Living on the top floor of a 3-story walk-up, and signing my name on every email....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/12/04 10:01 -05:00, original URI:

A friend of mine noticed that I always sign my emails with my name (Michael).

She asked me one day whether I did that with an auto-signature in Outlook, or typed it each time.

It's funny, no one had ever asked me that before, at least not that I can recall.

I told her the short version of the story at the time, but now I will tell the long version. She reads the blog from time to time so eventually she will get both versions....

Here goes:

You see, I used to always live on the top floor of walk-up apartment buildings of two or three stories.

They were walk-ups either because I was poor (early on) or just in the habit (later on).

Basically the top floor is what I was always aiming for, mainly because a long time ago I had an apartment on Walnut Street in Philadelphia where the apartment was pretty quiet, and then a few years later had one in Hartford that was not on the top floor and had to put up with either small children stomping or adults being loudly intimate. The top floor just always seemed quieter, like my place on Walnut Street.

When I was growing up, I slept over a chandelier -- and learned to walk very quietly. So loud stomping always annoyed me, and even loud walking grated a bit. So not having to deal with that was nice.

Anyway, later on, like in the last place I lived before where I am now, I was on the third floor.

But I was actually prone to falling quite a bit.

I probably fell down flights of stairs hundreds of times, becoming quite good at falling and not getting seriously injured.

To this day, I am told that watching me fall is an odd site, it looks like I do it in slow motion -- like that dinosaur from the movie Caveman who Ringo Starr caused to get high before he toppled off the cliff.

People asked me all the time why the hell I was living on the third floor of the building, as you might imagine. 

Now I had a good new reason for living on the third floor.

And that reason is that any time I was afraid of the stairs, I felt like I should be afraid of the world that day. And just work from home.

Eventually I just wasn't ever going out any more, which is why I ended up moving to the first floor and getting a scooter. In truth I probably waited about 10 months to long to do so, and missed out on a few things in those ten months that I shouldn't have.

I now live on the first floor, using the back door as my front door since there are no stairs (my front door is a half flight of stairs down). They call it an accessible apartment but they should clue me in on their brand of hashish because with no handlebars or other assertive devices in the bathroom and a stacked washer/dryer, you'd have to be on some kind of funky drugs to consider this an accessible apartment. But it suits my needs (and that helpful stuff tends to annoy me usually anyway).

At this point you have either forgotten about the signature thing or you weren't paying attention. :-)

Anyway, earlier on, when I said:

And that reason is that any time I was afraid of the stairs, I felt like I should be afraid of the world that day.

Well that's just it.

I always spell check my emails, and I type them myself until I start misspelling my name.

At which point I start using the Dragon Dictate software instead.

So the ability to type my name, it becomes my metric for when I should be afraid to type at all. :-)

Now my friend did not fully buy into this explanation, and responded:

You do recognize how OCD it is that you sign every email, right?

Well, maybe.

Though I am in a small way doing it for the same reason that I would only brave the world when I was willing to brave the stairs. Or why Jed Bartlett would play chess -- it is an easy way to assess one's abilities and whether they are temporarily compromised. A way not subject to emotion or subjective judgment since the criteria for failure (falling, losing, misspellings) are way too objective for that....


This post brought to you by(U+2654, aka WHITE CHESS KING)

# Stuart Ballard on 4 Dec 2007 11:10 AM:

Weird. I sign every email with my name by hand too, and I don't have any "reason" for it. I always just considered it a kind of courtesy to the person I'm sending to. If I can't be bothered to pay them the effort of typing six characters and a period, then why should I expect them to pay me the effort of reading whatever other gibberish I'm sending in their direction?

(I do have a sig, too, that's automatically added and just contains my blog url, properly delimited with "-- ", because I'm old-skool ;) Needless to say I don't type that bit by hand. I'm not THAT hardcore.)

# John Cowan on 4 Dec 2007 1:28 PM:

To me, emails are memos, and you don't sign memos.  The From: at the top tells it all, and there is even the .sig at the bottom.  Here, let me grab one from my sigmonster program (I hope it looks reasonable: it's meant for the 80-column monowidth environment that God intended email to be read in):

John Cowan     
"After all, would you consider a man without honor wealthy, even if his
Dinar laid end to end would reach from here to the Temple of Toplat?"
"No, I wouldn't", the beggar replied.  "Why is that?" the Master asked.
"A Dinar doesn't go very far these days, Master.        --Kehlog Albran
Besides, the Temple of Toplat is across the street."      The Profit

# mdmhvonpa on 4 Dec 2007 1:58 PM:

What some people call OCD, others call a reasonable attention to detail.

# Dean Harding on 4 Dec 2007 5:25 PM:

I always type my name manually. I used to have a sig that just included my name, but I thought that was being lazy :-)

# Mike on 5 Dec 2007 1:33 PM:

I do something similiar - I always turn off all the "automatically log me in" options for programs and websites.  Not because of the security aspect (although that's part of it), but because if I don't I know I'll probably forgot my password.  Being forced to type it all the time ensures I'll remember it.

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