The Titanic E-mail

wild wild world of wealth worst case wednesday

I’m crushed with work, crazy busy.

Let’s see: Morning presentation to huge new prospects. More meetings this afternoon. Hope I can sneak off to the gym. Dinner with clients tonight. Back-to-back meetings all day tomorrow. In my book—Friday can’t come soon enough.

Five hundred e-mails arrived since 7:59 p.m. last night. What do these people want? Doesn’t anyone pick up the phone anymore? Let’s see how many replies I can bang out before my guests arrive.

Delete. Delete. Delete.

Here’s what Sarah says: “What do you think about our new boss?”

My reply: “He’s got the IQ of a cantaloupe. That’s on a good day.” Maybe I should cc Tom to get his opinion. Okay, there we go. Send.

Delete. Delete. Delete.

Hey, wait a minute. Did I copy Tom? I need to check my sent file. OMG. It’s Worst Case Wednesday. And my entire division—617 people—just received that e-mail about cantaloupe brain. What should I do?

Call IT? No way. Too many people read the e-mail already. This is a disaster. What to do. What to do. Wait, I know. Take a page from Toyota’s playbook. They can handle epic disasters. Here goes:

  1. Apologize in an e-mail to all 617 people in my division.
  2. Explain steps I am taking to avoid future mistakes. Take full responsibility, no mealy-mouthed language. Fall on sword. Reaffirm commitment to the firm and its people. Emphasize change in my behavior.
  3. Apologize again.
  4. Apologize to the boss in person.
  5. Apologize to Cantaloupe Growers of America.


Okay, finished with the penitent email. If this doesn’t buy absolution, nothing will. Send. There it goes. Time to go face the boss. I’ve got 15 minutes before my prospects arrive. May need to apologize for making them wait.

Ping. Ping. Ping.

What’s happening? Why all those pings? My e-mail inbox sounds like a clip from that submarine movie, Run Silent, Run Deep. Oh no. Everybody’s already replying to my apology. What are they saying?

John: “Dude, the guy’s a bonehead.”

Cindy: “Don’t apologize. Our boss reminds me of catfish. All mouth and no brains.”

Sam: “He’s off the mental reservation.”

Ping. Ping. Ping.

Uh-oh. I just received forty-seven e-mails from people who think our boss is a chowderhead. It’s mutiny, and I’m Fletcher Christian. Now what should I do?

Norb Vonnegut


  • Erin Maulden says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    • Come on, Erin. What happens next?

      • Erin Maulden says:

        I would need one crucial piece of information before I decided what to do next. Was Mr. Cantaloupe Brain on that listserve? If it turns out that he was, well, that’s going effect your options in a very major way, my friend.

        • He’s absolutely on the list. Think Frank, the monthly nut, from Top Producer.

          • Erin Maulden says:

            Gotcha. Okay, I think from this point you have two options. It’s too bad you had already sent those apologies; there goes your only hope of playing this off as a joke. (That’s okay, probably wouldn’t have gone over very well anyway). Now you have to decide whether you should run strait to the Monthly Nut, spill your guts and beg for forgiveness. You’re second option (the one that I would probably go for) is to simply wait it out. Hang on to all of those incriminating emails, go about your business as usual, and see what happens next…

  • Erin Maulden says:

    Unless of course you had your heart set on a knock-down, drag-out bloody revolution…in which case I go for it. Viva la Revolucion! (just keep in mind that mutinies don’t always end well…

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