WARNING: This post contains a film script, a still image of a text message flying through the air, and my zero tolerance policy for a surging salutation trend used in email. I say this now only because the part about when my phone is stuck under the driver’s seat is rather long, but if you keep reading, you’ll learn a lot about HOW TO REACH ME.
The best way to reach me these days is by text. It’s as close to an instantaneous way of getting in touch as being physically present, grabbing my attention, and then showing me a poster with words on it.
The beauty of the text is how it is delivered right to my phone, which is almost always in a pants, shirt, or jacket pocket or on my desk or on the kitchen counter or over the river or in my bag or through the woods. The phone is rarely anywhere else.
So if you text me, your transmission of characters will hurl through the wires and air until it hits my phone which will be located in one of those places.
One thing is for sure: there is a sixty-four percent chance I will get your text right away. And if you’re trying to reach me, those are pretty good odds that you’ll actually accomplish your goal.
TEXT: Active vs. Passive
When I drive or am walking in a parking lot or staring in a trance at the screws in Home Depot aisle 12 – three things I did today – I can’t guarantee I will see your text as soon as you send it.
Okay. I will most likely see your text, but I won’t always think to reply immediately. In other words, all too often I will not actively see your text. Instead I will passively see your text.
I forget texts I receive passively. I forget them as soon as I passively view them.
For instance, if you text:
“Can you meet up at 7pm?”
and I passively read it, I simply will not respond to you because it’s already gone from my memory. Just like that.
Let’s say the next day you see me and ask, “Didn’t you get my text?”
And I say “Oh yeah, I meant to write back.”
What should be said in situations like this one is “Oh yeah, I passively saw your text which means I completely forgot about it and therefore failed to respond.”
I share this with you so you will know how to react when confronted in this way. Let’s be more honest with one another.
So when texting me, take into account whether I am actively or passively seeing your text. You’ve gotta time it just right. Timing is everything.
When actively texting, I tend to like to have the last word. For example, you write me, I write back, you write, I write, etc., until I write and then you don’t write back. I always have something to say to close it out, even if you’ve made it clear the conversation has ended. This isn’t intentional. It’s just me passive aggressively wanting to have the last word. But it’s something I’ve noticed about myself and I have little intention of actively changing.
TEXT: The Little Door Handle Thingy Area That Doesn’t Have a Name
I now turn to the little door handle thingy area that doesn’t have a name. It’s the part you grab when you’re closing the car door. I’ve owned several cars and I think it’s been in most of them except, I think, for one or two.
The little door handle thingy area that doesn’t have a name is the place wherein resides my phone when I am in the car or sometimes when I’m not and I forgot to take it out with me. It is also the place wherein resides my wife’s bobby pin which has been there for years. It’s the same place wherein my phone doesn’t quite reside comfortably so if I open the car door too quickly the phone may fall to the pavement below and crack and need a screen replacement. In addition to the little door handle thingy area that doesn’t have a name, the phone also finds itself in the cup holder or seat or sometimes my lap. The phone is rarely anywhere else.
And how about this? Brace yourself because I’m about to explain the most frustratingly frustrating problem I have ever encountered in every car I have ever owned in my entire life since I’ve owned a cell phone. But first, this brief message from our sponsors:
TEXT: Phone Under Driver’s Seat
Okay, so you try to reach me, but what if I can’t reach the phone? Has your phone, like mine, ever fallen under the driver’s seat?
When the phone is under the driver’s seat, monumental effort is required to retrieve it. I try to slip my hand in the tight areas on either side of the seat or even underneath the seat but there is hardly enough space to get in more than a few fingers. Even then, I can only reach underneath the driver’s seat up to my second knuckle.
Since the phone is impossible to reach while driving, I have to park the car in a safe area (see Hollywood script below for why this is important), get out of the car, kneel on the ground, and twist and contort unnaturally with head under steering wheel trying to see the phone in order to get my hands to the right place underneath the driver’s seat – the place with the best chance of retrieving my phone. And I have to do all these things AT THE SAME TIME.
I am not a multitasker, even though I put that on my réśúmé (while patting my head with one hand and rubbing my stomach in circular motions with the other) early in my career because that’s what everyone was doing at the time (writing réśúméś while patting their heads with one hand and rubbing their stomachs in circular motions with the other).
I’ve learned so much since then, just one thing at a time.
But yeah, dropping the phone under the driver’s seat……..
It’s frustrating. It’s like everything going dark. My phone = my life.
So here I find myself searching for my phone, my temples pressed firmly against the bottom of my steering wheel, my eyes straining to look sideways but not being able to look sideways enough, my hand probing as much as I can underneath my car seat, when all of a sudden, my mind tricks me into thinking the tips of my fingers have discovered something resembling a phone, and instead of grasping my impossible-to-reach phone, I find relics from my children’s past. It’s like a precious time capsule of an event in history when my kids were with me in the car. The object may have found it’s way there during an outing last week or it could have been from an October 2nd three years ago.
