Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let this be a lesson for you

I'm going to be very, very oblique on the details of this incident, for obvious reasons. You see, I recently sent an email to the wrong person, causing me a lot of embarrassment, anguish, and and a constant refrain of "I am so STUPID!!!!" to echo through my head for the better part of a day. Those feelings (and even the refrain) have since subsided, but all I have to do is open up my inbox to feel the shame and humiliation come rushing back.

Basically, I needed to send an email to a group of people. I found a previous email exchange among that group of people and clicked on Reply All and then smugly and smartly edited the Subject line to what the new email was about. "How smart I am to change the Subject line," I thought, "I just hate it when people Reply All to old emails but leave the same old irrelevant subject."

Since I was so busy being smart with the subject, and also since (in my defense) the particular email window I had up was quite small, I didn't notice that the entire substance of the group email exchange remained at the bottom of this new email I was writing. And really, this wouldn't have been a problem since I was writing to the same group of people, who all had access to that original exchange anyway. Except. Oh, EXCEPT. At the last moment before sending, I thought of one more person who might benefit from this new information I was sending and I added that individual to the list of recipients. And then I sent the email.

A few minutes later, I opened up the message as it entered my Inbox, this time in a larger window. There in front of me I saw the old email conversation laid out in all its glory, now forwarded on to someone who was never supposed to be included in that discussion. All at once, I felt sick, humiliated, and STUPID. It was such a dumb mistake.

The worst part about it all was that I was so powerless. I immediately wrote an email to the people whose words I had inadvertently forwarded on to an unintended recipient and apologized, which of course was basically a worthless gesture, if the best I could do. But there was no way I was going to call or write that unintended recipient, though I considered it briefly. Anything I said to that person would just call attention to my mistake, a mistake that there was a chance they hadn't noticed at all. I just hoped and prayed that their email window was as small as mine, or that they didn't have the time to scroll down after the "Best regards, Bridget" line.

And I'll never know of course. Maybe that person saw it. Maybe they didn't. But I can never ask about it. I only know that I had to face this group of people not too long after I sent the email, and most of them knew what I had done. The moment that I walked in to see them reminded me of that part in Gone With the Wind where there's been a huge misunderstanding and everyone hates Scarlett:

Oh well. I know this kind of thing happens all the time and I'm just glad it wasn't worse. I asked for sympathy on Facebook and heard a few stories of truly terrible email overshares. At least I'm not alone in my ignominy.


Alli E. said...

I accidentally sent a bunch of head shot photos of 16 and 17 year old girls I had taken for a Junior Miss Scholarship Pageant to my husband's recently divorced 30 something year old friend instead of the committee chairperson. I was so embarrassed and quickly sent a reply that I wasn't trying to set him up with any of them!!

Lilianne said...

I think on Outlook you can recall messages and if they haven't been opened, it will bring the message back. This happened a few times when I was working in Washington, DC. The worst is when it happened to people who were sending things to congressmen/women, governors, etc!

Bridget said...

Alli, that's hilarious...and embarrassing.

Lili, I've heard that before but when I've been the receiver of a recalled message, it seems like I've still been able to read it, it just comes with a note that it's been recalled. :(

Jill said...

I've done some horrible things on text. Like sending "Carrie is annoying me so much" to Carrie.

Jill said...

I pulled the battery out of my phone to try to stop it once


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