Dim speakerphones, emails and etiquette

I fight authority, authority always wins

This morning Twitter washed up a tweet at my feet. It caught my eye and provided inspiration for today’s ramblings.

The tweet said, “Have you ever sent an embarrassing email or text? Find out how can you possibly recover from that?!” And it linked to this post: What to Do After Sending an Embarrassing Text or Email.

That blog did make some good points. Like how easy it is to make honest mistakes and send messages where you didn’t really intend. Oops. Now the main theme of the blog, politeness, is no extra-special concern of mine, but I don’t necessarily enjoy going out of my way to make people upset. For example, I’d actually feel bad if any of the douchebags in my life ever found out what I’d written about them here behind their backs and in front of the whole internet. Touching, eh?

We’ve all made mistakes and routed embarrassing stuff to the wrong place, right? I thought of two examples from my life and I thought I’d share them.

The first involves a speakerphone and happened about 10 to 15 years ago when I worked at a big company. One of my duties was producing work plans based on the needs of another department. It took about two to three hours in a hectic and crazy setting to pump out one of these plans. And I had to do at least one of them per day, sometimes more.

This other department was the Alpha Dog and I was the Omega Dog. That meant I had to take their shit. No matter what. They often changed their minds, made last-minute decisions, and pulled some really stupid crap. This department directly serviced our external customers and would often make amazing concessions and bend the rules to land the sale – of course, at my expense.

So I found myself at the end of the work day. It was time to go home. Another eight hours of my life shot to hell in the name of money. And I had just finished the work plan. The phone rang and it was my boss. She proceeded to tell me that this other department wanted to get some last minute changes in. Changes that would necessitate remaking the work plan. We were way beyond their deadline for submitting changes, and accepting them would mean another two to three hours of work. Gratis, on me, of course, since I was a salaried professional.

Little did I know how legendary the words that were about to come out of my mouth would be.

“I’m sorry, but the answer is no,” I told her. “You can tell that department to rot in hell.

Yes. “Rot in hell.” I said it. Those were my exact words and I am not embellishing or exaggerating in any way shape or form. That’s exactly how it all went down. Oh yeah. Sing it for me, Johnny Cash: I was there when it happened so I guess I oughtta know.

It was at this particular moment that two things happened in quick succession. First, I heard a clicking sound, like a phone hastily being picked up from the base unit. Second, my boss informed me I had been on speakerphone during the entire call and that the department head himself was sitting in her office. And he had heard every word.

Booyah! Slam dunk! FTW! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. LOL! ROFL! Dirty Sanchez!

Speaking about politeness, by the way, isn’t there some etiquette for letting people know when they are on the fucking speakerphone? Perhaps even when discussing something somewhat delicate and the person of interest to that conversation is in the very same fucking room?

Somehow I survived that day and lived on to get into even more trouble.

The second incident isn’t quite as exciting as the first. I happened while working as a programmer for a flighty ecommerce outfit. Oh the stories I could tell about that place. Maybe more on that later.

The owner had set up the email system so all bounced email went directly to him. You can see where this is going, right?

So one day I whip out an email to the head programmer where I called the boss’s wife “a little bit dim.” Not the worst insult of all time, but not something I really wanted to say to her face, either. I then made some sort of typo in the email address (not on purpose) and clicked “send.”

About five seconds later, the boss, who sat just a few feet away, looks over at me and says, “Dude, your email just bounced.”

Oh shit. Snap! No you didn’t!

Yep. I just called his wife “dim” and the email went right to him. I did think she was dim, but she was actually nice, too, so I felt bad. A few apologies and then a few weeks of awkwardness and then all returned mostly to normal.

The moral of these stories is don’t say anything about someone that you aren’t willing to say to their face. And if you still do, be really, really sure you can get away with it. πŸ™‚

Click me for John Cougar music video – Authority Song

11 responses

  1. Funny, after reading the third paragraph I was thinking to myself, “feel bad? He would just tell them to Rot in Hell!”. And, alas, that’s where the story was going.

    Let’s see, I oughta know cuz I was there too. One of the more hilarious moments in my life. At your expense of course. Hang on ….. can’t type… laughing too hard.

    Didn’t you break a phone one day too? Or was it a keyboard? Or a mouse? Ahhhh.. those were the days. I always knew that if at the end of your shift it was looking like you were going to have to stay I wanted to be around just to see what devastation would occur. I don’t know what the problem was…you only had a 3 hour commute home… jeez.


    1. I wondered what your take on this would be. πŸ™‚ The thing I remember the most is … I got away with it! Seriously, who else could have pulled off the “rot in hell” incident?

      But even in that incident I think my point still holds true. If I had actually known I was on speakerphone I never would have made the comment. Maybe I would have said something else, like, “Sharon, pick up the damn phone. Sharon, am I off speaker yet? OK, let me know when. OK. Are you sure? OK. Listen to me carefully now, don’t repeat this but, they seriously need to rot in hell!!!”



  2. I suppose. But, the beauty of that entire moment was that you spoke the truth. SOMEONE needed to tell them to ROT IN HELL!

    You’re the man!!!


  3. it had to be part of you surviving the rot in hell thing that they knew you were right. the wrong was in someone having you on speaker phone without telling you


  4. unabridgedgirl | Reply

    “For example, I’d actually feel bad if any of the douchebags in my life ever found out what I’d written about them here behind their backs and in front of the whole internet. ”

    LMAOROFL Oh, Abyss. Oh. Abyss.


    1. Don’t worry. You are on the good list! πŸ™‚


  5. Here’s my “Oh, No” email. I accidentally sent an email to one of my best friends “A” that whined a bit about her not being able to make a decision, when I had meant to send it to another friend “B” who wanted me to make a decision. In my errant email, I blamed the hold-up on “A”. When I hadn’t heard from “A”, I prodded her with an email. She replied, very frostily, with the original email complaining about her that I had mailed to her by mistake. Yikes! Apparently, “A” had replied to that one earlier, but I’d never received it, strangely. I’m glad I didn’t because apparently “A” ripped me a new one in that reply, but had cooled off by the time I’d written again. Somehow I got away with explaining away my complaint. Now, I try to make sure that I send my emails to the correct recipient, although I can’t say that I always write what I don’t want the whole world to know…. So I guess I didn’t learn my lesson there. πŸ™‚


  6. Yikes, your post and the comment above made me blush in agony for you guys. I (a photojournalist writing for a marijuana magazine) once sent my son to school with a memory stick of my work instead of photos of artwork. To compound the problem the professor just popped them onto the screen without first looking at them.–“my mom writes for Grow Magazine’ is about as good as excuse as my dog ate my homework.


    1. Hilarious! Thanks for visiting, too. Now I’ll always have a link back to your blog. Woot! πŸ™‚


  7. Reblogged this on Shouts from the Abyss and commented:

    The random blast from the past answers the age old question: What is guru like in a corporate environment? This is an especially important read for those who are considering the retainment of my services. By the way, I’m no longer afraid to identify that “alpha dog” department. Yep, it was Advertising. Those motherfuckers. Now the story makes even more sense than before.


  8. Oh, man. Advertising. And you’re still among us to talk about it. You, sir, are resilient.


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