But no. Nothing precious is found. Instead of finding sweet reminders of memories gone by, it’s the crushed Happy Meal toy part or the perfectly preserved Skittle.
Dropping my phone under the driver’s seat would make for a suspenseful film scene. Imagine the protagonist who needs his phone during a high stakes situation – let’s say a hungry prison escapee happens to see this guy – let’s call him Josh – searching for his phone, which has fallen under the driver’s seat, à la this short film:
What I’m trying to say is if you need to reach me, I need to be able to reach my phone.
TEXTING EXCEPTIONS (and my self esteem in meetings)
Sometimes a text can also slip through the cracks, as it were, like when I’m driving and I get your text and can’t break the California hands free law at that given moment and I think of what to write back but then get distracted by turns that make it hard to text or brake lights that interrupt my text, or pedestrians that give me that look when I almost run over them while texting.
Still, texting is by far the best way to reach me, except when I’m in a meeting and haven’t turned on vibrate – no, change that. Getting texts during a meeting makes others think “Wow, Josh must be working hard” as the phone sings its text tune every other minute. “I’ll turn it on mute,” I say to them. Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz… and they all look on amazed that I have someone texting me. Buzz, buzz. “Josh is getting another text. He gets so many texts! He must have a lot going on right now.”
In the times of day that I’m not near my phone, moments which have been known to happen, texting is not the best way to reach me. In that case, it’s better to call.
Since I was just on the topic of texts in meetings, I find it funny how a call during a meeting is less likely to leave an impression of importance than a text. Anyone can call a phone: telemarketers, survey takers, those incredibly effective fraternal order of police that get me every time –
——————-But not just anyone can text.
There is still a lot more to say. Like when AT&T texts me or I get the unusual spam texts about free cruises or the mis-directed texts in other languages with tons of emoji and how depressing that is.
So much more to say. But let’s move on.
Like I said, if you need to reach me, sometimes a call is better than a text. Calls can actually be quite effective. Like when it’s an emergency, you could call. I may not pick up the first time and I may not see your text right away, but if you call and hang up then call and hang up and then call again I will think, “Oh wait, this must be important. Hold on, people around me, I need to get this call.”
Most of the time, however, it’s not an emergency. In fact, I can think of maybe two or three emergency-level calls in my entire lifetime, and they weren’t really emergency-level, though they were somewhat in that direction.
Most of the time, it can wait. Most of the time, just a regular call is okay. Except I prefer urgent calls more than regular calls. Although sometimes a regular call is better than an urgent call.
There’s nothing as bad as an urgent call that ruins a relaxing moment. There’s nothing worse than a regular call that ruins what I hoped would be an urgent moment.
I pick up calls maybe 40% of the time. I rarely pick up if I don’t know the number.
And oh, I should clarify, when I say “phone” I mean my cell phone.
I have two cell phones, and I don’t care which one you call. One is for work and the other is personal. While there is a wall of separation between both phones, where one does not infringe upon the rights of the other, there are times when one must be used for the other purpose and vice versa, but it usually works itself out in the end.
One more thing: If you are a telemarketer, don’t call my cell phone.
If you are a telemarketer, it’s best to reach me by home phone. This section is about my home phone which now is limited to telemarketing calls, only. We feel it’s important to keep an open line of communication between our family and the telemarketing industry. I feel a sort of bond with the telemarketing industry, having spent valuable time in my career working within it, once selling Martha Stewart subscriptions about a day after she had been indicted for securities fraud. While I did ultimately quit (after two and a half hours), I feel tremendous empathy for telemarketers, so they are always welcome to my home, through my home phone.
There have been ample articles in recent years discussing the death of voice mail. Apparently, not many people check voice mail anymore. I happen to be one of the few who still checks his voice mail as soon as I can retrieve it. I happen to enjoy voice mail. I may not listen to it all the way through if I’m distracted, so please enunciate and ensure you are leaving the message indoors – away from a noisy environment – using a landline or a cell phone with a strong signal and getting out your main idea in the first four or five seconds of the message. Don’t just say, “Hi, it’s so and so, call me back.” Tell me why you are leaving the message. Like you, I’m not a fan of obscure voice mails.
I need to know a little about why you called before I decide if and when I should call you back.
If you can’t reach me by any phone and it’s not an emergency, then email is best. Emails should follow certain guidelines. Not too short, not too long. I appreciate decent spelling and grammar. A little thought and care goes a long way. I have a hard time with emails that address me but don’t use any punctuation after my name in the salutation, like this:
In the above case, see how my name just hangs there? It’s just “Josh” with nothing holding it up. Please avoid the hanging salutation with no punctuation after the name. You should include a comma or colon or hyphen(s) following my name to support it up there at the beginning of your note and not allow it to float alone like that.
