Once upon a time, I received an email from a company called Voyager Health. It was sent to me by mistake. I knew it wasn’t spam, because I was able to find the name of the person for whom it was originally intended. It was a simple case of data input error. They had apparently transposed two of the letters in the address from someone for whom the email was originally intended. Someone who would conceivably give a flying rat’s ass about Voyager Health.
I deleted it and moved on with my day. While I had every right to read the email, it wasn’t really any of my business. Several days later, my email icon was lit up again with another missive from the good people at Voyager Health. I scrolled to the bottom of the email and found the handy link to unsubscribe. I clicked it and followed the prompts to disconnect myself from these misguided folks with their good intentions.
After a few weeks, another email from Voyager Health popped up in my box. I scrolled to the bottom of the email and unsubscribed, hitting the “enter” button a little harder than necessary to let them know I meant business. My mind flashed briefly on the urban myth that the buttons on light poles for pedestrians to change the signal weren’t actually connected to anything - that they were just put there to give them something to do while the light took it’s sweet, standard time turning green.
Like an electronic bugger which I couldn’t flick of my finger, Voyager Health sent me yet another email. Convinced the unsubscribe button was far from functional, I chose to use one of the handy toll free numbers on the bottom of the page. I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but if you annoy me enough, my inner curmudgeon comes to life, as pissy and vindicitive as a troll with a 2-day hangover.
I reached a peppy gal who listened patiently to my tale of woe of mistaken emails. She was cheerful and apologetic and oh-so-helpful. She said she’d be more than happy to take my address off of the email list. She was so positive and perky, I was sure she had embraced the customer service credo of people being able to hear you smile over the phone. More important than her sparkling phone demeanor, was my deep, pure belief that she had done what I’d begged her to do, thus severing my one-sided relationship with Voyager Health once and for all.
It’s understandable then, how utterly betrayed I felt when my next Voyager Health email popped up.
I should pause here and admit that I actually really enjoy getting mail. I don’t mean flyers for vinyl siding or discounts for dining at restaurants I wouldn’t go to even if the food was free every day of the year, I mean real mail. Real mail is great. Letters from long lost friends, far away relatives, or even alumni magazines. As the information super-highway has grown and my access to it has become nearly constant, I’ve grown to accept email with all the affection I hold for paper mail. I’ve become proficient at separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to email. I can spot an offer for Mexican Viagra or a plea for help from wealthy widows in Zambia. Still, there are plenty of emails, and every one of them gives me a little thrill, just like they did when I got letters as a kid.
In April, I got yet another long email from Voyager Health. I went ahead and read it, since they sent it to me. I was becoming curious about them, and part of me wondered whether the gods of electronic mail were conspiring to get an important message to me. In this email, the new President of the company explained in great detail how he had interceded and cleaned house, chasing out the incompetent management and taking steps to right the corporate ship. He wrote good copy and really came across as a highly effective executive – a hands-on, no nonsense kind of guy. Though I’d grown to loathe Voyager Health’s inablity to stop sending me emails, I had to admit, this new boss really seemed like someone I could get behind! Then he ended his email, signing off as “Chief Warrior”.
Even my most annoying, incompetent of bosses, and I’ve had a few, never called him- or herself “Chief Warrior” – A brief shout-out of thanks to the patron saint of annoying bosses for that small blessing. Once I’d read the bizarre signature, the idea of it germinated in my head like a dandelion on steroids.
I considered calling again, thinking that perhaps the woman I’d initially spoken with was representative of the incompetent rabble who’d been ambushed by the Chief Warrior and his loyal band of business braves. I pictured them wielding tomahawks and 3-ringed binders as they moved stealthily through the offices in their business-moccasins with the little tassles on them. They’d bound into the boardroom, their russet colored faces painted with White-Out in fierce geometric designs and corporate logos. The squaws in accounts receivable would be busy in the clearing, crunching numbers as strips of buffalo jerky dried in the sun. Nearby, little ones in loincloths play in the company daycare, learning how to track game and change toner cartidges.
The interlopers had nearly traded the corporation to unscupulous Dutchmen for junk jewelry. Now they’ve been run off into the trees. They’ll lick their wounds and start searching for a new tribe to infiltrate – one without a mighty Chief Warrior.
I’m amazed to find myself rooting for this newer, leaner tribe, lead by the Chief Warrior. They’d made the difficult changes and purged the evil from their midst. They could get back to the business of business now. That and tanning hides. Sadly, their internal battles have likely distracted them from the great rumbling cloud on the horizon. Of course I’m referring to the coming of the Iron Horse. Heap big tribes with Chief Warriors who go by initials, like CEO and CFO and EIEIO. Their primitive ways will be no match for the coming plague of the initialled ones.
My wisdom is for naught. I’ve gotten these emails by mistake. I have neither a proxy vote nor a fast horse. I can do nothing but stand by and watch helplessly. A single tear trickles down my cheek, like I just watched someone litter.