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Five Routine Minutes: A Texting Problem

Last week, I found myself on the horns of a texting dilemma. I didn’t even know text messaging had horns.

It all started when my employer issued me a new cell phone.

Sadly, they did not arrange to transfer all my stored numbers to the new phone. I’ve remedied that gradually by storing numbers as my co-workers call me. This gradual method is the cause of my problem.

After work, I got a text message from a person who works for me. I know that much because of the way they addressed me. This person wanted me to know that they’d had a death in their family. The message told me how sad their family was at the loss and that they’d just learned of the passing of their loved one.

I felt terrible for them.

But there was a problem. All I had was the sender’s phone number. I’m sure that I must have had this person’s number in my old phone, but that phone is no more.

I sent back a very generic message of condolence, thinking their answer might clue me in to who I was texting with. The reply was not helpful.

That told me it wasn’t a wrong number, but I was no closer to figuring out who I was consoling. I thought of calling the number, but I’m so bad at identifying voices on the phone, I knew that could only lead to disaster. The person said they would be coming in to work for a few days before leaving for services for their loved one.

I returned to work. It would only be proper for me to say something encouraging to someone who suffered such a blow. I had no idea who I should be saying something encouraging to. Perhaps I should have said something generally, to everyone on the shift.

That didn’t seem like a good choice.

No one said anything. No one burst into tears. I talked to everyone on the shift when I got the chance and tossed out some general questions about how things were going for them.

Three days later, the mystery mourner stopped by my desk and spent a few minutes thanking me for my support.

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32 Comments on “Five Routine Minutes: A Texting Problem”

  1. yes, texting clearly has horns! I have no idea how I would have handled something like that.

    • omawarisan says:

      I hope you never have to, but I’d you do. If someone I don’t like ever has that problem, I want them to try the generic announcement. I’m curious how that would work out.

  2. “Where applicable” = fabuloso.

    I wonder if they make greeting cards for situations like this.

  3. Blogdramedy says:

    A textbook case of poor texting etiquette.

  4. Mendy K. says:

    Not to make light of the “situation” that prompted the text, but I had to let you know your post (and artwork) cracked me up. Truly enjoyed!

  5. Amy says:

    Don’t forget to change their name in your contacts list from “unknown sad employee” to their real name.

  6. Awkward! My Uncle called from his iPhone a few months back. When I answered, “Hello!” he was quiet for a minute. Then he responded, “Dammit, Siri! I said call KEN!!!” Even the smartest of smart phones… Just a little anecdote that has nothing to do with your post except the cell phone.

  7. There should honestly be a required texting course for everyone over the age of 25. One of the points of this course would be to never tell someone you’ve had a death in the family over text.

    • omawarisan says:

      You know, you’d be surprised how many people do that. I see it at work all the time. People text their family and say “I’m at Uncle Bob’s house with the police. We had to break in, he’s dead”.

  8. If no one burst into tears, they didn’t need the time off.

  9. Lenore Diane says:

    You’ve since updated your new phone with the name of the former mysterious mourner, yes? Carry on.

    • omawarisan says:

      Actually, while he was gone, they assigned him to a different supervisor. That’s what he gets for me not transferring his number into my new phone. Serves him right.

  10. Wendy says:

    Things happen to you, don’t they?

    • omawarisan says:

      You know, yes.

      I used to have a friend at work who pointed that out. I’d argue with her that it was just that I was observant. One day she piled a bunch of stories on me and pointed out that everyone has some things happen, but I had all of these things. She won.

      But I’m observant.

  11. Sherlock Holmes had nothing on you!

  12. […] glad you did. Here’s a link to his guide to calling in sick, and to one of my very favorites, dealing with anonymous grief.¬†Enjoy! And come visit. I’ll know if you didn’t. Well, not really, but it’s the […]


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