Back in business

(Florian Pircher, via and used under Creative Commons zero)

The voice on the recorded help service said, "If you're experiencing email issues, we're aware of the situation and are working on it. If you have another issue, stay on the line." Not having an email connection is like living on the moon with no air, water or atmosphere. Doesn't the repair world know that work life revolves around emailing?

I look at the yellow "disconnected" triangle at the bottom of the computer screen. It's been showing for almost two hours. My first call to the help service was answered after 12 minutes, and I spoke with a technician. He confirmed that select users were "down" due to various system failures, and I was one of the lucky ones.

I look at the console phone sitting on my desk. Goodness, when's the last time I actually made a phone call to anyone? Hard to remember. So much is handled anymore via email. It's just so easy not only to connect with folks but also to send documents, all in one swoop. Efficiency is through the roof.

In my long-ago hospital CEO days, much before emailing, I wore a phone headset that plugged into the phone itself, meaning that I could walk around the administrative suite without taking off the headset. If I wanted to make a call, I simply plugged in the headset at my desk, dialed the number, and I was in business, hands-free. I'd actually be on phone calls all day long.

So is today's emailing better? It's easier in many ways, but certainly less personal. There's something about hearing a voice at the other end that brings people together in ways beyond simple content being communicated.

But there's something to be said for emailing, too. It's convenient. It's timeless in that you can send an email at any hour of the day or night when you might not make a phone call. Now if only the system will connect I can be back in business.

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of health services administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]

Catch up on the Horizons column, featuring reflections from younger sisters.