Home > Communication, Love, Relationships > Not just the merry parts easily spoken

Not just the merry parts easily spoken

I routinely get emails for a couple other women named Deborah.

I don’t usually read more than a sentence or two of their emails. Once I realize I’m not the intended recipient for a letter, I shoot off a short note letting its sender know they’ve gotten the wrong Deborah. I’d like others to do the same so I can get my emails to their intended recipients.

Only once did I read the whole letter. 

Its sender forwarded a letter from his doctor. The opening explained that his doctor–who had become a friend–had urged him to open up about his cancer to his partner, his Deborah,because he didn’t have much more time and she deserved to know. She deserved to be part of all his life, not just the merry parts easily spoken.

The sender wrote that he’d struggled with whether or not to send such a letter before agreeing with his doctor. Before gathering up the courage to write it, explaining his earlier silence, and then actually send it.

I mulled over the letter for a long time.

I should never have read it.

But I did read it.

I fretted.

Was it better to let him know of his mistake and not touch on the content at all? Or should I say something, anything, because sometimes it’s all you can do to make the leap into cold, scary waters once and maybe he’d need a little encouragement leaping again?

In the end, I couldn’t just return it like I would a notification of a preschool closure or weekend picnic.

I wanted him to know this random Deborah, the wrong Deborah, had read. Had heard. And hoped.

This Deborah wrote back, approximately:

You meant this for another Deborah. I hope you send it to yours.

He never replied, but I didn’t email him expecting a response.

It’s been months since I thought about that letter meant for another Deborah.

It might have been many more months, too, but for a blog notification in my inbox today.

On Misdirected Emails,” I read aloud as I was catapulted back through time.

Revisiting that one misdirected email, I wonder anew. More than that,

I hope he sent it to his Deborah.

What do you do with letters in your inbox not meant for you?

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  1. December 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I have never received something like that! Certainly would have given me pause, though.

    • December 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      At first I tried figuring out who it was and how I’d forgotten them. Then I thought it might be phishing, but that didn’t seem right even before I reached the end and found no requests for anything. I’m glad there was just the one like this …

  2. December 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten an email that was not meant for me. Phone calls and snail mail, yes; but not emails. I would have done the same as you if I had.

    • December 9, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Until I got comments on this post, I assumed everyone got mails like these! I’m surprised to discover this isn’t so.

      • December 10, 2014 at 8:17 am

        You’d think with a name as common as Mary Jones, I’d get lots of them, but no!

  3. December 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Oh my my … interesting how my post seems to have sparked this one. Love the way you linked the two. Of course I invite your readers to come on over and comment … after all, I know you will verify that I’m a good host.

    Not sure I’ve ever received an email as in your example. Important voice mails messages, yes, but not emails.

    • December 9, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      I hoped my linking would be read as implicit verification! If it were a blog better avoided, I’d have just mentioned that an unnamed post title somewhere got me thinking.

      (This is not to say every failure to link a post is non-referral! Sometimes a blog has to roll around my head a little while, and during the time it takes to simmer, I forget where a particular post originated.)

      • December 10, 2014 at 3:43 am

        Glad to be one of the dominoes that made your post work … and thanks for the 3 who have visited up to this point.

  4. December 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Happened only for a brief period, when someone with the same name as I created an almost identical Gmail address. I let the senders know, and after a while she must have abandoned the address because it stopped. Never got anything interesting, though!

    • December 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      I think thse ladies have the same name. They’re international, so what might be happening (tho’ it didn’t occur to me before) is senders replacing non-US domain abbreviations with .com. (Some of those senders just keep sending no matter what, so I end up eventually routing all their mails to Spam.)

  5. December 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Usually, I delete them instantly thinking they are spam. Sometimes, if they appear not to be I read enough to figure it out and then let the sender know, ‘you have the wrong email’.

    If I had been in your shoes, back then, with that email; honestly I do not know what I would have done.

    • December 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

      Now I think I would stop reading the moment I realized it wasn’t for me and/or phishing. I’m glad I sent him a note, but not glad I read one word more than needed.

  6. cardamone5
    December 9, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Never have gotten one. Wow! What a predicament, which I thought you handled very well.

    • December 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Thank you!

      (I must’ve sent a dozen letters to one friend before realizing I’d missed her email address by one letter. If only the accidental recipient had sent a short note!)

  7. December 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    LOL, You have some of the most interesting things happen to you! I sometimes get copied on work emails that aren’t mine, and I always drop the recipient a note; however, I’ve never had something so personal hit my personal account, but I think you did the right thing!

    • December 10, 2014 at 8:53 am

      I think my high school self would be disappinted to know how many people shared this name. :p

      • December 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

        I’ll freely admit I was not happy when all of the sudden there became a Royal named Kate across the pond, I don’t pay much attention to them, but all of the sudden I knew my fairly unique name was about to completely disappear!

  8. December 9, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve never received an email not intended for me. Knock on wood… I’ve received phone messages meant for someone else, however. As much as I don’t like talking on the phone, if it sounds important, I’ll call the number on my caller ID back to let them know they called the wrong person. A bold move for an introvert. 😉

    • December 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

      When I first got my current number, I got so many calls for its prior owner that I changed my voicemail to say it was no longer X’s number. One distraught caller left a voicemail apologizing and explaining he’d never meant to inconvenience me. I felt so bad for him. I’d meant it as informative, not admonishing! (Also an introvert, those “Do you know where I can reach her?” calls were exhausting!)

  9. December 10, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Unbelievable and also quite haunting! I have never received an email not intended for me either, which is why at first I thought you were talking about another social media system that I wasn’t aware of!

  10. December 10, 2014 at 7:34 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an email intended for another person.

  11. NotAPunkRocker
    December 10, 2014 at 7:56 am

    I haven’t had that happen yet. A good friend gets bridge club updates for a person with the same name in New Zealand. She tells the sender each time that she’s in Virginia, not even in the same hemisphere, but every month, new update…

  12. December 10, 2014 at 7:59 am

    My gosh. I hope he sent it to her, too. What a horrible thought, keeping something like that from your partner.

  13. December 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Strange how lives can intersect in such a dramatic, personal way. You’ll probably never know what happened.

  14. December 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I am usually on the other end of this– people attempting to email me often miss the middle initial in my email address. So, I emailed this other person of the same name, whom I had been told by those accidentally reaching her lives across the country. We ended up exchanging a few lighthearted emails about our names and a bit of background. Very amusing.

  15. December 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    WOw, thats pretty intense. I wonder if she ever got it or if he saw it as a sign not to send it.

  16. December 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    You wrote the perfect response. It makes me wonder what happened…and a little teary.

    It’s another reminder of how we discover little graces in the strangest places, and we have the choice of noticing them or not

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