I can get a little picky about the emails I receive. In other words, I’m judging you by the content of your emails to me. Just don’t try to sound smarter than me in an email, because then I won’t judge you, I’ll judge myself and realize how much dumber I am than you.
Sometimes email doesn’t work and texting can be too slow. If you need to have a quick, fast conversation over instant messaging, I’ve been enjoying Facebook’s Messenger. It’s a quick way to get back to me and I like the big thumbs up feature. When you press and hold down the thumbs up emoji, it gets bigger and bigger. That’s cool to use sometimes – with moderation, of course. Nice work on the blue thumb, Zuck!
I also use Skype messenger which is good for IMs, especially if I am sharing attachments from a laptop or desktop, which Facebook Messenger isn’t that good at. Not so easy to do from a phone. I reserve Skype video for business and family calls, though it is not that reliable, especially on Sundays and holidays.
“To skype” has become a verb. Think about that for a moment. It’s an odd word. A really odd word. If the Internet didn’t exist and a friend said “let’s skype,” what would you think it meant? To me, it sounds like a fishing expedition or a game one might play in the backyard of an Eastern European family’s BBQ.
Barbecue is a weird word.
In fact, “word” is a weird word.
Google Hangouts is great as well, both the video and chat features. You can reach me there except be aware of the 5% chance I will get back to you (unless we initiate the video or chat at the same time (assuming the call goes through (often it doesn’t (but sometimes it does (does not (does too (does not (does too (does not (etc…))))))))).
I don’t use Snapchat but I do use Twitter. Don’t try to start a conversation with me on Twitter, but do favorite and retweet often. I mean, you can always try to start a conversation. It’s the debates that don’t work. 140 character debates are like — well, they’re really fun — but don’t get me sucked into one because I may obsess over it for too long and get distracted from what I was doing before it got super fun. In other words, don’t take advantage of my lack of self control when Twitter Debating.
FACEBOOK POSTS & INSTAGRAM INSTAGRAMS
I can’t think of a way to reach me on Instagram other than to share a photo with me you think will send me some sort of message. Most likely I won’t understand unless words are attached to the image, which is easier to do on its ad-heavy sister-site, Facebook. I don’t react well when I’m tagged in pictures on either site. You can always tag me in a photo, just use caution when you do because there’s a chance I don’t want to be tagged at all. In fact, there’s always a good chance I don’t want to be tagged at all. If I want to be tagged, I will tag myself. Please don’t tag me. Unless you think I’d like to be tagged. But chances are, I won’t, unless I do.
FaceTime can be useful if you’re not comfortable with Hangouts, Skype, Messenger, or Twitter and you have an Apple device. The reception isn’t as clear and if we don’t know each other well, an unscheduled FaceTime call from you will be a tad awkward and I will ignore it and when we next see one another in person I will pretend I never saw it. If I’m calling you on FaceTime and we haven’t planned the call beforehand, chances are it’s my kids calling you on accident. That’s happened. Mostly to the names that start with “A.”
JOSHROLPH.COM & JOSHPODCAST.COM
And you can always comment on a blog post. That makes me feel good. I usually don’t respond because I’m not sure you’ll check back but on occasion I will respond if I’m feeling especially friendly. If I don’t it’s because your comment either didn’t require a response or I didn’t know how to respond back to you. I may have tried to reply to your comment once, twice, or many times spending a few hours writing, editing, writing, drafting, erasing, and then ultimately writing “thanks!” It’s hard to write, especially when you’re not sure what to say. And a lot of times I just don’t know what to say after practicing a few dozen things to say.
So I have this little device on my wrist that other people with the same device can send heartbeats and draw pictures and send animated emoji and hearts. Except don’t do it. There is a certain middle-school-yearbook feeling to these messages. Unless you knew me in middle school, please don’t “Apple Watch” me.
The other way to reach me is to see me in person. This could be at work, at my home, or at a meeting or event. You could reach me in the store but that would be an unplanned-reaching-me. In any case, in-person reaches are the way people reached each other for thousands of years before phones, texts and blogs.
What is “reaching me,” anyway? Is it as simple as simply getting my attention? Or is it more than that? When I’m “reached” is it possible that I don’t think I’ve been reached, or that I am not even aware of the reaching? Could it be that I think I’ve been reached when I haven’t?
To ask these questions, am I reaching?
Anyway, if you want to know the best way to reach me, I would really appreciate it if you please consulted this simple guide first.
And if you want to do something different, next time you see me, hold a poster board in front of me with the words you want to say. Just don’t be alarmed if I take a picture of it on my phone to read later because at that given moment, it might not be the best way to reach me.