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Tell on me (1) Wed, Dec 19, 2007
Yesterday, I received an email at work that looked like this: 
Subject:  URGENT Safety Alert
To:  Everyone
Attachments:  Safety.doc

Please read, post and execute immediately. 
Thank you.
Like I've said before, if you don't take the time to write a good email, I won't take the time to read it.  If you tell me to read an attachment for some "urgent" or "important" information, I'll ignore it simply because it's in an attachment. 

Just for fun, I looked at the attachment.  It was about ice on the sidewalks and how we should be careful to not break our skulls open so nobody gets sued.  Appropriate, yet stupid.  The contents of the message could have been easily summarized in one line:  "Watch out for ice on the sidewalks."  Done.  Again just for fun, I replied to the email and said this: 
Subject:  RE: URGENT Safety Alert
To:  Original Sender

If it's that urgent, why put it in an attachment?  People are less likely to read an attachment than the actual body of an email message.
I phrased it in such a way as to come across as a semi-criticism while not sounding too mean (since I don't even know this person).  I also only replied to the original sender because it wasn't appropriate for a reply-all.  I sat back in my chair and snickered. 

About an hour later, I got a response: 
Subject:  RE: URGENT Safety Alert
To:  Me
Cc:  My boss; my boss's boss; her boss; her boss's boss

The reason for sending an attachment is that [some group] in [some department] wanted to accentuate the urgency of the matter with descriptive lettering.  Also, our e-mail system does not allow us to use anything other than Rich Text format. 

Since you have taken the time to ask the question, I've taken the time to answer it.
My heart stopped when I read the Cc line.  She told on me.  She replied to not only my boss, but to my boss's boss, a person I haven't even met because he's too important.  People lose their jobs for less than this.  I was a bit scared to say the least. 

But then I thought about it.  I hoped to get a reply from my boss's boss saying something like, "Yo lady, what's your problem?  You're telling on this guy for some petty little bullcrap?  Grow up."  I didn't get a response from anybody (yet).  Feeling proactive, I went to tell my boss to expect the email in his mail box, but he had already read it.  And he was laughing.  He said to not worry about it and proceeded to tell me a story about a guy who sent an angry email to the biggest boss in the place, and even he didn't lose his job.  I was relieved.  I said, "If I knew I was dealing with a child, I wouldn't have sent that email." 

In conclusion, a great way to get me to hate you is to tell on me. #technology

Comments:
Rus Wed, Dec 19, 2007
The dynamics of email are quite fascinating and complex.  I will be writing a book someday explaining all the power, often misused, that email can hold.  I one person here at work that receive little respect from others because he marks everything as urgent and CCs his boss as well. 

In this case, this young(?) lady dis-empowered herself by trying to tell on you.  If not before, you probably have more respect now from her boss and her boss's boss than they have for her.  Ha!


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