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Column: Paint missed appointments with red for embarrassment

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It began with a simple phone call to my friend Auri, a computer geek. I asked for help with my very successful website, which right now is attracting up to three visitors a month.

To have a strong online presence, you have to spend several hours a day using social media, like Facebooking, tweeting and updating your blog. This means cutting yourself off from the outside world. But that’s the price you pay for being social.

Auri and I decided to meet for coffee. I got out my trusty mini legal pad and wrote down the time and date. Then I put a sticky note on my bathroom mirror. At my age, I know I will see it there several times the night before, reminding me of any early-morning obligations.

This system seldom fails, although one day I accidentally grabbed a list from the previous day and started repeating everything on it. I’m glad I have an honest barber.

Auri and I set the time for 9 a.m. the following Tuesday at Starbucks. Auri entered our engagement on his Google calendar, which I soon discovered automatically synched to my AOL calendar, telling me the time and location of the appointment. I don’t like it when other people tell me where to go, but that was happening way before computers.

A minute after our call, a “meeting alert” magically appeared on my computer screen. The message suggested I pick a color for this entry to make it stand out and distinguish it from other appointments on my calendar, except I didn’t have any. I had no idea what color a morning at Starbucks should be.

Brown seemed appropriate for morning java, but I wanted something more festive. Mary Ellen suggested taupe or mauve. I told her I wanted the color to reflect the importance of our get-together, not match our bedspread. I went with red.

The following morning, I got an “Invitation Update” in my email as well as on my cellphone. It was a request by Auri to change the time of our Tuesday breakfast from 9 to 8:30 a.m. I agreed to the new time, telling him in a comment box that I was changing the color of our meeting from red to green. Although I’m sure this didn’t matter to Auri, the Department of Homeland Security was probably relieved.

Included with the update was a link to MapQuest, informing me how long it would take to get to Starbucks from my house, which was either 3 minutes away, 4 minutes away, 7 minutes away or 8 minutes away, depending on which Starbucks in my neighborhood I was going to.

On Tuesday morning, I got another cellphone alert (an annoying ding) that my breakfast meeting was in half an hour. Then at 8:15, I was dinged again, warning that I only had 15 minutes to make it on time. I rushed out the door, afraid that if I were late, news of my tardiness would go viral.

I reached Starbucks at 8:25. Auri had not arrived yet. I bought a coffee and waited. And waited. I called his cellphone at 9 a.m. He answered right away. “Auri, where are you? I’m at Starbucks on 82nd,” I said. “Oh my gosh, was that today?”

Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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