Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Don't Press 'Send'!

It would not be unreasonable to suggest that I don't have the longest fuse... Fortunately I am married to the most placid man in Yorkshire and generally, I don't think I lose the plot too often (children may disagree here but I don't think they read this...) However, occasionally, someone emails me something that makes me want to fire off a less-than-polite email in response.

Now this is the trouble with emails - tone of voice. It's not always clear whether the comments contained therein are politely, helpfully but firmly meant or whether it is just a case of 'I know better and I am telling you this!' Generally I guess emails of the critical type fall into the first category but, because tone of voice is hard to detect in this high-speed communication world and because it is all too easy to react and respond quickly, sometimes something which one might have thought better about later is already in an email and...oh no...I pressed 'Send'.

A while ago, a neighbour of ours started to build an enormous barn. He had obtained planning permission and we all knew it was happening but I guess none of us bothered to work out the dimensions of what he was actually constructing. As the barn began to grow into something which the locals in our village community referred to as 'the aircraft hanger', the natives definitely started to become restless.

The barn-builder is a lovely bloke - digs my car out of the snow in winter, helps with minor rural catastrophes that tend to occur when my other half is away on business - so I was not about to get involved in this controversy. However, another neighbour fired off an email to the council regarding the dimensions of the construction, with a copy to me. Hours later, his wife rang to say that he bitterly regretted making a fuss and that in real terms, it wasn't a problem. He had, in the heat of the moment, pressed 'Send'.

I was likewise guilty of doing the same thing the other day. End of day, end of week, tired and grumpy, I received an email which was probably designed to be helpful but the tone of voice (in my state of grump) appeared to be 'I know about this and you clearly don't' so I did what people do when they are tired and grumpy and fired a short, pithy one right back and, yes, I pressed 'Send'.

Suffice to say, I am feeling suitably guilty and really I should have just pressed delete. So, what can I say? A lesson learnt the hard way, like all the best lessons, and I shall attempt not to re-offend. Just don't send me stroppy emails on a Friday because I still can't promise!

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