A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

30 January 2007

Have You Ever?

My workplace sometimes gets articles from contributors. One such person is a guy I'll call "Topper". Topper is a bugger to edit. He'll send you the copy, then spend ages making changes as you're trying to fit it to the publications it's going into.

My co-worker, "George" gets the brunt of this. And he's not the most positive of fellows in the first place. I might call him "resistant to change". In other words, the two are a pairing from hell.

This morning George found in his mailbox a note from Topper asking for changes to an article that had been formatted and sent to the layout department. George has recently had to cope with a ten percent jump in his workload due to an expansion in our product line. And since we've had some fairly radical staff and organizational changes lately, the enterprise has been sailing toward the falls in a cocked hat; none of which has done anything to impprove George's state of mind.

So George decided to send Topper's note to "Caroline" in the editorial department. Irritably he clicked "respond" and wrote:
Hi Caro: Topper's just sent me another e-mail. I don't know how to respond to him. Could you please get him off my back?
--Then he clicked "send".

Which, my Avid Fan will know, is where it all went pear-shaped. For as noted, he hadn't clicked "forward", but "respond". So suddenly this fairly mild plea between friends was going to exactly the one person who shouldn't be seeing it.

George freaked. If I had suggested that yanking the telecom cord from the wall would have resulted in the message dribbling onto the floor in a pool of blue internet fluid, I think he would have done it.

He literally scurried around the office for a few minutes before phoning Caroline asking whatinhell was he going to do?

At time of writing he is explaining to Topper's answering machine.

What would you do, O Avid Fan? The question is academic now, but I've had too many close shaves not to keep a fistful of panic control strategies on hand. Ideas and suggestions for next time will be welcomed.


At 11:27 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metro Man:

The answer is rather quite simple. For a nominal fee, say $500, it can be arranged that Topper will no longer be a bug in George's burning arse. It occasionally pays to have friends in low places, MM. For you, good friend, a discount may be in the offing.

From one of your 'avid fans.'

At 1:15 p.m., Anonymous PJ said...

I think that's happened to everyone at least once. My sister in Ontario was emailing me about a guy she had dated a few times. He wouldn't leave her alone. She wrote, "He's pathetic! He has bad breath and dandruff but I'm too polite to say anything; he's so obnoxious and needy that I just want this loser out of my life!" And of course instead of sending it to me, she accidentally sent it to him. Oh well, solved that problem...

At 3:58 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two neat tricks for this situation:

1) Super-secret ninja-sneaky. Outlook can recall or replace emails, but can't always do it. If the recipient has already read it, for example. Worse, Outlook will notify the recipient that you tried to recall it. Just to add salt. The bonus is that if it works they never knew you sent it.

2) Just plain cunning. Flood their inbox. After realising your error, alter the already sent email to remove the offending points and replace them with something less damaging. Keep the exact same subject line. Send this email several more times. The recipient will read the most recent email first (one of the safe ones) tab down and assume that the others are all the same and delete them. 95% of the time they will never find and read the contents of the bad email.

- Envelope Filter

At 1:49 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Monsieur Metro

Das deDammen und das geBlasten

George is clearly not a Politician. As Trinity said to Neo "It's the question that drives us" :

Frage "What do you do when the Chips are down ?"

Antwort "The Knack is to make sure they never come down"

Once upon a time, an English Tourist drove up to an Irishman and said :

"Good morning, my man, could you oblige me by indicating how I can drive to BallyKissAngel !"

Paddy Irishman paused for Irish thought and gave the Rooinek the benefit of his sagacious Counsel :

"Begorrah" Paddy Irishman said

In an Oirish Accent he then added :

"Well, if I was goin' to BallyKissAngel, I wouldn't start from here"

To an Inspiring Editor, I am obliged to apologize for the SHOCKING misuse in a conditional sentence of the indicative "was" (instead of the subjunctive "were"), but it does not seem to have been an Irish priority to follow the Latin Grammar imposed on English by Jane Austen & her literary predecessors

Your obedeint servant etc


At 10:14 a.m., Blogger Philipa said...

Dear Topper, I realise I have made a mistake and pressed 'respond' instead of 'forward' on receipt of your message of the xth inst. I would like to apologise for the undoubtable misunderstanding on your part this must have caused. Please allow me to explain that I wrote 'Could you please get him off my back?' rather than 'can you please deal with this?' as the former would make this gorgeous female feel as if she is coming to my rescue, rather than the latter, which would make her feel she is doing my job for no more money. I am snowed under and need to delegate, and also quite find the lady in question very attractive.

As a seasoned and intelligent man of the world I trust you understand my motives, and apologise again for any upset I may have caused you in my attempt to hasten a reply.

yours sincerely,


At 11:18 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Monsieur Metro


Having seen the latest brilliant Post from the Gourmet-Predator Philipa (the terror of Tree Oktopodia, apprehensive of being exploited as a tasty alternative to battered Spam) ...

I can see why the Female is regarded as more devious than the male

With her exculpatory talents, why hasn't she been snapped up by Mr Blair

Your obedient servant etc

At 9:20 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

How about emailing him again and saying, "Look Topper, sometimes you're really a pain in the ass. Like now. The article is gone. I am not calling it back from its grand adventure at the printers to satisfy your twenty-fifth-hour regrets. In the future, in order to avoid upsetting not only your editor (me) but yourself and everyone in the BCC list [this will make him paranoid about how many people know he tried to pull this, you see] please make sure that when you hand in the piece it's ready to go. Thank you.

[that Envelope Filter is one sneaky guy. Must remember those tips]

At 1:43 a.m., Anonymous G Eagle Esq said...

Dear RegenCoaster

Isn't this a high-risk strategy - rather like our Friend AerChie'sRainCoater cartoons

Your ob servant etc


At 8:42 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

It turns out that in this particular instance, it was slightly worse than that.

A gentleman had apparently written a questioning letter regarding an earlier-published piece, and Topper was writing in to ask "What did he mean by X?" What do you think of Y?" and "Should we maybe Z?", none of which was within the purview of George.

At 4:57 a.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

"Why don't you ask him. It'll take him three days to get a restraining order"

And G. Eagle, if there's one thing I know as a writer, it's that there's always another one breathing down your neck, ready to take your job. Writers are disposable. I gather this isn't the second coming of Hemingway.


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