Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The clocks are stupid, not me. Really. They are.

     A smart person can do some pretty stupid things.
     Whether the doing of those stupid things crosses some stupidity threshold and transforms the heretofore smart person into a newly minted stupid person depends on a) the number and magnitude of the stupid thing or things this supposed smart person has done and b) the charitable or non-charitable way in which those stupid things are viewed.
    You'll have to decide...
   Last Wednesday evening, Dan Savage, syndicated sex columnist, author of best-selling memoirs, MTV star, perhaps the most significant journalist in America, asks if I'll be on his top-rated podcast. 
    I reply, "yes." 
Dan Savage
    Actually, I reply, "YES!!!!!" with the enthusiasm of a schoolgirl accepting her first date, because this represents the kind of outside validation which, laboring behind the plow, digging furrow after furrow in the hard earth, I crave.
     He tells me his producer—a producer is a person who handles the fine details such as scheduling, someone I don't have, but could sorely use, as will become evident—will contact me and schedule our chat. Ten minutes later I hear from producer Nancy. 
    "We will call you most likely around 11 Pacific time," she writes.
     Well, even I know the West Coast is two hours behind us, so that's 9 a.m. my time, I think. About the time I arrive at work. But if the train is late, as it sometimes is, I'll be huffing along Wacker Drive at 9 a.m. instead of poised in my chair, calm and composed, nipping at a fresh coffee, ready to wax with the kind of wit and intelligence that will project me into the world of syndicated columns, best-selling books and top podcasts. I decide it would make more sense to stay home to do the podcast. I prepare by listening to Dan's podcast, then get to bed early.
     At 8:45 a.m. Thursday, I set aside my work, pour a hot cup of coffee, and am poised in my chair, calm and composed, nipping at a fresh coffee, ready to wax with kind of wit and intelligence that will project me into the world of syndicated columns, best-selling books and top podcasts 
     9:05 a.m., poised in my chair, calm and composed, nipping at a fresh coffee... aw heck, you get the idea.
       At 9:06, worrying I'm seeming over-eager, I shoot Nancy an email. "Standing by." 
      Hmmm, must be a delay. I picture an electronic control center, crackling with activity. 9:10. 9:15, I use my cell to call my own phone. It rings. That's a good sign.
       At 9:17 I send Dan an email. "Running late?" 9:20 a.m. I think to check the time in Seattle. It's 7:26 a.m. there. Ohhh. Two hours before. I send the producer an apologetic note beginning "Whoops..." and reset my mental clock for 11 a.m. Go back to work or try to. 
     10:50 a.m. I'm ready, hot coffee, turning bon mots over in my head. Are they bon motty enough? 11 a.m. Poised in my chair, calm and composed, nipping at a fresh coffee, etc. etc. Right on the nose, 11 a.m..     
     11:05. 11:10. 11:20, my composure wilting like a ... heck, I should be able to come up with a sexual metaphor, in honor of Dan's line of work ... wilting like a ... ah ... like an, umm, thingie...  umm....that ... how does he write that sex stuff anyway? It's a lot harder than it looks.
    Well, wilting anyway, flagging like an, err... I figure, I'd better call his producer.  I get voicemail. "That was today, right?" A few minutes later I get an email. 
     "We were thinking 11:00 Pacific time. That's 1:00 your time," she says. "Can you still do it?"
      You'll notice the lack of sarcasm in her reply. Professionalism. 
     I look at the original email. 11 PST. 1 p.m. my time. So two mistakes. First, I read that as 9 a.m. Central time instead of 1 p.m. And second, when I realized the difference, I transmuted the original time from 11 to 9 a.m.. Error upon error. This is why I work in a medium where I can go over and over things, to make sure they're not screwed up. I don't function well in real time.
      We finally do the interview, but I must have been so wound up that I muffed it, because Dan—pretending like the mistake was all his, which is true professionalism—asked me to do it over again. Which I did. By the time we were done, it was about 2:30 p.m. The results, well, you can judge for yourself, once the podcast is posted at 5 a.m. Central Standard Time.
    I think. 


  1. Whenever someone tells me that something is being done in a different time zone, I always make sure we're on the same page & confirm the time in Central Time.

  2. Our home office is in Indianapolis so meeting invites show eastern time even though they go on my calendar correctly. I can't tell you how many meetings I've dialed into early only to discover I'm the only one of n the phone.

  3. Told my wife the other day, "Sure, this is a good time to call your friend in Korea; it's about 10 or so in the morning." When the friend's voice groggily answered, I realized my estimate was about 3 or 4 hours off. I wonder why my wife doesn't trust my judgment when I'm so much smarter than she is.


  4. That is one of the reasons the World Clock app on my phone is used so frequently....


  5. At least he's not based in Arizona, where they shift back and forth based on not being on Daylight Savings time.

  6. I've screwed it up so often that now I confirm times using both zones, by writing, eg 11 am PST/ 1 pm CST.
    Also, "perhaps the most significant journalist in America." Really?!? By what measure?

  7. Lives affected. HIs "It gets better" campaign. The education provided by his columns. And my humble opinion. Who's more significant? Some blowhard at the New York Times? I don't think so.


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