The e-mail inbox can be a capricious conveyer of fortunes, both good (Cake today at 3 p.m.!) and bad (VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Holiday shifts). I'd like to inaugurate a new, semiregular feature showcasing life's electronic uncomfortable moments.
The motivation to do this came not from an e-mail, but from an IM conversation, where I learned that one of my employer's major show hosts refuses to direct his listeners to any Web URL featuring a subdirectory, because it would require him to utter the word "slash" as part of the address, and he will not say "slash," because he feels that is not "conversational."
It's true that for a radio host to say something like "Visit radio.com slash egomania" is, indeed, not at all conversational for listeners who happen to tune in from the year 1985 and have never seen the World Wide Web before. I imagine people across the country changing their dials, muttering, "I can't understand all that gibbity hoo-hah on the radio these days!"
This instance made me think about many other bizarre moments of inflexibility and pomposity I have encountered at said organization, much of it appearing in e-mail form. That, in turn, got me thinking about all the icky-feeling e-mails I have gotten in my whole life. There are so many, and it's time to start the healing.
The following e-mail is from another "on-air personality" who bristled when I asked her if we could have some of her show guests write an online companion to their conversations.
Look.,.. I fear that if they are asked to write something for you in advance, by the time I get to taping them, they will sound rehearsed and flat, and be reading from their notes. I want the sound of spontaneity -- of people thinking on their feet -- on the radio. So please .... Keep your requests for AFTER I have recorded my interviews.
This is a pretty mild, yet adequately condescending and dismissive, example. Because of space, unfortunately, I have had to delete many other mails in which I was treated like a misbehaving (virtual!) pet. From now on, I am going to start saving anything objectionable, so that I can publish it. I would love to have others share their own examples of unpleasant e-mails, either workplace-related or personal. You can submit them in the comments or e-mail them to me and I will print them in a subsequent post.