Thursday, December 15, 2016

Please don't call me at 5:49 a.m.

I work weird hours, often getting up well before dawn to write my pitches or do interviews. A lot of it depends on the news cycle: When a big story breaks, chances are I'll be setting my alarm a little - or a lot - earlier than usual.

Today was one of those days. Late yesterday the interwebs exploded after Yahoo announced hackers had stolen information from upwards of 1 billion accounts. You'll recall that just three months ago the company admitted a separate breach put data from 500 million user accounts in hackers' hands. It was a big story not just in tech, but everywhere.

My phone rang and my inbox overflowed all the way home from the office, and well into the evening. I booked a bunch of interviews for oh-dark-stupid, set my alarm for oh-dark-stupid-minus-30-minutes, then put my head down for a three-hour nap. Yes, I lead an incredibly glamorous life.

After the alarm launched me ot of bed, I tiptoed downstairs in my brightly colored and patterned jammies and worked the story from my home office. Then as the sun rose I headed into the real office (after putting on real clothes, of course) to officially join the 9-to-5 crowd. When I got to the office, I peeked at my phone to double-check that I hadn't missed anything along the way. There was a voicemail from 5:49 a.m. that I rather naively figured was from one of my producers. My eyebrows almost hit the roof when I listened to it.

It wasn't from a producer. It was from a complete stranger. From Montreal. She heard I was going to be on the radio there, and CALLED me.

At 5:49 a.m.

Because she couldn't log into her Yahoo account.

And asked me to call her as soon as possible.

Let's take a breath, shall we? In what world would ANYONE call a COMPLETE STRANGER before the freaking CRACK OF DAWN because she's having trouble logging into her webmail account?

Did I miss a memo somewhere? Have I been subscribing to now-obsolete conventions of what is and is not considered acceptable messaging behavior? Did it suddenly become OK to call anyone - let alone someone you've never met - after 11 p.m. or before 9 a.m.? Do we not know how to send email or text messages instead?

Since when is your need to read the Best Buy flyer in your inbox more important than my need to, oh I don't know, sleep or otherwise not have my phone go off in the middle of the night? Seriously, what am I missing here?

With apologies to this boundary-challenged individual, the only people who are calling me at that hour are folks who are either directly related to me or are such close friends that they may as well be related to me. And the only reason they'd be calling me is because somebody died. Full stop.

As it turned out, I was on-air when the call hit my phone. I always turn on the Do Not Disturb setting before I do anything live, so it went straight to voicemail. If I hadn't been on-air, it would have gone off in my silent bedroom. Think of the fun we would have had if that had played out.

In the cold light of day, I listened to the full message, left by someone clearly agitated that she couldn't log into her Yahoo email account. I feel her pain - it sucks when technology doesn't work - but this is one message I won't be returning. I get dozens of phone calls, email messages, Facebook posts, tweets and text messages every week asking for tech assistance. I get that my role makes me a bit of a magnet for this kind of thing. I do what I can, but also have to draw some hard lines because if I say yes to everything then it'll quickly become a 24/7/365 thing.

Do I feel guilty? A bit. But at the same time, I'm not sure it's fair for me to be an always-on helpdesk for anyone who can't seem to get his/her technology to work.

There's a very hard line being drawn here. And a 5:49 a.m. phone call isn't going to change my mind anytime soon.

Your turn: How would you respond to a middle-of-the-night call from a stranger? Go nuts!

Related entries:


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Respond as in right at the moment? If so I wouldn't respond. I would wait a few hours and think logically
I don't know that I would verbally respond. I seem to communicate better in writing. Talking can be one emotional w/individuals.
Btw why did she choose u to help her w/yahoo? Just because u are up that time doesn't mean u are at her beck and call. Just sayin'

BloggerBob said...

Seeing that your phone # is listed on the site, I could see that happening. Although it is pretty gutsy to call someone out of the blue like that. Yet some people don't know how to control themselves... just because it is there doesn't mean they should use it.

You may wish to put up a phone# that goes right to voice mail as first filter.

I presume you know of the 'IT Crowd'. You could start off with 'Hello, IT'. 'Have you tried turning it off and on again?' 'Are you from the past? People still use Yahoo email?' "here is your solution... Dr. Google. Just sign up for Gmail. Or better yet, AOL.