I’ve noticed something odd around the office lately. Maybe it always happens, and I’ve just begun to notice. Or maybe it’s a new strategy for influencing peoples’ behavior, or covering one’s ass via email. And maybe it’s high time I actually told you what the hell it is I’m referring to.
Fine. I’m getting to it. You don’t have to be so pushy about it.
“I’ve never been sure how to feel about ‘warm regards’ in the first place. Are these regards that were in the oven, and have now cooled enough to touch?”
The thing is this: I’ve noticed that as the amount of work requested in an email increases, so does the length — and warmth — of the final signoff. It has little to do with the actual gratitude expressed in the body of the message — some people gush profusely for a small favor, while others ask for the moon without bothering to offer thanks — but always the last line before the signature reveals the magnitude of the task involved. I’ve gotten to the point where that’s the first thing I read in an email, just so I know what’s coming.
Take my usual batch of work emails, for instance. Most are memos or meeting announcements, that sort of thing. Innocent stuff; real ‘no action necessary’ material. You skim to the bottom of those emails, and you’ll see a lot of ‘Thanks,’ or ‘Yours,’ maybe the odd ‘Sincerely,’. But that’s it. Nothing personal or flowery to suggest that real effort is going to be asked of you. Most of these wind up in the virtual trash bin.
(Occasionally, I’ll keep one that ends in ‘Yours’, if it’s from someone I know, because it’s fun to think about having your own personal lackey to command around. I take things literally that way sometimes.
Unfortunately, the senders of the emails do not, as a rule. I ‘commanded’ one of them to get me a cup of coffee once, and they pennied me into my office. If the janitorial staff hadn’t come in over the weekend, I might still be locked in there. Personal lackeys aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, I’ve found.)
Next, you get the closings meant for one person specifically. These are fine, so long as they’re not overly wordy — or if they happen to be pointed in someone else’s direction. So a ‘Best Wishes,’ or ‘Cheers,’ or ‘Thanks,’ is usually okay, if you’re the intended recipient. But if you see ‘Many Thanks,’ or ‘You’re the Best,’ or ‘Warm Regards,’ then be afraid. Be very afraid. Or hope to hell you’re only being cc’ed.
(I’ve never been sure how to feel about ‘warm regards’ in the first place. Are these regards that were in the oven, and have now cooled enough to touch? Or are they room-temperature regards that sat out too long, and now they’ve gotten all swampy? Are regards best stored in a cool, dry place until use?
I’m frankly a little uneasy about handling another person’s ‘regards’, no matter the temperature. We’d have to exchange a whole lot of ‘sincerely’s before I’d be comfortable with any of that business.)
Of course, this was all just an amusing little observation until this afternoon. About an hour ago, sitting at my desk, I received an email from the head of our department. It was addressed to me, with several other people cc’ed on the note. The message was six or eight paragraphs long, so I buzzed to the bottom, fully expecting to find a nice ‘Thanks,’ or ‘Regards’ there. Instead, I found this:
‘Many thanks with warmest regards and all the best wishes,‘
Ho. Lee. Crap.
I didn’t even attempt to read the rest of the email; I bolted from my chair and ran screaming into the bathroom. I’ve been holed up here in a toilet stall ever since, with a nice big fort of toilet paper rolls barricading the door. I’m prepared to stay in here forever — or at least until I can feel my legs again, seeing as how they fell asleep ten minutes into my ordeal. But if anyone finds me here, I’m prepared to beg, bribe or abduct them to avoid having to read that email. Or worse, do whatever it’s asking of me.
Better to live as a numb-legged toilet-paper-eating hermit than to deal with something that closes with that bombshell above. Not to mention that it includes ‘warmest regards’. I might need an oven mitt to deal with those things. Or an extra-long set of tongs. Yow.Permalink | 1 Comment