“I tell you, Kid, I’ve had it up to here with technology,” said my friend Karl, holding his hand up in line with his forehead. It was a gesture I was familiar with as my mom had said this very thing to me on many occasions when I was a kid.
Really? I said. Looks like you can spare a few inches there, then. (That was not something I ever said to my mom.)
“Can it, Kid,” he growled. “I mean, I’m sick of receiving all these automated notifications from people who want to make sure I don’t miss their precious meetings or whatever.”
That’s a weird thing to be upset about. What’s the problem?
“I was invited to be on this guy’s podcast this past Thursday. He sent me a link to a website to pick a time that worked for us, which I did. Simple enough, right? Well, apparently he set up some kind of automated reminder campaign to make sure that I remembered to show up for our appointment.”
We were at our favorite sports pub, The Press Box, for a late-night dinner to watch the US Women’s National Team take on The Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup. It was an exciting match that would ultimately end in a disappointing tie.
That’s not so bad, I said. People often forget their appointments, or they just don’t show up. I remember once, several years ago, I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee, but he forgot about it. But if I had just sent him an email saying, ‘Are we still on tomorrow?’ I could have made sure he didn’t forget.
“That’s irritating. Did you blast the guy?”
No, he apologized and it was fine.
“You’re too nice sometimes.”
What’s funny is that a month later, he griped on social media about someone who had sent him a reminder about their upcoming meeting. He said, ‘I’m a grown man, I don’t need anyone to remind me about a meeting.’
So I reminded him about the meeting of ours that he had forgotten and he stopped griping about the other guy. And I still don’t think it hurts to send the occasional reminder.
“Occasional?” Karl half-shouted. “Oh, it would have been great if it would have been occasional.”
He gestured to Tammy, our bartender, and asked for two more beers. Karl was drinking a Sam Adams to support the American team, but I had secretly ordered a Grolsch to celebrate my Dutch heritage. (I was still supporting the Americans though!)
Karl continued, “I received the first email reminder exactly seven days before I was supposed to be on the podcast. Not a big deal. It was helpful, and I deleted it. But I appreciated it because it had slipped my mind.”
That’s nice, I said. That makes sense.
“The second one came over the weekend,” Karl said. “Completely unnecessary, since I wasn’t thinking about anything work-related over the weekend.”
Why should you? Everyone needs a break.
“The third one came the day before the podcast. The fourth one—”
Fourth one? I shouted. USA’s team captain Lindsay Horan sent a screaming header into the back of the goal at that exact moment so my shout was drowned out.
We waited until the crowd settle back down. “Yes, the fourth one. It came the morning of the podcast.”
Wow, four’s… that’s… well, that’s quite a lot.
“That doesn’t include all the text messages either.”
You got text messages? I shouted again. People nearby turned to see what I was shouting about.
“Oh, yeah. I got a text that Monday, and another one the night before the podcast, and then a third one a few hours before the podcast.”
Jeez, that sounds really excessive, I said. I wouldn’t think it would be that necessary to send so many reminders.
“You’re missing the most important point, though, Kid.”
“Ask me how the podcast was.”
I took a bite of hamburger and washed it down with a drink of my Grolsch, just to make him wait. How was the podcast? I finally asked.
“I don’t know. He canceled 45 minutes before the call.”
HE CANCELED?! I hollered. Are you serious? That’s terrible! He sends you all of those reminders to make sure you don’t forget and then he doesn’t show up himself? What was his excuse? I demanded.
“I don’t know. The appointment just disappeared from my calendar and it got reposted for the following Monday. He never said a word about it. No apologies, no excuses, no email about ‘hey, something came up.’ Just a jillion reminders and then he ghosted me.”
That’s terrible, I said. Are you still going to do the interview?
“Eh, why not? I don’t have anything better to do that day.”
Tammy dropped our bill off at the bar and said, “Whenever you guys are ready.”
It’s your turn to pay, I told Karl. I paid last time.
“Are you sure? I don’t remember.”
Absolutely. I sent you a reminder.