Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Go Bang A Log

I often find myself in meetings or other discussions where the participants get onto the topic of communicating quickly with more members of the group or larger community (think, for example, church committees trying to get info out to the larger congregation on short notice).

The usual solution proposed is some variant of a phone tree. Make a chart, and each person calls two others until everyone is informed about whatever's going on. Or, some enthusiastic individual volunteers to be the designated dialer, calling everyone themselves.

At this point, I usually recommend supplementing (not supplanting, although that seems to be how my hearers always interpret the suggestion) the telephone method with a mass e-mail. It's easy enough to define a mailing list in any mail client I've ever tried, and I personally would much rather get an e-mail than a phone call (and I'm far likelier to read the e-mail in a reasonable timeframe than to be available to take the call).

At this point, I invariably get the same reaction. Someone (always a woman - that may be significant, but I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole just now) gives me a tight-lipped smile and says in as condescending a tone as they can manage, "Not everyone has e-mail, you know."

At this point I usually withdraw the suggestion and apologize for having brought it up. Sometimes, if the tone wasn't as condescending as it usually is, I'll try to wedge in an explanation that I wasn't suggesting eliminating the phone calls, but bringing in an additional method.

I now have a response when the tone is just a little too condescending for my liking, as well. I've only actually used it a very few times, but I'm sure it'll be back (I've added it to my ongoing repertoire):

"When the primary means of long-distance communication changed from banging rocks against logs to smoke signals, I'm sure there were a few log-bangers saying, 'But not everyone has access to fire!' " (Say those last seven words in as whiny a tone as you can muster without wanting to slap yourself.)

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a plastic radius, with free bonus plastic ulna at no extra charge!


Janis said...

Zirbert, you make me laugh until I cry. Thank you.

HomeSchooler said...

Hows-about we e-mail those who have e-mail and phone those who have phones??? That took a long time to come up with, but it might be a reasonable solution!!!

For that matter, does everyone have phones? I know people who don't have phones. Although, in this technological age, I've been stared at like some kind of a freak for actually needing to use a payphone (imagine, not having a cell phone - I am from the stone age!), I really do know folks who don't have either a home or cell phone. Maybe we should all go back to writing letters then? Quaint idea, huh?