It was an easy walk to Gwen’s compartment: downstairs to seven-tenths gravity, fifty meters “forward” to her number—I rang.
Her door answered, “This is the recorded voice of Gwen Novak. I’ve gone to bed and am, I hope, happily asleep. If your visit is truly an emergency, deposit one hundred crowns via your credit code. If I agree that waking me is justified, I will return your money. If I disagree — laugh, chortle, chuckle! — I’ll spend it on gin and keep you out anyhow. If your call is not an emergency. please record a message at the sound of my scream.”
This was followed by a high scream which ended abruptly as if a hapless wench had been choked to death.
«The Cat Who Walks Through Walls» by Robert A. Heinlein
I’m currently planning to do a vacation, an actual one, not an academic one. And thinking about actually getting some much-needed distance from work (love the university, but I’m beginning to get burned out), I was reminded of Gwen Novak’s doorbell in “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls” by Robert A. Heinlein. There also was an old add that worked similarly, with coins, but the same principle.
And thinking about it, I think it would be easy to modify it to eMail communication — using PayPal:
Thank you for your eMail — I will not read it until … .
I’m currently on vacation — a real vacation, not an academic one — so I will not read any eMails on this account.
If you have an issue that is really important (not just urgent) for you *and* for me, you can reach me via a modified Novak-method (Heinlein, 1985, p. 9).
Transfer 4,50€ to the following paypal-account:
Make sure to leave a short message (what it’s about) and leave a contact eMail address. I’ll get notified of the payment within a day.
If I agree that the issue is actually important for me, I will reject the payment (you should get your money back) and contact you. If not, I will keep the money (accept the payment) and have a drink on your unwarranted interruption — with your money.
In any case, if it’s still an issue by then, I’ll get back to you in the week after the … .
Heinlein, R. A. (1985). The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. A Comedy of Manners. New York: Ace Books.
Frankly, it could work, it could work really well. And 4.5€ is still below the level mentioned in the anti-corruption guidelines.
Hmm, worth a thought. 😉