The plan was simple, oh so simple. I’d ring Anne from the penultimate station, giving her time to drive down to the terminus and pick me up. What culd possibly go wrong? Several things, apparently. It’s a comedy of errors, unless it’s happening to you at the time.
1. It was only at the penultimate station, when I dialled home, that I realised I had no credit left on my phone. No problem – go to plan b. I emailed her to say I had no credit and that I’d be at the terminus soon.
2. Ten minutes of waiting at the terminus with no sign of a pick-up and I sent my ‘free’ text to make contact.
3. Ten minutes after that I emailed to say I’d start walking and hopefully find a payphone on the way.
4. Hooray, I found a payphone. But she didn’t get to the phone before I’d given up listening to rings.
5. I decide to wait anyway, just in case.
6. A minute or three later I get a text back to say she’s on her way.
7. Then it starts raining. A lot.
Naturally, when she does pick me up, I use the opportunity to turn sarcasm into an artform (for me, anyway). I forget that a sensible person would check they had some phone credit, and instead I mention my original plan, which was to only phone if the train was going to be late.
It didn’t help that Anne had:
a) Forgotten which train I was on and my arrival time.
b) Forgotten that the Internet could have told her, based upon my planned departure time.
c) Was in the attic when the phone rang.
d) Couldn’t get a decent mobile signal.
The lesson here is that communication is a two-part process of sending and receiving (preferably with the original message arriving intact). As writers, whether we’re communicating with clients, with agents and editors, or with readers, we have to take responsibility for what we say and how it’s interpreted.
And always, always, give credit where credit is due!