It started at work, with a Happy Birthday email addressed to ‘Beverly’ titled ‘Yo Bev!’
Who the hell is Beverly?
I assumed the initial email was likely sent to a massive group of people throughout the company — if not everyone. One thousand plus emails later, I felt I jinxed myself.
I shuffled through the emails, deleting them one by one — Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday. There were important emails stuffed in between the garbage, some pending urgent responses. There was no end to the messages.
How many people did this Beverly know? Why was I on this email?
When will it end?
Beverly’s Birthday Wishes were stale and kind at the same time, hoping she had the greatest day of her life, so on and so forth. Others demanded immediate removal from the email chain. As if they thought some powerful email forces would take note, shuffle through thousands of names and remove each of them one by one, per request. Not today, your Majesty.
My annoyance was building. I imagined myself responding with the most powerful reply to end all replies; everyone would see it sweep across their screens, blown away at their desks like the man in the Maxell “Blown Away Guy” advertisement.
Damn. Kirsten’s badass, they’d whisper in shock and awe.
But I would only add to the influx of everyone’s inboxes and further infuriate others. Likely for the soft hints of sarcasm I wouldn’t be able to contain. Instead, I promoted myself to armchair expert for the day, gathered the juiciest responses to the ‘Yo Bev!’ email and analyzed their hidden meanings.
“I don’t know how this happened, but you have people from Middlefield, OH on this email chain…”
This employee has pride in their town. More than likely he grew up there, married his childhood sweetheart, nuclear family. I pictured Middlefield as a delightful town chock full of wholesome values where nothing happens — the good life. If something went awry, the town Sheriff would solve it within a half hour.
“I don’t know who Beverly is, sorry.”
Who asked if you did? This individual is in the upper echelon of the employee hierarchy. Beverly? Birthday? Those things don’t exist in my air. Begone peasant email. Shoo, shoo.
“I would appreciate it if ‘Reply All’ is not selected when replying as it is very disruptive.” (With their boss and the initial senders boss carbon copied)
They expose the guilty party, getting off on the thought of their co-workers’ punishment. They’re the ones who refresh their inbox, eager for the reply. They draft several responses, an arsenal of comebacks and put-downs ready to go, preparing to battle in a war they’ll mainly fight in their head.
“Not sure how I was added to this thread, but Happy Birthday!”
This individual works from home and does nothing, but doesn’t want to be exposed and lose their chill lifestyle. They maintain the illusion of consistent productivity by responding to random emails as proof they did something at work. With so many witnesses available, why miss out on a golden opportunity?
“I seem to have been put on this list in error, who is in charge of compiling this list?”
She’s upset and there’s a great chance she’ll file a complaint to Human Resources. Who is in charge of this list? I demand your head! She wants a word with the owner of “The List”. She wants to rip them out root and stem for the travesties that befell her inbox and return justice and honor to the workplace.
“Here we go again, Happy Anniversary Bannon!”
I know what they’re up to with these responses. Let me reply all too, so I can show that I know everyone keeps responding on purpose and be snarky about it.
“Happy Birthday Beverly from the office in Ireland!”
Oh wow, this email reached us, this far away? They must care! Employees halfway across the world from the main office are clearly forgotten. The subtle mention of their location serves as a striking reminder of their distance and their desire to keep the lines of communication open. Layoffs are likely ahead.
“Please remove me,” and “Same”
These two are slightly different and quite similar at the same time.
Please remove me: This employee is just business, no time to explain. Harsh, but understands the power of tiny pleasantries such as ‘Please’ and the occasional smiley may help to soften the bluntness of their request.
Same: These employees piggyback off the ones who already requested to be removed. They’re in too much of a hurry to explain further, or question why they received the email. They don’t celebrate birthdays because time doesn’t exist. They are robots who want to move on from their piece of lettuce for lunch, work their 17th hour straight supported by countless energy drinks while sacrificing time with family and friends to work toward that big promotion.
I kid. I kid.
I should be grateful, I spent the greater part of my day laughing at the fact everyone was doing the same thing that they wanted to avoid. It was better than letting it annoy me and consume my mood. Besides, I ended the day with egg on my face as well with the discovery of the ‘Ignore’ button. All I had to do was select one of the responses and they’d all filter straight to the deleted items folder. Duh.
I could’ve done this with the first email and went about my day undisturbed. Ah well. One thing I learned as I got older is to make light of life’s little surprises.
Most things aren’t worth getting upset over.