An e-mail arrives this morning from someone I do not know personally and with whom I have had no prior business interaction. It begins this way:
"Hope all is well."
Hope all is well? Honestly?
Maybe in the abstract, this person hopes I am well, but not really. Not in the way that I hope my sister in Minnesota, with whom I have been out of touch lately, is well.
The e-mail sender in this case happens to be a public relations professional whose interest in my well being is grounded not in genuine concern for me but rather the possibility that I might write something nice about her client.
She hopes I am well enough to write that item.
What bugs me about this particular ploy is not just the transparent insincerity but the underlying assumption that it might be effective; that having established this "personal connection" increases the likelihood that I will come across with the goods: positive publicity. (I say positive out of the near certainty that were I inclined to write something negative, the sender would just as soon see me contract polio as remain well enough to post it.)
This beef is a trivial matter, I realize; virtually all e-mail etiquette issues are minor by definition. But every time I read that smarmy greeting my blood pressure ticks up just a notch, meaning that I am -- ever so briefly -- less well.
Venting is good for one's health.
(Update: I'm truly heartened to see the spirited give and take in the comments section between those who disagree with my position and those who see my point.)
(Update 2: That first update is a crock on the order of "Hope all is well." I'm not at all "heartened" to read the criticisms of my work; some are kind of mean and journalists have feelings, too. I only posted the first update to illustrate my point about insincere platitudes.)
(Update 3: Update 2 has crock-like elements as well. I've been doing this 30 years and it's been a long time since anyone was able to hurt my feelings.)
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