Random Recollection

Mail that Doesn’t Get Answered

Yatindra Bhatnagar

I must begin by saying that it’s not my birthright to get replies to ALL letters, e-mails etc. that I send out. I also concede that it’s the birthright of the recipients NOT to reply, or delay their replies.

Many do reply, some send delayed replies and others just ignore them – even if, to me, those were not worth being ignored. Some might think they are high above me in status – they might be right - to ignore, though I think otherwise. But that does not take the matter anywhere to my satisfaction. They say be happy, but how?

Some letters and e-mails DO need a reply, as an answer to queries, or as a response to what YOU have already made public and invited responses, or just a courtesy. In any case, a reply is expected, needed, and is a proof of the recipient’s education, culture, behavior, upbringing, perception  and manners, among other factors.

Am I being too harsh on those who don’t reply? May be, I have my rights also. And of course, sometimes I too don’t reply, or send a delayed reply. But then I might have my legitimate reasons for not doing so, as others too.  But my point remains that one does expect a reply. 

My father was very particular in writing and replying, without delay if possible. I have seen him replying to letters the day he received them, saying that the other side is expecting a reply, why delay it. Even if a reply is not needed, we could still communicate, exchange views, ask about how is the other side doing, and so on. 

I don’t know if my Father had experienced something I do quite often – no reply. I acknowledge I get some replies without delay and I admire them. I don’t like when people either don’t reply at all, or reply quite late, or after the initial response they don’t follow-up even if THEY had initiated or sought a response.  

I have several examples. In some cases the ID of the ‘culprits’ should remain safe with me. But to some I would not give immunity, I would like to mention them openly. If for no reason other than my own satisfaction – it may encourage others to NOT do that – not to ignore or not to be offended. Choose what you like.

Not so long ago I searched, found out the particulars and sent an e-mail to the Tarrant County (Texas) Sheriff’s office. Prompt came an automated reply assuring me of a further follow-up from that office. It’s now several months of silence and I have, kind of, given up. 

The reason, I thought, was significant and worth a proper response. It would have re-established my ‘relations’ with the Sheriff’s office in Tarrant County of which I am an Honorary Deputy Sheriff. Way back in 1965 when I was in Fort Worth, TX, with the local newspaper, Fort Worth Star Telegram, I was invited by Sheriff, Lon Evans and was given the honorary rank, badge and a certificate. It was an honor for me; a relation was established which I still cherish.

Fifty two years later I wanted to visit Fort Worth which is a part of Tarrant County and pay my respects to the current Sheriff and re-kindle my relations with the beautiful place I have many lasting memories of. Sheriff Lon Evans is sadly, no more, and there is a new Sheriff, Bill E. Waybourn, yet another storied officer with an admirable record. I needed nothing more than just to re-iterate my thanks and visit the office for a few minutes. That’s all. But my mail is buried somewhere.

In my heart, I am still waiting for a response. I know the Sheriff’s office must be very busy with its multi-faceted duties and heavy responsibilities . It has hardly time for an inconsequential visit from a journalist who happened to stay in Fort Worth 52 years back and was graciously given an honor.     

Talking about Fort Worth and my longer connections with Star Telegram newspaper, there is another story. I also wanted to visit that newspaper office, see if anybody I knew is still there, or try to meet old acquaintances if they are still in that area. I had written articles/news reports for the paper and was a visiting journalist for three weeks. I was treated as a regular member of the editorial staff and given all the consideration, affection and facilities.  

My daughter Seema, who lives in Houston (TX), just four hour’s drive from Fort Worth went to work for my intended visit. After repeated attempts to contact the paper, finally, a secretary DID respond. Things had, no doubt, changed since I was with the paper 52 years back. Star Telegram was acquired by the bigger paper, Dallas Morning News, as happens, and there was a skeleton staff in Fort Worth - none from the last century, Seema was told.

Dallas is a little over 33 miles – half hour drive -  from Fort Worth. No big deal.

However, the contact with the Secretary was preliminary, discouraging and not on-going. I have been a regular journalist and would readily welcome an old newsman revisiting after more than half a century. I would have treated the visit as a good feature story and, I am sure, would have been something of interest to the readers  of the paper. It could also have helped me to contact lost friends in that area.

But no. The ‘other side’ was either not interested and did not see any merit in my visit or could not grasp an opportunity for an interesting report for the paper. Well, that’s that. Can’t do anything about it except to say that, perhaps, contact with a ‘real journalist’ might have given a better response.  

And this other story is not about a real or unreal journalist or a Sheriff’s office. This is about a community activist in the area I live, Sunland-Tujunga-La Crescenta-La Canada Flintridge in the greater Los Angeles area.

A few months back I read a short news item about a group of community members trying to have some trees planted. I jumped at the opportunity to associate myself with them and have a tree or two planted in memory of my wife, Sadhana, who passed away not too long ago. I called a number, spoke to a lady who seemed excited and told me they have already purchased a tree but the original ‘donor’ was wavering, and would be happy to welcome me with my offer. And there was a promise to call me back after consultations with other community-members.

That call never came. My calls remained unanswered. The no-reply-problems were never explained and I am left wondering what happened. There might be legitimate reasons but I might never know what really happened.

I don’t want to end this article on a negative note.

There is the editor-publisher, Robin Goldsworthy, of Crescenta Valley Weekly, who surprises me with her very quick response to my e-mail and is quicker to thank me for a submission for publication.

There are still good people in this world that put a smile on the face of others and make the Earth go round merrily!