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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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No Reply Is Good Reply

I was catching up on my email at work today, and encountered that most dastardly of work correspondences, the Email to Which You Cannot Possibly Respond.

“He’s the ‘Data Nazi’; even look at him the wrong way and it’s ‘No results for you!‘”

The Email to Which You Cannot Possibly Respond comes in many flavors, of course. It might come from your boss on your off day, asking whether you could possibly stop by the office. Perhaps a coworker has written you, urgently requesting that you take a project off her hands. Or the office manager has emailed to broadcast the license plate — your license plate — of the car that’s been rudely left in the clearly-labeled executive parking area. Certainly, these qualify as Emails to Which You Cannot Possibly Respond.

The mail I received today was just a tad different. It was from a guy in the office — a guy in a support role. He does one thing — one esoteric but necessary, very specialized thing — and by all accounts, he does it quite well. But he’s picky. If you want him to do his thing — to perform his unusual, weird, freakly skill on your data — you’ve got to deliver it just so, in exactly the right format, attached in precisely the specified way, with no special requests, extraneous information, or innocent questions. He’s the ‘Data Nazi’; even look at him the wrong way and it’s ‘No results for you!

And apparently, I’ve crossed him.

Before leaving for vacation, I sent off a couple of requests for our Data Nazi to handle. And, it seems, I broke some unwritten code or other about the manner in which I asked. Maybe the files were attached rather than pasted in, or vice versa. Maybe I wasn’t clear about which project was involved. Maybe, in a subconscious fit of defiance, I addressed the email to ‘Dear Poopyshoes‘. I can’t say, really.

All I know is that I returned from vacation to find an email from the gentleman — a scathing, pedantic, self-righteous bit of fluff, full of ‘I’ve said it a thousand times‘ and ‘shouldn’t you know by now‘ and ‘is this really the best use of my time‘ verbiage.

I assure you, meanwhile, that my transgression — if, indeed, there was one — was trivially minor. I do my best to meet the unreasonable and illogical demands of other people in the office, I really do. Mostly so I can someday justify launching a maniacal reign of terror myself, mind you — but still, I play the game. So whatever it was that set him off was the merest trifle — a typo on a file extension, or forgetting to ask ‘Mother, May I?’ in the requesting email.

I’d like nothing more — particularly since the missive was copied to several other folks in the office food chain — than to respond with an apology couched in subtle, witty sarcasm. ‘I’m truly sorry for my egregious error,‘ I might say, ‘and for the tiny, tiny penis that must have led you to send your email response.

(Okay, so apparently ‘subtle’ sarcasm is out the window. You get the point.)

Believe me, I’ve tried. I started four different responses, cc’ed to all of the original recipients, intended to clear my name as best as possible and point out the man’s blatant overreaction. Sadly, I couldn’t find a way to reply that didn’t start with: ‘Look, bitch‘. Somehow, I don’t think that would highlight my ‘overreaction’ message very well.

Plus, I need this guy. He does one thing, but it’s a thing that no one in the office does, and it happens to be a thing I’m forced to ask for from time to time. Digitally pimpslapping him back would only drive me further up whatever sort of ‘Shit List’ he’s tallying. And that’s a list of shit I can’t afford climbing.

So, I’ve got myself an ‘Email to Which I Cannot Possibly Respond‘. I simply amended my original requests — with no additional text, lest that ‘look, bitch‘ slip out — and sent them back. And now I have to hope I don’t run into the guy for a few days, lest a face-to-face lecture turn into a chocolate swirly that I’d probably (eventually) regret.

Still, that won’t stop me from slipping a couple of Ex-Lax into his coffee, at the next possible opportunity. I didn’t say I wouldn’t get the bastard back — I just said he wouldn’t know it came from me. Paybacks are a bitch, Poopypants. Hope you’ve got a magazine to pass the time.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “No Reply Is Good Reply”

  1. kerry says:

    BWAH HA HA! funny. almost makes me long for the days when i used to work in an office. almost.

  2. Jerry says:


    You should deliver all of your “Look, Bitch” messages in person. Never by e-mail. Too much evidence. Bitch-slap and then deny. It’s fun!

  3. Roofie Raccoon says:

    On the plus side, probably everyone that he cc’d knows he’s a data nazi and totally blew it off.

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