I don’t know where the term “mailing it in” comes from (the Google results are inconclusive, with my personal favorite being the claim that it originated in the 2002 Ryan Reynolds comedic vehicle, Van Wilder).
I know what the term means of course, but it makes no literal sense. At least not anymore.
Mailing it in implies just going through the motions or, completing a task with minimal possible effort.
Do you know how much effort it takes to actually mail something these days?
I mailed something this week and it was the hardest thing I’ve done in like a month.
My post office literally closes an hour for lunch. Once I made it in, the nice ladies in charge would not let me borrow tape, but happily told me I could buy a roll for $9. The package I sent has still not shown up due to “weather”.
Whatever happened to all that neither rain nor sleet nor snow talk?
ANYWAY, mailing stuff kind of sucks.
Mailing stuff in does too and I had a powerful reminder of that recently as well.
I had a speaking engagement for a women’s group of about 50. I had 30 minutes to talk about whatever I wanted and I was to bring some popsicles of course. A pretty routine event, and one that was booked many months ago.
Somehow I let the date sneak up on me anyway, so rather than diligently prepare, I decided at the last minute to rehash a talk I had done for a group of high-school students.
Virtually the same demographic right? What could go wrong?
Oh, and I failed to confirm that there would be a projector for slides (there wasn’t).
So upon arriving I had to wing it, which is what you say when you have mailed something in but want to brag about it.
Do you know how embarrassing it is to be talking and see an 80 year old woman get so bored she starts playing with her Apple watch?
I got off track at one point and realized I was talking about the intricacies of applying for a nutritional info label. The people that create nutritional info labels don’t even find that interesting.
Slightly panicked, I quickly wrapped up and moved on to the Q and A.
Here’s the thing about mailing it in-you can often get away with it. Many in that group loved the talk and I received a nice email after the fact from the organizer saying how great she thought it was.
But I knew. You always know.
It could have (and should have) been better, and it wouldn’t have taken that much more work. With one, maybe two hours of solid preparation it would have been one of the best events that group had ever had.
Instead, I have now spent at least twice that amount of time replaying it in my head and and regretting how I handled the experience.
In almost every instance, the time saved by mailing something in is wasted on redoing the task the right way or regretting how it turned out.
I know that if I had anything of real value that I needed to get from place A to place B I would think long and hard about sending it via the mail.
And the most valuable thing that any of us have is our reputation.
Which makes mailing it in pretty risky.