Multiple Email Fails

, , , , | Working | June 11, 2017

(I am a communications specialist for a major university. We help faculty and staff update their websites, put out press releases, etc. The start of each semester is always very busy, so we get stretched thin as people panic. Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone on the same page…)

Staff Director: “We need our website updated TODAY with new content. Urgent.”

IT: “Thank you; someone will respond to you soon.” *to my colleague* “Here is the request. It’s for [URL].”

Colleague: *copying me* “My docket’s full today; have [My Name] do it.”

Me: “I can do this, but what is the content? I didn’t get any attachment.”

(No response.)

Staff Director: *emailing an hour after the initial request* “Please update me. This is urgent.”

Colleague: “[My Name], the request is in the email. It’s for [URL].”

Me: *to colleague* “But what is the content they want added? Could someone forward it to me?” *to Staff Director* “Hi, what do you need updated on the website?”

Colleague: *now copying IT* “It’s in the email.”

Me: *to Colleague and IT* “Was there an attachment with the content? It didn’t come through to me.”

IT: “[My Name], go to [URL]. You have access.”

Colleague: *in separate email* “It’s in the email. IT says you have access to edit the website.”

Me: “I know I do, but what am I putting up? There’s nothing in the email.”

(An hour passes. No response from anyone, until…)

Colleague: “Is this done yet? I can’t do it today. Just read the email. You have access to edit their website.”

Me: “What am I editing?!”

Staff Director: *two hours later* “Hi, [My Name], thanks for emailing. Please post immediately. This is urgent.”

(I finally got the document they wanted “urgently” to be put on their website. It takes only a couple of minutes to do so. An hour later…)

Supervisor: “Hey, could one of you handle this? It’s urgent.”

(It’s the same request.)

Me: *emailing everyone at once* “Yes, this one is done.”

Colleague: *responding to my email* “[My Name], everything you need is in the email. Just contact [Staff Director] to find out what the information is.”

Me: *head-desk*

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  • EJ Nauls-Poland

    And it’s because of reasons like this that I will never work in IT.

    • Clint

      Working university IT always seems to be its own special kind of stupid.

      • The Vicar

        Only a few schools actually have good IT people. I went to a good one for my undergraduate degree, then went to another school and their IT department was impressively terrible — as in “the person who was the e-mail system administrator did not know what SMTP was”. The fact that the head of their IT department was an awful human being may have had something to do with it.

  • Souless night

    My god… it’s like working with sloths…

    • Vulpis

      Except sloths would actually read what they were sent. Slowly, but they’d read it.

  • Michaela Ames

    Get this all the time at work when people don’t read emails properly. It’s not difficult and the fact it’s written down should prevent confusion, not add to it. 😡

    • Phil Peligroso

      I find that “email management” (I can’t find a better term for that) is often a pretty good indicator of the value of a coworker, employee or superior. If they can’t manage that, they mostly are idiots.

      Like people who will only answer the last of the 4 questions you asked them in your email. I hate those people.

  • Lord Circe

    I’ve had this same experience at work. So many people seem to think that hitting Reply keeps the attachments, and refuse to take the time to actually send the attachment when they “know you have it”.

    • Harold George Wagner III

      That would be “Forward” which keeps the attachments, not “Reply” lol

      • Novelista

        His Lordship’s point exactly! xD

  • Cathina Haynes

    This story has more characters than Hamlet.

  • Dani

    Christ I got stressed out just reading this. That sucks, OP.

  • Cristian Ilkka

    Getting everyone on the same page is even harder if you’re on different books altogether. In different libraries. On different continents.

    • Bonnie Seaberg

      It wouldn’t be a problem if you were in the biggest library in the universe. Just don’t go into the shadows…

      • AThornAmongRoses

        I understood that reference 😉

      • Novelista

        I can’t decide if that’s Librarians (which I barely pay attention to) or Library at Mount Char (which I haven’t read yet). (Or perhaps something else entirely!)

        • Illogically

          If I’m right, it’s Doctor Who. There was an episode with a library that was an entire planet, but there were creatures that lived in the shadows that were basically alien piranhas – anyone who went in the shadows was eaten in seconds. Made horrifying by the part where their suits saved the last few seconds of brain activity and kept them ‘alive’ for a few minutes past death. “Hey! Who turned out the lights?”

          • Novelista

            Of course it was Who. xD

          • Hahn Ackles

            I thought it was Discworld at first, honestly. XD

            …I kinda wish it had been, Silence in the Library gave me nightmares for weeks…

          • Yohannes Setiadji

            LOL. So I guess I’m the only one who thought it’s the library that was shown at the end of Game of Thrones season 6.

