E-mail Communication Can Be Dangerous During I
By Victoria Pynchon
This story occurs in the spring
of 2001, a year I'd dreamed
of since elemetary chooL.
But the technological changes
predicted in the science fiction of
my childhood and adolescence are
nothing like the "hi-tech" I'm living
with now. There are no one-man
jets cruising the skies; no robots
running my errands or coolting
my dinner; no tele-tränsportation;
and, on the poliical scene, no Big
My personal 2001 "future" is
primarily marked by instantaneous
access to information and "real
time" communication with that late
20th century "kiler app" - e-maiL.
E-mail- telegraphic, spontaneous,
unnuanced - is about to cause a
great deal of trouble in my own life.
There's an associate in Los An-
geles, you see, the quality of whose
work and the strength of whose
dedication to our mutual client is in
alarming decline. More troubling,
his enthusiasm and work ethic is
deteriorating at the same time I'm
taking" old-fashioned passenger jets
to cities in eveiy Canadian province
for the purpose of deposing those
still-living witnesses who can tell
me how 500-plus toxic waste sites
got that way in the first place.
It's 3 a.m. in Toronto. My associ-
ate failed to. fax me the outlne I
need for tòmorrow's deposition.
The "hard copy" exhibits that were
supposed to be waiting for me when
I arrived at the hotel have gone
missing. I'm tirtd. I'm hungry. I'm
lonely. And I'm angry.
Worst of all, I'm composing an
e-mail to my associate about my
considerable disappointment in
his recent performance. There is
a moment, a split second, in which
my finger hovers over the "send"
button while a rational voice in my
head says "no." Then I push "send."
It's becoming far more com-
mon in my mediation practice for
opposing counsel to be meeting
- and sometimes speaking - to
one another for the first time on
the morning of the settlement
conference. When they have met
previously, it's usually been only
in court ("good morning, counsel")
or in depositions (eyes averted;