Laurie Taylor column

September 2, 2005
Out-of-office reply.
Dr Piercemuller is away from his desk on annual research leave and will respond to your communication on his return.
Dr Piercemuller, I know you're there. Just give me a teeny sign.
Sorry. The e-mail account does not exist at this address. Check the address or contact the recipient directly to find out the correct address.  
Now you're being silly. Come on out. Just for a little moment. I won't bite.
Undeliverable message. Please re-send. If delivery still fails, contact your system administrator.
There you are. I can see you now. Peek-a-boo!
Really, Maureen. This is intolerable. And very childish. You should be ashamed of yourself. What is the point of having these out-of-office messages if they are treated with such disdain? What do you want?
I wanted to let you know that I've put you down for some teaching on Friday next term. I know it's your research day. But it was impossible to avoid. Just the five hours. You'll be free by 6.30pm.
Maureen. Now listen to me carefully. This is utterly and completely intolerable. How on earth can I be expected to contribute to the department's RAE submission when I'm required to spend five hours teaching on my only research day? Quite honestly, I regard this as a matter of academic principle and I have to tell you that until I receive a satisfactory answer to that question I refuse to agree to your proposal. Absolutely refuse. Please let me have your comments immediately. Immediately. Do you hear?
Out-of-office reply.
Your message reached the recipient's e-mail system but delivery was refused. I mean, what else did you expect? Byeee.

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