When Good Computers Go Bad
originally written Nov 17, 2006 & published at Associated Content. Presented here with minor edits.
Email is the blessing and bane of daily life. Get too much and you can’t get any real work done because you’re just replying to emails. Get none and you start wondering if the pink slip is the next message you will receive. When emails start to drive you mad, take your revenge creatively with these suggestions.
Fun with acronyms
Every industry or company has their own language. One of the unfortunate side effects of jargon is that common phrases turn into acronyms. Honestly, most people in the company have no idea what 99% of the acronyms represent. So make some up and put them in the signature of your emails.
I once managed a mailing list of about 300 people that used a particular computer system. Monthly or weekly communications were my responsibility and I would sign every email with “MOBTAS LOAIS” under my name. After 18 months and hundreds of emails, only one lady ever asked me what the acronym meant. Everyone else either ignored it, thought it was some project code, or was too proud to admit they didn’t know. The lady who finally called me on it had a good laugh when I told her it stood for “Master of Both Time and Space. Lord of all I Survey.”
Be creative, but not crude with your acronyms. A wonderful alternative to this is to remove all vowels from your emails completely. Oddly, they remain readable.
Translate before sending
Use a free on-line translation service like Google Translate or Free Translation to translate your text into a foreign language. I like to use Dutch or Norwegian. Don’t use Spanish or French since everyone learned a little of those in high school. Non-Latin alphabet languages don’t work well for this game. You might try sending one to yourself just to check the resulting format and font.
When the bewildered response comes, translate your reply again. When you finally get the inevitable phone call from the befuddle recipient, insist that you are sending plain English and the problem must be on their end. Tell them to check their software settings. Recommend they uninstall and reinstall their email client or operating system. Be adamant that they must have some strange font installed on their computer. When they say, “But it only happens to your emails,” tell them it must be a virus that soon will spread to other emails. Convince them to unplug from the network until help arrives.
Include a recording
Record yourself reading the email text and attach the sound file to the email. This is actually a really helpful tip if the recipient is blind, but it’s fun for the sighted, too. Where does the really fun part come in? Record something other than the email text and attach it.
Imagine an email with very dry, technical, run-of-the-mill facts in the text with a recording of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” attached. You might even attach a paranoid, lunatic rant, including Biblical, prophetic citations of the end of the world. Ramble at length about how your dog is stealing your girlfriend and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are tunneling under your house every morning at 3 o’clock.
It really confuses them if you sent a few recordings that match the text and then suddenly attach a recording of Hamlet’s soliloquy to your monthly report. Pairing “fourth quarter sales are up 8%” with a recording of your best falsetto Lady Macbeth’s “out, out damned spot” speech is always a boardroom winner.
Add a Legal Disclaimer
By reading this email you acknowledge from henceforth and in perpetuity to:
- Wash the sender’s car on alternate odd Saturdays.
- Profess to the world on every Federal holiday, the sender’s genius.
- Love the sender’s dog even when it has the mange.
- Refer to the sender as “Loretta” on Wednesdays.
Wait a few weeks, then call your victim…er…recipient. Tell them Loretta is calling to ask them when they are coming over to wash your car. Threaten them with a breach of contract law suit if they don’t show up by 5PM, Greenwich Mean Time.
One word of caution: if you follow through with these ideas, keep your resume up to date. I can’t be held accountable for your insanity. We all have to find our own, personal madness and make it work harder not smarter.