Does anyone remember this post from a few months back on the “tyranny” of email? aka “Reply-all will be the death of me”? I was just again talking to someone about the pleasure of being unable to check one’s email while on vacation and it got me thinking about out-of-office messages.
There was a wonderful story in the New York Times last month called “The Art of the Out-of-Office Reply,” that details some of the variety of approaches people take to discourage the pile-up of messages. I recognized myself in one of the more wishy-washy ones: “frank admissions that the person on the other end of the email is actually available in some way, just less likely than usual to respond to you.”
But two alternatives really stood out. First:
“For the Dallas Morning News book critic Michael Merschel, a recent trip was an opportunity to do many things at once with his out-of-office. The first few sections covered the usual territory, including a few admonishments about how and who to correctly pitch.
For recipients curious enough to continue scrolling down, though, there was a heartfelt explanation of the reason for his absence: ‘I want you to imagine a middle-aged man who fell in love with a beautiful baby girl almost 18 years ago, and now he is driving her to a gigantic college in a distant city filled with all kinds of people who do the things people do at college … and he has to leave her there. And drive home alone. In the dark. In a minivan.'”
Shivers! Get the kleenex. How wonderful is that?!
“Correspondents who tried emailing The Toast editor and Texts From Jane Eyre author Mallory Ortberg in July received an email with the subject line ‘nope.’ ‘I am currently on vacation and not accepting any emails about anything. I’m not planning on reading any old emails when I get back, either, because that feels antithetical to the vacation experience.'”
Wow. Something to think about come holiday season—or the next time an out-of-office is warranted.
Some more items of note…