          • AThornAmongRoses

            Vashta Nerada! Poor Miss Evangelista, she deserved better from everybody :'(

      • Katherine

        Spoilers!

      • Barroness

        Hey, who turned out the lights

      • Barroness

        Hey, who turned out the lights…

      • Barroness

        Hey, who turned out the lights….

    • Ronald M Bisnett

      I saw a guy whining online about how everyone in a city was stupid and awful because no one wanted to do stuff, with a link to some failed Meetup he was “planning”. The whole thing was a jumbled, stream-of-consciousness, mess about local music and older bands and it gave an address to what looked like it could be his home and a time. Shocking as it might seem, people started asking what the Meetup was supposed to actually entail. His only reply was, “I made it pretty clear, just read my post already.” The two most obvious candidates would be either listening to music, or just discussing music, but even those would be a stretch from the word diarrhea in his post. He’d also tried to schedule it the weekend of a fairly popular music festival that had gotten so big by then that other, older, well-established, community events rescheduled their dates so as not to conflict.

      OTOH – you could technically say everyone (else) was on the same page. The whole group figured the organizer was nuts and wanted nothing to do with him.

  • Kitty

    RTFM, people! RTFM!

  • Asiyd

    I would probably end up getting myself fired because I would start responding back with nothing but “Are you even listening to what I’m asking?” until they finally got the hint XD

    • NessaTameamea

      I would start writing random stuff like “I have a rubber ducky named Roberta” or “yesterday i saw a cloud shaped like a turtle” or “my unicorn ate my lunch and got diarrhea and now my office is full of rainbows”

      • Asiyd

        AHAHA!!! I think I’ve changed my mind, I think I’d do this instead, too. XD

      • Yohannes Setiadji

        Usually they use “lorem ipsum ….” as text replacements.

  • termt

    Just reading this hurt.

  • Megalodon

    UGHH! Reminds me so much of one of my bosses. Getting info I need from her is like pulling teeth! I have a job where I illustrate medical stuff, patients who’ve had injuries and/or surgeries, etc. I need all sorts of things to even get started, and if I send her an email asking, say, three things: “What is the patient’s skin color? How many illustrations do they want? What’s the deadline for this case?” I’ll get back a reply email that says, “Patient is white.” AND THAT’S IT. She’ll most often answer maybe one in three questions I ask her. It’s clear she just wants to shove the case my way and then never have to think about it again, and for some reason actually GIVING me the material I need to do the work is some huge hassle for her.

  • Nic

    Does your university do adult literacy courses? Only I think some of your coworkers might need them…

  • J Haul

    This is why, when email obviously fails, you pick up the phone. Works like a charm.

    • Larry Berry

      “* is in a meeting. Would you like to leave a message?”

    • Will

      “Hello? Yes, this is [name]. The content is in the e-mail. It is urgent! Thank you, bye.” *click*

  • RallyLock

    These people have obviously never heard the saying “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.

    • Rob Tonka

      But in this case, there was only one cook. He could not get anyone to tell him what groceries to buy to toss in the pot.

      • RallyLock

        First – I can’t tell if you also have never heard that saying, or if you’re just “trolling” me – because if you are trolling, you’re pretty bad at it.

        Second (and the reason why, if you are trolling, you’re pretty bad at it) – a good cook buys their own groceries, instead of relying on someone else to do it for them. If someone else does buy the groceries, the cook is the one who tells that person what to buy – not the other way around (with the exception of cooks in any sort of chain restaurant, because those people aren’t creating their own dishes – they’re just following the corporate checklist). Even at top-notch restaurants, the head chef is usually responsible for sourcing and ordering the various menu items and ingredients.

        • Rob Tonka

          Heard the saying. Not trolling. The OP was the cook. He was the one doing the work/cooking. No one else was doing the work/cooking. Everyone else was pretty much “placing the order”, but not actually being clear with what they were ordering.

  • Cody Ranney

    “Hey boss I’m going to take a smoke break” *goes outside and just yells*

    • Bethlyn Kerchner

      Alternately: “I thought you don’t smoke?” “I DO NOW!”

  • What we have here is a failure to communicate.

  • Kai

    This is your first problem:
    Colleague: *copying me* “My docket’s full today; have [My Name] do it.”
    That’s our supervisor’s decision. Not having anyone responsible for making sure work gets done would be problem 0.

  • Mickeyten

    It’s amazing how everything is urgent until you need the slightest modicum of effort from the end user, and then suddenly it isn’t urgent any more.

  • Rob Tonka

    At some point, a lot sooner than this took, I would have picked up the phone and called colleague or walked over to his desk.