Email Follies

August 2012

Recently a man named Lawrence Weiss kindly forwarded to me several documents related to the Congregation Beth HaTephila Facility so that I could make changes to them. My response was: What? Never heard of this synagogue.

Obviously, an email sent to the wrong person. So I emailed Lawrence and let him know. He thanked me.

These errant emails to my Gmail account happen surprisingly often. "Karpen" is not that common a name, and you'd think that there'd only be a small number of people with the first initial "j." Yet somehow I tend to regularly get email addressed to "jkarpen" that is intended for them.

I also recently received an email from a lumber company saying I had $2592.89 in my account and inviting me to check out their doorknobs

Last New Year's Eve I was invited by Dee to a party at Jack of Hearts in Weaverville, North Carolina. Thank you very much. The email was intended for a Jean Karpen. No doubt I would have enjoyed meeting Kristi, Vicki, Becky, Susan, Louise, Toby, Anna, Helen, Beverley, Melinda, Betty, and Annie, but I let the sender know she had the wrong person. Oddly, that was the fifth time I'd heard from Dee, and at least the second time I'd told her she had the wrong person.

And this was actually the second sender who had sent email intended for Jean Karpen. The other was from Veg In Out Meals, inviting her to return as a customer. It was apparently Jean who was confused about her email address, because months earlier I had received a half dozen automated responses from Veg In Out Meals after Jean had begun ordering with them.

I also received this cryptic message from Bruce via his Blackberry: "Although I know you are taking step M to dinner neither of my sons can go to game. Do you? Know someone in Det area who might?" I didn't, of course, and I let him know. For the umpteenth time. Poor Bruce. I've learned about his heart attack, about his receiving several stents three months later. And in between he sent me an off-color joke. He finally told me he had me confused with an administrative law judge in Michigan also named Jim Karpen and corrected his address book.

And there was this one, letting me know that the sender had arrived safely: "Dear James and Watson, I accidentally erased my last long email to you so I will only do a short one this time. We all got here safely and this morning we all got up around 2:30 am and couldn't wait to have our breakfast. We plan to go sightseeing soon. Just want to say hi to you." I told Jenny I was glad to hear she arrived safely, and let her know her error.

I also received an email intended for Jeremy Karpen, inviting me to a wedding. And a Joel Karpen is apparently confused about his email address, as suggested by this email I received that was directed to him: "Thank you for choosing TrainingPro for your mortgage education needs! You have been successfully registered for the courses listed below." A followup message included his password. The receipt showed he'd paid $425.

An email for Jeff Karpen from a company called Micron was confirming their job offer of $94,000 per year plus many benefits. Jeff is apparently doing quite well. And there was the email inviting me to exhibit my pottery and asking why they hadn't heard from me.

Perhaps the most frequent errant emails I receive are in response to a mailing list I have. I send out announcements about events, and get replies such as: "Hi sweetie, what do you say we go to this. Sounds like fun." There is nothing in the email headers I send out that anyone could possibly confuse me with sweetie. But apparently people Reply when they intend to Forward. I always let them know, and they often respond with gratitude.

But think of all the opportunities I've missed. Dee in North Carolina actually responded last New Year's Eve saying, "Thanks for letting me know. If you happen to be in the area, feel free to stop by anyway. We're a fun crowd."

If there's a lesson in this, it's that you should always let people know when things have gone wrong. I assumed I was diligent about this, but in looking back through my archives, I now think that maybe I didn't catch it the first time in some instances. I resolve to do better.

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© 2012 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

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