"You'd worry less about what other people thought of you," my old man told his kids during our insecure teenage years, "if you knew how seldom they do."
My mother put it differently. About anyone who didn't approve of her or someone loved she said, "Fuck him if he can't take a joke."
I have taken both dicta to heart, but my dad's comes in especially handy in the world I inhabit, as an email raconteur, provocateur, self-defender and salesman.
I send several dozen emails most days, as it usually turns out. Forty five, yesterday, and that wasn't a heavy day. (I say, "turns out," because if I actually knew every morning that I had 50 or 60 emails to send that day, I would not be able to get up; in fact, I'm now thinking of going back to bed.)
Lots of times I send emails that don't require responses, and wind up receiving long responses. Occasionally I'll query someone I don't expect to hear back from right away, but I do. (Governor Hickenlooper's ghostwriter, yesterday, for instance.)
And often enough, I send emails that I reckon will get responses, and they don't.
Is it because I wrote something thoughtless and barbaric that I, through the one-way mirror of my own, narcissism, cannot see?
Or is it because the person has always loathed me, and has recently been inspired by the Sepp Blatter story to forward my email to the FBI?
Really, those are the only two choices.
Except, 999 times out of 1,000, the truth is, my email is stuck in the other person's spam folder, the other person has been on a massive deadline or an alcoholic bender, the other person needs to check with her boss, the other person was waiting for a suitable time to write me a thoughtful reply, the other person has been shopping my email to Hollywood because he thinks it would make a great feature film.
The point is, it's almost never about me. It's almost always about the other person.
Of course it's the thousandth one that gets you.
R.A.L., why won't you write me back?