Yesterday was a lost cause as I had some nagging internet issues that needed to be addressed. Here is a direct quote from an email I sent that I immediately regretted “I need to call you from my cell phone because there is a guy up on my pole.” Luckily the person I needed to speak with knows me extremely well and loved the chance to deliver a couple of clean shots. My head was not in the game.

It was like I had a three hour business rain delay. I was sitting in my office at 8:15pm finishing up and mentally beat. Some of you might be thinking Hey Stupid, you could have just recalled the email… Oh no. If I had any shot at all of having those words ignored that little recall notice would have wiped it away.

I once worked for a pretty big corporation that tried to choke me out daily with nonsense email communication. Most of it went into a corporate file to find later if I missed something or right into the electronic trash. That was until one day when I got another message “The sender would like to recall this message clicking YES will remove it from your inbox.” Hold on, that one has an attachment, I’d better download it to my computer before allowing it to be reclaimed just in case.

I looked through yet another too big too boring budgeting spreadsheet. The thing had so many tabs across the bottom that the labels were just a letter or two. (I just made the one Excel geek who reads this nod in understanding. And for the record, gigantic forecasting spreadsheets are my waterboarding. This is not to make light of actual waterboarding and if you endured that particular slice of human experience good for you making it to the other side only to read this crap.) Anyway, there had to be a reason this was recalled so I decided to check every tab.

About halfway through I worried that there was some data or formula error that they wanted to correct but then I reminded myself that we got updated versions of spreadsheets multiple times per day and they would have just sent out a new version for me to ignore. The last tab was the prize and after that exercise I completely understand how it was missed.

Listed before me were the complete salary and benefit packages for me and all my peers across the country. I printed it in case the IT people somehow figured out how to remotely make it go away. Two minutes later my phone rang and my boss was calling from headquarters. Delete the email was all he said in the way of greeting. “I don’t know what you’re talking about” I lied and so began a dance that lasted a full five minutes before I broke and said “Look, I’m not admitting I saw anything but [name redacted] is severely underpaid.”

The poor assistant that failed to delete that tab before sending it to the field management team lost her job two short days after the incident and since then I vowed to never recall a message. I have since argued that if she would have just deleted it and sent out another update no one would have found it. By the way that boss and I are still friends to this day in spite of my refusing to use the names of my peers when he and I were talking. It was so much more fun to call them by their salary or vacation days. “I don’t feel that $88,000 a year is making the right decisions here.” or “Mr. two months vacation should pay more attention next time.”

Not sure I’d want to be the boss of me.

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