We're rushing out the door to catch a flight when I get the bright
idea to do what every sentient human and probably a few primates
did years ago: program my computer to send an autoreply saying I am
out of town.
I had not ever done it because I had not felt the need. It is just
as easy to check my e-mail at airports, hotels, cybercafes,
friends' houses, grocery stores, gas stations, hospital waiting
rooms, jail, etc. If that doesn't work, I try something truly
different: the telephone.
Yet, for some reason, on this particular morning, I dreamed up the
aforementioned bright idea. How hard can it be? I ask
myself. Everybody does it.
But I have this tiny voice in the back of my head that repeats,
over and over, Bright ideas are bad. Leave well enough alone.
Don't change. You'll only mess things up. Bright ideas are bad.
Leave well enough alone. Don't change. You'll only mess things up.
Meanwhile, my rational self strides into the room like John Wayne
and says, real confident-like: What are ya gonna do, be a
yella-belly? Install the goldarn thing. Screwing up autoresponse is
impossible, pilgrim. Everybody has autoresponse. Bright ideas are
good. Go ahead - take a shot!
I listen to John Wayne Voice for two reasons. One, because it is
John Wayne. Two, because I had become jealous of autorepliers.
What were they doing that was so important or so great that they
couldn't get their e-mail? Leslie Notthere is out of the office
and in Tahiti enjoying sun, surf, and international romance. She
will return your e-mail when her tan wears off. Steven Goneaway is
out of the office on extremely important but highly classified
business. He will get back to you when his mission is
I wanted to have too great a time or be too important to be
bothered by e-mail. I wanted autoreply.