excitement, however, but sometimes a sense of dread.
I have that same sense of dread if I am away from my computer and come back to several messages. Because I deliberately don’t have a data plan on my phone, my emails are retrieved from my office computer or, more infrequently, if I am in a hot spot and decide to check in.
Sometimes I will get a phone call from someone who asks if I got their email. “I sent it five minutes ago. Didn’t you get it?” they will ask me. Well, frankly, no. And since we are being frank here, it is exceedingly rare that the message couldn’t wait.
But still I get that quickened pulse to think I am keeping someone waiting on me. Perhaps I should try to find a way to hardwire myself to my computer so that I can always be immediately reachable. Wait, that’s not the right way of looking at it.
Perhaps I should try to not be available a specific times. Maybe I should put my phone on airplane mode and really be with friends or family for a while. I don’t have to be on call 24/7. If you have noticed in my website, I am not Dr. Ingham so much of what I do is not critical. Yes, I provide excellent graphic design, copy writing, and bicycle maintenance services, among others. But at the end of the day, no one will live or die if I don’t pick up my messages right away.
Yes, I reply. I suppose it has been five minutes since you sent me the email. I don’t know for sure because I am not in front of my computer. Let me get back to you when I am there, and not here.