Waking up to a flood of emails is never a good sign. I immediately fear that I've missed my start time at work and hundreds of people are sitting around cursing me.
But when my smartphone is also flashing an enormous number of texts and missed calls, I brace myself further, as I have learned the hard way that this usually means someone I love is in trouble. Or worse.
She hadn't called. So the trouble wasn't in my family.
I next went to email and was confounded to see notes from my kids' baby sitters and my college roommates, as well as from an exterminator and the head of a movie studio. I finally just opened the most recent email --from a comedian I barely know. She joked about my "mugging in Spain" and refused "my heavy-handed request for money," but wondered if she might crash in my Spanish hotel room to ogle Latin men.
Which translates, in non-comicspeak, to: My email address book had been hacked.
I've received these emails before. They come from friends' email addresses and say they are traveling in Africa/Whales/Spain and have been robbed. They and their family can't get on their flight home until they pay their hotel bill, but with have no credit cards or cash . . . could I wire money?
The first I ever received was from a woman I assumed must have been really be in dire straits because we were just work acquaintances. I wrote her tout de suite, asking where to send money. When she wrote back a quick note saying she wasn't in Africa, that her email had been hacked and please not to send any money anywhere, I realized how ridiculous the whole thing was -- and that I had probably made it worse by adding to a lengthy list of emails she would have to answer immediately.
But that was years ago. Since then, I have received 10 of these emails, as well as auditioned for a movie about the premise. So, I was not surprised by the multiple communications from my peers saying, "Hey change your password, your emails gone rogue" and "Girl, you have cyber VD."
I did have a worry about my not-so-computer-dependant family members who might believe this is real. And, low and behold, there was a message from my Dad saying he was on his way to the bank.
But before I could even call Pops, I was jaw-dropped as I read a plethora of other email subject lines like, "I have $1,000 for you" and "I can get to a wire transfer place in one hour."
I would be lying if I said my first thought was anything other than how many hours I was going to waste writing back to all these people. And that my next was how annoying it would be to close this email address.
But somewhere in multitude of the "I'm gonna call my mom and ask her to loan me the money so I can send it to you" emails, my heart opened.
Opened to the fact that I had offers for money from the first wife of a family friend whom I lost in their divorce. And the estranged bridesmaid from my wedding whom I hadn't talked to in years. And the high school exchange student who stayed with my family 25 YEARS AGO who called from Italy, wanting my hotel address so she could send her husband over to Spain to get me. Twenty-five years later!
No less a group of parents at my kids' preschool held an impromptu, emergency meeting to figure out how to send me a collective fund. As did a seperate group of teachers at the same time.
Can I just address the elephant in the room that as a television actress, I am well paid, and yet schoolteachers -- the most underpaid professionals in America -- were not the least bit flummoxed that I seemed to be asking them for money? And they were willing to send it.
I sent a blanket email to everyone I know in cyberspace and apologized for the inconvenience, thanked them for their offers, gave out my new email address -- and closed the account within 50 minutes to be sure no money was sent.
My one regret is not the 2 1/2 days spent trying to undo the mess and restore my address book, but that I closed the hacked account so fast. I'd like to have gone back and reread all those love letters that a hustler accidentally gifted me.
(Diane Farr is known for her roles in "Californication," "Numb3rs" and "Rescue Me," and as the author of "Kissing Outside the Lines." You can read her blog at getdianefarr.com, follow her on twitter.com/getdianefarr or contact her on facebook.com/getdianefarr.)