THE BLOG

Confirmation Emails, Or It Didn't Happen

03/27/2015 11:54 am ET | Updated May 27, 2015
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At work the other day, a man showed up for a meeting a whole week early.

It was a regular monthly meeting held on the third Tuesday of every month, so it shouldn't have been a surprise. But through a trick of the calendar, he said, he got his weeks mixed up, was just on autopilot, and showed up.

The man, who is a generation and a half my senior, and I talked for a bit since he had to travel to get there. We caught up, discussing calendars, busy schedules, just normal small talk, when he remarked that he was off put by the culture of "confirmation emails."

He expressed that he was turned off by them because the "confirmation" somehow has turned into an excuse to bail. "Since when did it become necessary to have a confirmation? If we say we'll meet at 10 a.m. on the 15th, then we're meeting at 10 a.m. on the 15th. It doesn't matter if we plan it a week out or a year out. The meeting on the 15th doesn't hinge on an email sent on the 14th. Our original conversation should be 'confirmation' enough."

Of course, this is rich coming from the man who would've benefited from a confirmation email letting him know that he had the date wrong.

But what he said struck a chord with me. Do I actively participate in the culture of confirmation emails/texts/DMs?

The answer is almost generally, yes.

I often make plans with friends for a night in the future, and then as the day approaches, if there's been radio silence on the event, you start to wonder, is it still a date?

Or you make what you thought were very "soft" plans with someone, only to be thrown off when they text "Where you are? We're here." You think, "But... I never got a confirmation! I didn't know it was actually happening."

In either case, it's not real unless there's a "confirmation email" that goes out.

Why do we need that? Do we not stick by our word anymore?

I don't normally admit it, but I'm just old enough to remember a time where we didn't have confirmation emails/texts or cell phones.

I think about one of the first times I went out to see a movie on my own. No parents. Just friends. (It was Bio-Dome starring Mr. Pauly Shore if you must know) and looking back, it was quite the organizational feat. Lots of phone calls from landlines to other landlines over a few days, to try to make sure everyone was going to the same showtime (a showtime listed in the newspaper, mind you) at the same theatre. And of course, sometimes you had to leave a voicemail, and you didn't even know if they got it!

And then day of, if you were running late, well, there's no way of knowing. For all we knew, you were in a car accident, or sick, or just decided there was something better to do and stood us up.

Now though, if you're late/not showing, you send an email or a text and that's that. As if it makes our tardiness or our flakiness excusable.

I realize now that I took for granted that comfort I had that everyone would just show up because... well... they said they would!

Now though, I almost can't imagine making plans with someone a week out, for a specific date/time, and then not have any communication with them for a whole week and then show up at that time and have them show up too! That truly seems miraculous.

While I like the idea that I can take other people at their word, I don't trust them. And while I like to think that I am a person of my word, I can't be trusted.

I will send a confirmation email, every time.

(Unless, secretly I don't want to meet up, in which case, I don't send a confirmation to them, and hope they don't send me one.)