So halleluljah for Hotmail!
Recently something ocurred though, which, I have to confess, has left me somewhat perplexed and I'm not talking about Judy Murray's continued presence in Strictly Come Dancing. I refer to a series of e-mails twixt myself and a lady I shall call Miss Interpret.
It all started with an e-mail I sent to the good lady asking for assistance with my book. The lady had had a small, but significant role in Pironi's life. The reply came back almost immediatey to the effect of how she'd be very happy to help, but could I wait until after the weekend as she was a little busy? No problem at all.
I waited and waited, Two, three, four weeks passed by and not a word.
After five weeks, I sent a short e-mail asking if she was still in a position to help.
I waited again, Two, three weeks went by without a reply. By this time I was, I have to confess again, rather mystified and a wee bit suspicious too.
Was Miss Interpret deliberately avoiding contact? If so why? Did she and her organisation have somethng to hide?
"Silence speaks volumes" I said in a short e-mail sent yesterday, my last to her or so I intended. Imagine my surprise when I received an immediate response! A response from the lady who had, as far as I could make out, vanished from the face of the earth and had been incommunicado for these past eight weeks.
She berated me for the "aggressive" tone of my e-mail and further suggested it was apparent that I no longer needed her help - help which she was at some pains to tell me would have included original documentation and photographs. Grrr...I had been within touching distance of this great prize, but hadn't realised it. Or had I?
And so I am left puzzled. Nay I am perplexed. If Miss Interpret had indeed intended providing this bountiful and munificent help, then why had she not replied to my previous e-mail of three weeks earlier? A short mail to the effect of I'm busy, but will be in touch would have been more than suficient.
All this got me thinking about the etiquette of e-mails. What's the correct response, I mused, if no reply is forthcoming to an e-mail? Should one assume:
a) The recipient has received your mail, but does not intend replying?
b) The recipient has received your mail, but will reply at an unspecified future date?
c) The recipient has not opened e-mails for the past two months, but will reply whenever he/she finds time to do so?
In the meantime, is it prudent for the sender to do a progress check in the form of a short reminder e-mail? If so, when does a progress check become irksome to the recipient?
My own way of handling such situations is very simple. Mail which is not junk is always acknowledged within a day or two, even if that acknowledgment is a polite "No thank-you."
I never leave mails hanging in the air for week after week after week. While waiting weeks or months for a reply to a letter sent pre-Internet would have been quite acceptable, in this age of instant communication, there's simply no excuse. At best it's disrepsectful, at worst downright arrogant.
And Miss Interpret? I don't expect I'll hear from her again.
Not unless I send an e-mail that piques her. Then I'll get an immediate response....