Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Email address

I recently touched on the difficulty in transcribing email addresses when registering library cards. There are a variety of contributing factors to this: The wax in my aging ears, the masks everyone is, for probably a short time, still wearing at my library, the lack of diction training in modern America, and the plexiglass shield between me and the library patrons. Sometimes too there is the sheer illogic of people's misguided email choices; sz2is20o0le_4six@czszmail.biz is always going to be complicated to communicate. But despite the many problems all of the above causes, the main problems come down to people's delivery of said address. 

To illustrate the problematic issues with which people tell me their email address I am enclosing a fairly representative transcript of such an exchange: 

"What is your email address?" I enquire, in the process of creating a library card.

"You want that now?"

"Yes, please." I politely request.

 "Chay, arr, doo, somblesore." They tell me. 

That's how it starts. I get most of it, but I'm not entirely sure. "Did you say "Double-U"?" I ask.

"Yes. Goo, april, sore, ambel, gee, bar."

"Wait, "M-E-R"?" I ask.


"N-E-R?" Working it out.


"Go ahead." I urge.

"Dot." They say.

"Dot." I echo.

"Elygeeatchteeemayan." They say, like it's one thing.

"L-A-G-8-T-M-A-I-N?" I ask.

"No, Elygeeatchteeemayan." They reply.

"L-A-G-H-T-M-I-N?" I ask.

"No, Elygeeatchteeemayan." They reply.

"L-I-G-H-T-M-I-N?" I ask.

"No, Elygeeatchteeemayan." They reply.

"L-I-G-H-T-M-A-N?" I ask.

"Yes. Elygeeatchteeemayan." They reply. 

Then they say nothing. 

"At..." I say, to lead them on.

"At." They say.

Long pause here, so I say "G...?"  in a leading, questioning way, hoping they will do the rest all at once. We're in the home stretch.

"G" They say.

I have a feeling I know where this is going, but I don't want to jump the gun.

"M" They say.

"@gmail.com?" I ask, unable to go through the whole thing.

"At Gmail." They agree. "Dot com."

"I put it all together. "So, it's just your first name, dot last name, at gmail dot com?" I ask.


The one thing I do not ask, though I am dying to know it, is why didn't they just say "Wilner-dot-Lightman-at-Gmail to begin with?" Or even more simply, why didn't they simply say "First name dot last name at Gmail" and save us ten minutes?

I refrain from asking them because I have learned here at the front desk of my library that some questions have no answer. And some of those non existent answers will take a dangerously long time to listen to.

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If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.