The Email Shower

Nothing defines corporate life as well as the proliferation of email messages crisscrossing the length and breadth of an organization. So pervasive is the phenomenon that in many companies, or at least in sections of many companies, no one “talks” to anyone else in non-email mode.

Emails can be as powerful as a nuclear device – with a single stroke of a finger (or click of a mouse, if you will), you can destroy many a family weekend, a romantic dinner or even an entire vacation. All it takes is a one-liner, “Call me.   D” (for dramatic effect, the boss signs, if at all, with only the first initial), safely and securely, and in an untimely manner, delivered to your smart phone. Of course the boss is not available to take the call even after you have tried calling till your phone battery is dead.

There are many innovative uses of the email weapon, limited only by your imagination. Here are a few that come to my mind:

  • You prove you are working by the steady stream of well-timed emails
  • You preempt any deadlines by repeatedly promising to deliver anything and everything the following day
  • You create or redirect work to others so that you have time for, yes, more emails
  • You cause the company server to crash with larger than life attachments
  • You never delete any of the earlier messages in the thread and frequently refer to something that is hundreds of levels deep in the thread
  • You never ever forget to ‘reply all’

Emails are self-perpetuating in nature – an email begets another one (or more). Like a race to the bottom, there are email competitions as to who will outlast whom. Let us follow one such chain:

Liz: Brian, could you please email me the proposal that we sent to Allied Traders last week?

Brian: I am in a meeting for the next thirty minutes – marking this to Kate to take action.

Kate (to Brian and Liz): Got it. Will jump on it right away.

Liz: Thanks Brian and Kate.

Brian: Not a problem. Still busy at the meeting (while also acknowledging several other such emails)

Kate: Always happy to help, Brian.

Liz (after 3 minutes): Kate, any progress?

Kate: Liz, my computer just froze – will wait for the tech guy to show up.

Brian (still busy at the meeting): Kate, try rebooting in the meanwhile.

Jason (the tech guy): Which floor and section are you in? Your laptop does not seem to be registered with us.

Liz (email spray): Can anyone else help with the document – please….

Random Guy-1: I can probably fix Kate’s computer.

Brian: I am really sorry Liz, the meeting is going way beyond its scheduled time.

Liz: Thanks Brian – appreciate your concern.

Kate: Hey!!! My computer is up.

Brian: Good job, Kate.

Jason: Kate, could you please close your service call request?

Brian: Jason, I will take care of it, as soon as I am out of the meeting. Kate, please fetch Liz’s document as soon as possible.

Kate: I am on it……

Liz: I just got the document.

Kate: But I have not yet sent it.

Liz: Let me see…… Random Guy-3 sent it. Does anyone know who he is? Anyway, thanks everyone.

Brian: Thank you Liz.

Brian: Thank you Kate.

Kate: Thank you Brian – much appreciate your support.

Jason: Can someone please close the support ticket? Thanks.

Brain: On it buddy…..

Kate: Brian, thanks a lot for taking care of this ticket.

Brain: Not a problem Kate.

Kate: Thanks.

Brian: You are welcome.

(Random Guy-3, who actually sent the document, and is an inadvertent “cc” in all these exchanges, wonders, “What the hell is going on?”)

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4 thoughts on “The Email Shower

  1. Curious if there will every be a movement in the corporate world to revert back to a less decentralized way of life in an effort to stop this “death by email” phenomenon….how many of these crazy situations could be avoided by sometimes just waiting for someone to get into the office and having a 10 minute meeting in person?

  2. I’m the oddball because I actually like emails, but obviously I like to write. Phone calls are disruptive and person-to-person doesn’t allow for time to think about the appropriate response. I think some people don’t like to use Delete, so their mailbox gets out of control. I would never want to revert back to phones and office memos.

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