Please welcome Rainbow Rowell, author of Attachments – newly available in paperback!
by Rainbow Rowell
Much like the characters in Attachments (or exactly like the characters in Attachments) – I was working at a Midwestern newspaper in the late ‘90s. A newspaper that became very concerned about Internet security.
We were slow to get email, and when we did, it was monitored…by actual human beings: Guys who worked down in the IT office and could read anything we wrote, anytime they wanted.
Just like any other corporate office, we were not supposed to use our work email accounts for anything other than work. We couldn’t access Yahoo or Hotmail from our desks. If a personal email, a gossipy email, an email complaining about your boss was sent, the boss may receive a note the follwoing morning from the “guys” downstairs.
We were all completely paranoid about this. All of us. The entire newsroom.
But we all broke the rules anyway.
It was just too tempting! It was too easy. Before email, if you wanted to gossip with your friend across the room, you had to meet each other in the bathroom, or squat and whisper in one of your cubicles. (Which was like shouting, “Hey, everybody, we’re gossiping!”)
But, with email, you could gossip with a friend across the room, and still look like you were working. It was marvelous.
I was probably more careful than most of my coworkers (I’m a flagrant rule-follower) – until my best friend at work, a copy editor, had a health crisis.
She was terrified and angry and desperately sad – and she didn’t want anyone else in the office to know. We couldn’t talk about it at work because she didn’t want anyone to hear, and she didn’t want them to see that she was upset.
So we talked about it over email. Only over email. All the time over email.
Her messages were heartbreaking. I tried to make mine encouraging – and, whenever possible, funny. All I could do to help was try to make her laugh.
I used to think about that guy in the basement reading all of our emails. I was sure he was there and that he’d noticed us. Sometimes I would get mad at him. “Are you reading this, Big Brother? Are you going to turn us in? You’re such a jerk. You know what she’s going through right now. How could you turn us in?”
He (even though “he” was probably more like three “he’s and a computer filter) became a third person in our email conversations. A silent partner. I never forgot that he was watching . . .
I wondered if he got sucked into our drama. I wondered if he laughed at our jokes.
And then, because I’m a romantic comedy junkie, I started thinking about what would happen if he fell in love. Not with one of us — we were both married and totally resistible. But what if he fell in love with someone else just by reading her email? What would he do?
It’s not like he could tell her. He couldn’t just say, “Hi, my name is Lincoln, and I’m the guy who reads your email. And also, I love you.”
That situation — hypothetical and overly romantic and probably ridiculous — became the premise for my first book.
More on Attachments:
Rainbow Rowell’s Blog | Our review of Attachments