(Author's Note: Once again, I experiment. Bear with me. This is roughly based on a real life experience. It also reflects the fact that I've been reading Dave Eggers' stuff lately.)
I have work to do. (Check email) I have writing to do. (Check email) I have people to talk to. (Check email) I have a life to lead. (Check email)
All day long, as the clock ticked, as the sun marched, as the clouds rolled, I tried to concentrate and my concentration flitted away. (Check email) Goldfish had longer attention spans than I did then. 2 year olds all over the world could have beaten me in a staring contest. (Check email) Instead, I checked my email, continually refreshing the web application, looking for that one message that I needed to see.
Mail came in. (SPAM) Did I want to give the greatest gift? Refinance with bad credit? Compare and save on Valium? Actually, the Valium would have been useful. I was looking for something personal though, and it was definitely not there. That anticipated message, with its important payload, its potential for destruction or creation, did, afterall, need to find its way from a different continent. The packets needed to split, travel, hop, skip, jump, and reform on that plucky little mail server that I was hammering with constant requests to check my email box again.
People came into the office. They had problems. They needed my help. They needed me to listen, advise, sympathize, empathize, and at the very least they wanted me to look interested. They needed me, but I needed to check my email. Didn't they know? Of course they couldn't know and I couldn't tell them. They wouldn't understand. They would ask questions and they would want answers. If they didn't get them, they would make up their own ideas. I can't really tell anyone, not even this web site. I can't tell the world why this message was so important. What it might say. What it might do to me or for me. I needed it though.
It never came. I stayed late and worked late. The message was supposed to come. Was she hurt? Was she mad? Did I say something wrong? Every insecurity I had ever been burdened with wanted to ooze out of my pores to drown me where I sat. I wasn't going to let that happen though. Logic arrived. She was busy today. She hadn't had a chance to get to an Internet cafe. That was it. It was all good. She'd write later, I was sure. I was fine. Really. Truly. No worries there. (Check her website) She updated. Fuck. I pissed her off. I knew it.
Why didn't she write?
Head down, heart heavy, I walked to the Metro. Delay on the Red Line. Great. Wonderful. Joy.
Sarcasm felt good. Sarcasm was needed. A stiff drink was needed. Delay. What if she was writing to me right then? Delay.
A train rumbled up, filled to capacity with people. People on the platform saw the congestion and decided that they wanted to be close to their fellow citizens, to smell them, feel their sweat, inhale their stale breath. No, actually they just wanted to get home like the rest of us. I waited for the next train. Delay.
Once on, I felt my pants vibrate. Ooh. Pulling out the phone, I scanned the number. 221....
221. Recognition. It was her. She was calling. She couldn't write so she called. I was on the Metro. The phone barely had a signal. Would she hear me? She needed to call back!
"I'm on the Metro" Please hear me. Understand. Call back.
"Oh no! Where are you?"
"I just got on." Please understand.
"When will you get home?"
"Okay. I'll call you the...."
Disconnect. A big, goofy grin spread across my face. Self conciously looking around, I saw the other people on the Metro acting like I was a little unbalanced. They didn't know. They couldn't know. She called. She would call back. I would be there to take her call and...
I wouldn't have to check my email.
Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/26/2003