Throwback Thursday: I’ll show you rude

It’s a chain reaction.

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Computerworld / IDG

This company has a strict rule that forwarding a chain email could get you written up or even fired, depending on its content, says a pilot fish working there.

When one user decides to forward a message she thinks is cute to every email account in the company, fish gets the task of calling to remind her of the policy.

It doesn’t go well. As soon as user answers her phone, she snaps “What?” Fish patiently explains why he’s calling, refers her to the employee handbook section on proper email use and — quoting from the handbook — tells her that future violations could result in her email privileges being revoked, or even her termination.

User says she’s sorry and it won’t happen again, and hangs up.

A few days later, fish is called on the carpet by his boss, who says the user complained that fish was excessively rude. He strongly suggests that fish call the user and apologize. Fish doesn't much like it, but he does — and the call is noted in fish’s HR file.

Two months go by, but one Monday morning he spots another email addressed to every account in the company, sent just after lunch on Friday by that same user.

“Remembering the trouble I got into before, I decided to ignore the message unless someone complained,” fish says.

But ignoring it isn’t going to work. “Come about 4 p.m., I get a visit from the HR director, who calls in my manager and informs him that I’m getting written up for being rude to the same user again on Friday. The HR director even has a mandate that I take a series of anger-management classes or I will have to be terminated.”

Fish points out that he’s been out of town on vacation since Wednesday night and didn’t see the email until this morning. He simply couldn’t have made that phone call on Friday.

HR director says the call log shows otherwise: The call came from fish’s phone on Friday. Things are looking grim for fish, who’s just been called a liar by the HR director. Then the HR director turns to fish’s boss and asks if fish was at work on Friday.

That’s when fish’s boss sets the record straight. Fish was on vacation just as he claims, boss says.

The fact is, he continues, the air conditioning in the boss’s office was being repaired that day, so he was working at fish’s desk when the user’s email arrived. He was the one who called the user from fish’s phone, quoted that handbook policy to the user again and told her this was her second offense and he would be requesting that she be written up.

“He said the user replied, ‘I’ll be damned!’ and hung up,” says fish.

“The HR director then looked at me and apologized, removed both incidents from my HR file and initiated termination procedures for the employee.”

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