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Andy Prest: Escape your haunted email inbox with some high-flying friends

The North Vancouver Radio Controlled Flying Club has been taking to the skies for more than 20 years, and unintentionally haunting columnist Andy Prest's inbox for two years
Model Airplane Club PM 2 web
Members of the North Vancouver Radio Control Flying Club meet at Inter River Park. Biplanes, helicopters, stunt flyers and fan jet planes are some of the preferred crafts for club members.

As we get into scary season, let’s take a moment to recognize a true modern poltergeist – the email that haunts you from your inbox as you keep clicking it as “unread.”

There are some folks still out there – old-timers in particular – who do not have e-mail accounts, and we should start by acknowledging your courage and showing respect for your life choices.

All of the rest of us, though – the great email-receiving masses – get a barrage of messages every day, and must somehow deal with them while still maintaining a few minutes for other life essentials such as eating, sleeping and briefly stepping away from our keyboards.

If you’re anything like me, you have a special pile of email messages that provide you with days, weeks, months or even years of guilt.

These are the emails that you read on a busy morning and decide that you want to craft a nice reply to, but you don’t have time at the moment, so you mark the email as unread. Then you go about your busy day, answering 123 more urgent but less fun emails, and then you go home and drink one beer. Then four days later you have a bit of free time – LOL, just kidding, free time isn’t allowed anymore – or at least some slightly less-busy time, and you check through your unread emails. That’s when the haunting begins.

“Oh, yeah,” you say as you notice that unread email. “I need to get back to that guy.”

And then you promptly remember some other urgent task that you really must do right now – perhaps answering the phone, or putting out the small fire you lit under your desk just to feel some excitement – so you click that email back to “unread” and move on. And then a month later you notice that message is still unread, and now you’re really embarrassed and racked with guilt, all by a little bit of writing on a screen that is in a bold font rather than a regular font.

You are being haunted by a message that can force you up in the middle of the night, your sweat-soaked pillow proof of the anxiety you feel over your failure to reply in a reasonable time.

I’ve been haunted by one such message for nearly two years.

There’s a very patient, very real gentleman named Paul whose message first arrived in my inbox in January 2021. He was wondering if we’d like to write something about the North Vancouver Radio Controlled Flying Club. It sounded cool, and I did want to write about it, and I actually wanted to see if I could get out there and watch, maybe try it out myself. I actually did reply, and thus started a back and forth of messages trying to figure out timelines and dates and good flying weather. And each message became more haunting than the last, as the story idea landed on my “fun things I want to do” list, something that never quite got finalized, always pushed back into “unread” territory.

And each time I happened upon the latest message, sitting there in bold, I was haunted again.

So here I am now, exorcising one demon. Did I finally clear my schedule and go soaring through the sky with this very kind and patient and fun-sounding club? No, I did not, because I spent approximately 105 hours over the Thanksgiving weekend coaching two soccer teams in two tournaments.

But I am going to change this story from “unread” to “read” by just telling you about the club.

They’ve been in operation more than 20 years, they have a lovely mix of club members, with young flyers honing the craft alongside folks in their 80s. Club members have a wide range of skill as well, with some content to fly basic “laps” while others can do all sort of acrobatic flips and tricks with the model aircraft. They’re always keen to add new members, and they are enjoying this fall flying season with the beautiful weather we’ve been having. They fly out of North Van’s Inter River Park, and you can learn more on their website.

And with that, I hope my haunting is over. I still do want to get out there and fly, but at the very least I can let that email chain shed its unread shackles and soar into the heavens, at home with other read messages.

Take it as a badge of honour. Any email can be read. It takes a special one to be haunting.

Andy Prest is the assistant editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly. [email protected]

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