Pet Please #12: Unexpected E-Mails from Old Friends

The other day I got an e-mail from an old friend, a guy with whom I studied in Japan, completely out of the blue. Made my day.

There were two key elements that made the e-mail so great:

  1. It was unexpected. It’s still nice if you see it coming or if you initiated, but getting an unexpected e-mail from an old friend is better than a Tostino’s party pizza after a long day of work.
  2. It was substantial. It kind of sucks when you see an e-mail from an old friend–not an acquaintance, but a real friend–in your inbox, and you’re all excited at the treasures that await you when you open it, and then you read it and it’s like, “Hey, just wanted to say hi. What’s up with you?” I mean, it’s nice that they reached out, but give me something to work with. Tell me what you’re up to first.

You all know how great it is to get one of these e-mails, so why not take 5 minutes today and send a solid e-mail to a completely random old friend with no ulterior agenda? You’ll probably make their day.

(As a sidenote, I just invented a topical Google Labs e-mail tool in my mind. Basically, when you send an e-mail from Gmail, next to the subject line you should be able to choose the date by which you’d like the other person to respond. Because you know how sometimes you get caught in e-mail conversations–sometimes with old friends–that you really just wanted to be one or two e-mails, so when it becomes more than that you start to wait a few days to respond, but without fail the other person always responds with a 20-page treatise approximately 5 seconds after you sent your last e-mail? Why not avoid the whole ambiguity and just tell the person when you’d like them to respond. It helps them too, because I’m sure we’re all a little over/under-eager at times.)

9 thoughts on “Pet Please #12: Unexpected E-Mails from Old Friends”

  1. I have about 100 people I’ve been intending to e-mail, but I never do because I don’t want to just send the “Hi, how are you?” e-mail that disappoints them. Actually taking the time to put some thought into it keeps it on my to-do list and never on my “done” list.

    However, I think the excitement you’ve displayed should actually get me in gear to finally send one or two of those…

  2. I actually prefer sending handwritten notes out of the blue. I think it’s a sweet way to let someone know that you’re thinking about them, and it really does only take 10 minutes to write a card. I keep them at my desk at work, and when I need a mental break, I’ll pull one out and send to a friend.

    Come to think of it, I should compose a note right now!

    • Lucida is too wide for my taste.
      Isn’t it exciting that they still sell stationary? I say this only because it amazes me at how many stationary stores are still in business (not to say that moving stores aren’t going out of business too, except the Korean taco guy in LA. Does a food cart count as a store though? I think not). I mean, I bought blank cards long enough ago that I cringe to use them now because my taste are different and I find them unattractive. I’m too unemployed to buy new ones though.

      • I’m amazed that they’re still in business. When I think, “I need to buy thank-you notes,” I go to the grocery store. I don’t even think of a dedicated store that sells only thank-you notes.

  3. How long do you have to know them before you consider them an old friend?
    Does it have to be a friend sending you the email? Do you open everything excited to see what the person says, or are there some people who make you cringe when you see that they send you an email and deliberately avoid reading it?

    • All good questions. I’d say:

      Two years and they’re an “old friend” if it was a pretty intense friendship.

      It can be anyone sending you an e-mail. It’s an unexpected e-mail that is the joy.

      Oh yes. Not too many, but a few.

      • I think you should jump for joy if Blogstalkers send you emails, just in case you cringe when they email you. They make life oodles of fun usually.


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