Ever wondered what kind of dimwits at work mistakenly sends out mass emails to the whole company? There is at least one of those every 2 years in our 40,000 global organisation. Who does things like that anyway? How can anyone be that stupid??
Now I know. Anyone in today's work environment deals with IT support for every annoying malfunctioning digital detail. My malfunctioning digital detail was my BlackBerry - for a whole week!! Rather than see it as liberation from corporate slavery, I pined like a dog for my master. When should I heel? When must I jump? My master control panel was rendered defect. Me and my notions of self importance were frantic about getting my life gadget to work again. At this point, I had gone through several calls with the technical support. With each trial and failed solution I was getting more frantic. Finally after running through the last proposed procedure unsuccessfully, I was peeved! Am I expected to bear through yet another call of which the first 5 mins are annoyingly dramatic music followed by 'Your call is on hold. Hold the line please. Your call is on hold. Hold the line please...'? Pressed for time with meetings back to back and with the urgency of an upcoming business trip, I just had to sort this out in the few minutes I had to spare. So I hurriedly, sent out an email from my desk to the techies that my problem still persists and I FRIGGIN needed a solution soon, so they had better get their asses moving!! It came out much nicer than that, more polite than I intended to be. Because I was so hard pressed for time I guess. That's interesting - that being a bitch may actually take more effort than being nice. Send! Right about the time I hit 'Send' is when I realised I chose the wrong distributor list. AAAAAARGH!!!! Rather than mail the BlackBerry services I had sent it out to BlackBerry Users, which is basically everyone in the company that owns one of these 'Employee-on-a-leash' gadgets. A clean 80%-85%. Brilliant me!
Where I work, we insure and reinsure all kinds of stuff, all over the world. We are about the biggest in the business and are hence able to attract a wealth of talent. Some of the brains around are Aeronautical engineers, pilots, doctors, physicists, chemists, statisticians, mathematicians, climate researchers, geologists. We virtually have specialists for every faculty of every industry to work out complex risk solutions for casualty, property, marine and aviation, financial risks, etc etc etc. Right. And they just, all of them that is, received my mail requesting help for my persisting Blackberry problem. The earth didn't split open and swallow me. I did wait in the hope that it would.
Just about the exact moment I hit the 'Send' button I got that unpleasantly sinking feeling embarrassing blunders can cause. As most of you are aware, one can revoke, or attempt to revoke a sent mail. As most of you might also be aware, this handy feature is no use for the thousands of very engaged, busy professionals who open new mails almost immediately on receipt. So most of the damage was irrevocable. And then the most interesting part of this experience started to unfold. My inbox started filling up with responses, which were one of two kinds - (A.) cheerful or (B.) sour. Type A, were compelled to react out of a sense of duty/protocol or just mere pleasantries. One response, a pilot from Type A, explained politely he wasn't in charge of the BlackBerry services and therefore, very apologetically explained, couldn't help me. Another Lawyer offered, in addition to a hesitant apology, that he forward my request to the appropriate service since he unfortunately wouldn't be able to solve the problem for me. There was also the jovial congratulatory remark about my 'moment of fame' which even my slinking around at work couldn't avoid. There were those among Type A too that were old colleagues I had worked with at some point of my career, who had moved to other countries or departments. They were pouring in with "Hello's" and "How are you's" and "Good to hear from you's"....ahem. My mistaken email also became a social medium of connections and re-connection of sorts. Almost emotional and nostalgic sometimes. Especially in the case of a particular colleague who wrote back from our South African office with words of warmth and greetings. I probably won't ever see her again - incidentally that was her last week with the company. If not for my mail, I couldn't have said goodbye. Type B were the usual sour frowners, complaining about the inconvenience. The ones that took the time and effort to make their displeasure known. These are the ones that I was dreading in the first place, the reason why my mistake could have been so potentially disastrous. It turned out, Type A vastly outnumbered Type B. In all, I received a little over 50 responses. The rest thankfully just ignored my mail, recognising it to be the mistake it was. The whole goof-up turned out to be an experiment in Human psychologies - and a very reassuring one at that!
Should this experiment ever be repeated, I hope to be a Type A. Unfortunately I don't know that for fact. What type would you be?