24 September 2013

Speaking in Code

So here's what I don't get (let's say, "something else" that I don't get):

A friend invites me to accompany her to an event. I accept the invitation. The event is scheduled for two or three weeks from the day the invitation is extended. She will pick me up at a specified hour.

"Thank you," I say as type the details into Google calendar.

"You're welcome," she responds. "Now, call me two days before to remind me."


"Oh, are you thinking you may change your mind about going?"

"No, no. I'm definitely going. I wouldn't miss it for anything. I just need you to remind me a couple of days before."

Perhaps, dear reader, this all makes sense to you. So let me explain my confusion.

First, why does one need a reminder to attend something they are "definitely going" to?

Second, doesn't the request for reminder rely on me remembering to remind myself to remind you? Doesn't that sound a little crazy?

Third, how does my friend remember everything else in her life? Does she have a devoted cadre of Reminders who call or email or text her all day to remember all the things she needs to remember? Or are there certain kinds of appointments
that she forgets?

Fourth, what precludes her employing Google Calendar or her "smart" phone or any of the other scheduling technology currently available to set her own reminder? Does she not have a desk calendar?

This does not just happen with social acquaintances. Yesterday I drove to the only VW mechanic in Holly Springs and explained a little "thing" that's happening with the car. I asked if he could fix it today. He said he thought he could and asked me to write down what I'd just said. I complied and handed it to him. He said "OK. I'll come down and get your car at 9:30 tomorrow morning." I thanked him and turned to go.

"Now, just call me about 9 in the morning to remind me," he added. It is now 11:18. I haven't called him. I haven't seen him. The car is still sitting in the driveway.

A few weeks ago we had the dryer serviced. I mentioned we occasionally had "stinky" water from the bathroom sink. The mechanic said he knew what caused it and would come back the following week to address the issue. "Just give me a call on Monday to remind me," he said as he left.

I called him on Monday, got his answering machine, and left a message. "This is Alex Mercedes calling to remind you that you are coming to fix our stinky water this week." That was a month ago. I haven't seen him since.

I understand that in this town, where there is serious shortage of skilled tradesmen, there is less pressure to apply business practices that are commonplace elsewhere, like, using a calendar to schedule appointments, for example. When you're the only guy in town who fixes VWs, folks have few alternatives to doing business with you.

Still, I'm confused. Apparently, even if I provide the reminder, there's no
guarantee you'll come through. And if you know I have no other options, why ask me to remind you? Why add that layer of complexity to the proceedings? Why make me work that hard?

If you want the business, isn't it on you to do what you need to to secure it? If you invite me to accompany you somewhere and your invitation is sincere, isn't your sincerity sufficient motivation to make you honor the invitation?

It's a strange practice. I scratch my head and, officially, move on. I'm implementing my own strange practice, effective today: I no longer provide reminders to remember. It's off the menu.

But might I interest you in one of my other fine products?