There is a definite chill to the air this morning and as I sit here I am half a mind to go and get a jumper but that feels a bit defeatist, it may be September but I feel I should still be able to wear my shorts and t-shirt combination. I was looking at our Victoria plum tree this morning whilst eating my cereal at the kitchen table. I felt a bit sad because its energy is nearly spent. The plums are ripe and need to be picked but there are too many for us, so the majority of the fruit still hangs on the tree going mouldy or waiting to fall to earth to provide nourishment for the grass. The tree’s leaves are looking rather tired too, yellow and speckle on the edges, tatty and torn; Autumn seems to be coming too soon.
Against this backdrop, I am also aware that nobody has texted this morning to see if the group wants to go out for a ride. This is unusual and I wonder if I am missing out on some information given out last week when I didn’t go because I was returning the hire car. My wife and I do our usual morning tidy, though today I walked into the kitchen to find my wife had already started; this is also unusual because normally we’d discuss what is going to be done. Things get tidied and time passes; still no text. I decide to send out a text myself even though I would rather not. Why not? I guess part of my reluctance is because by initiating the communication, I become the hub for sorting the ride out. Sometimes this can involve people have conflicting needs which need a solution if we are all to get out on our bikes and experience suggests that the initiator needs to make those decisions. Decision making is not my forte. I think the other issue is what to do if people don’t answer their text message, there is always a part of me that feels rejected by this even though I know I shouldn’t.
There is an expectation of instant communication today which I think is unhelpful. Emails are sent with the expectation that they will arrive and be responded to within the day; text messages are sent with the expectation that they will be received and responded to immediately. I used to be an avid email watcher. I would look at my inboxes several times a day and each time feel disappointment if I didn’t get a new email. With the rise of marketing emails though I think I started to reduce the number of times I looked for new email. Nowadays a day can easily go by without me opening my email program, and even when I do I skim the subject titles and sender names and unless something grabs my attention I will close the program down again. It takes a conscious effort on my part to read and delete any unwanted messages so it doesn’t always gets done and then I can get blasé about even reading the email subjects as the numbers of unread messages built up.
My last meltdown involved lost emails. I received a follow up email (although I didn’t realise it at the time though I did feel something was missing) telling me an attached M email had no made it through. I had assume our automatic filtering (for sexually themed spam) had deleted it by mistake. This seemed to be case but it didn’t quite hang together. The first email (I’ll call that the D email) that I didn’t receive mentioned the three emails that had gone missing. The person who sent both D and M emails assumed I had received both of them when I only got the second one. When I mentioned that the M email seemed unclear, my colleague referred to the D email which I realised I hadn’t received. At this point we seemed to get locked into saying the same things and I felt that my colleague wasn’t listening to what I was saying. I felt like I was being blamed for the missing emails and I was expected to sort this out. I started to feel overwhelmed, became angry and swore. I was unable to see what was going on. I fixated on getting a jumper (which I had decided I didn’t need earlier) and left the room, found my jumper, looked out of the window to calm down and eventually put my jumper on.
As I sit here I still feel the pain and shame of getting angry, of losing my mind and my control. I hate being like that, I hate upsetting my colleague and yet I unable to help myself when it happens. The only way out is to escape the situation to find somewhere peaceful and calm; the watch the wind in the trees. I want to avoid situations like these by trying to identify the underlying assumptions we missed and learning from them. It isn’t so easy for my colleague, he is upset that I got angry and stormed out, he needs to know this behaviour won’t happen again.
I wish I could say my outburst won’t happen again, but I know it will. There will be another stressful moment when I feel unjustly persecuted and unable to provide the answer people are looking for, I will feel not listened to, and I will become angry. I wonder if I can use the swearing as a red flag? Am I still able to consciously decide to stop talking at the point when I start swearing? Possibly. I am afraid to find out.
With emotions soothed I can look back at what started the accusations. I guess the situation of missing emails was compounded by the reporting of the problem disappearing too. The context was lost. There is also an application deadline for an important job role at work today and the expectation is that applications will be emailed in so losing emails only adds to the strain of the situation. I had assumed the email filters were responsible but that doesn’t appear to be the case on further investigation, so accusing my colleague of not looking properly was unfair too.
The hoover is going on in the background and I notice that my scratching has just drawn blood. Typing and thinking is becoming too difficult. Suddenly the hoover stops!
My final conclusion about the emails is that at some point an email server failed and the messages just got lost. I know that seems outrageous to some people but it can still happen; sometimes IT people are left with switching the computer off, rebooting it and hoping that the problem won’t happen again. We have an expectation that emails and text messages always get through, but sometimes they don’t and I think we need to remember that. I also think that if I am feeling a bit cold then it is better to get the jumper right away. Autumn comes whether I like it or not.