You log in and log off multiple times a day, which doesn’t even count how many times you check your phone when you’re waiting for something in reality to happen or go away. You check so often that you have honed your skimming skills, knowing when to gloss over stupid things that were “shared” to spread questionable or obvious information, photos of sick kids farming for likes, and yet another Grumpy Cat pic. (OK, you look at some of the Grumpy Cat pics.)
But somehow you hadn’t realized the other inbox until that co-worker made a joke about it. Plenty of messages came in and got read; some replied to, some ignored. Some conversations left. But that extra inbox hadn’t occurred to you. Actually, you tell yourself, maybe you had seen it, and just assumed it was a spam folder. Or did you tell yourself that because you like to think you know how all this stuff works? Anyway, you chuckled at the joke, and waited until you got back to your desk to look.
A lot of it was actually spam. Bands you didn’t really know, events you hadn’t agreed to attend. All easily and quickly deleted. But there was also a series of messages from him. They didn’t even merge together into a single thread, since you had never replied. So you had to click through each of them, a series of notes that fill in holes of conversations you hadn’t taken part in. From the first message all the way to the one from last week, you read all of them.
You went through them again before logging out and switching back to a work window. Even on the way home, you thought about whether to reply. The other inbox offered a clear explanation, a reason. A chance.