Recently, I received the following email from a person who missed a meeting with me:
Sooooo sorry. I wish you would have called. I would have scrambled out there or met you in Port or Cedarberg or ... ?
Unfortunately, last Wednesday, my phone wouldn't quit cycling on and off. I went two days without a phone and then when they downloaded my backups, it appears that any changes I made on Monday or Tuesday of that week didn't transfer over.
Last night I got an e-mail reminder of a meeting I have on Friday and another email for an April 29 meeting. Thank goodness, because neither had made the transfer. I am of course concerned that something else is missing and I hate having wasted your time.
I am in the midst of the (omission for privacy) grant this week and wonder what your schedule is like next week or this weekend?
So very sorry,
(Person who shall remain nameless)
The e-mail caught me at a bad time.
Two days earlier, I drove to Milwaukee for an afternoon meeting. The "coordinator" was supposed to have assembled a group of fifteen participants. When I appeared, he went into semi-shock then pulled out his "electronic communication device" showing a blank screen, meaning nothing scheduled for the day.
Fortunately, at that moment, two colleagues also arrived for the meeting. They saved me from looking like a crazy person.
Meanwhile the coordinator scrambled to track down the people who were supposed to be there. Only half made the meeting. We started late. All of them should have been there on time and ready to go.
Question: Should I have called in advance to remind these people of meetings we had mutually scheduled?
Both of these digital dependent people used their reliance on technology as an excuse. Glitch-prone technology is a key reason why I use a pocket calendar — no batteries, no power outages, no on-and-off switch, no lost data (unless I lose it — never have); plus it's not tied to my telephone or provider, or the internet, and it is also useful at tax time in several ways.
I consider the aviation industry to be a pretty savvy source of information on reliable technologies and sound procedures. Many newer airplanes have what are called "glass panels," meaning electronic displays of key flight data like yaw, pitch, heading, relationship to the horizon, altitude, speed, GPS, fuel, etc. It is vital information to know if, for example, you fly into a cloud.
But they also have what are known as "steam gauges," control panel instruments that do not rely on an electrical system.
Here's why: They are reliable!
Older aircraft built prior to the computer chip, have steam gauges exclusively, unless they have been "upgraded."
By the way, steam gauges do not actually rely upon "steam," rather they are powered by vacuum generated by a functioning engine or engines. But don’t assume pilots call them "steam gauges" as a denigration of older technology. Most actually prefer having the redundancy of a time-tested alternative system.
I’m not a Luddite. I like technology. I was the first person in the office to have and use a desktop computer. Setting up spreadsheets convinced me I could write formulas — until that time I thought I was math challenged. Not so, it turns out.
Fuel injection, solar power and automated computer back-up systems are also high on my list of cool developments. Digital photography and recording are miraculous. I am into all of it.
But I don’t like being someone else’s steam gauge. Except for the cognitively challenged and young kids, I think we each should be responsible for our own agenda. Expecting me to remind others about scheduled meetings isn’t likely to happen.