Adventures With Outlook

I am not fond of Outlook as an email program. You could say that I heartily dislike it, which is about the strongest level of antipathy I can summon against an inanimate object. Despite its limitations and constant annoyances, most businesses rely on it exclusively for email. The last place I worked at least acknowledged Outlook’s suckitude by permitting us access to Gmail so that larger files could be sent — this happened so frequently that eventually They listened to me and got an FTP Server (I did something useful!)… Not that anyone there besides me would ever learn how to use said FTP Server, despite my repeated emailed instructions and job aids (with pictures and everything), so guess what became part of my job? But I digress.

At a very large workplace that uses Outlook — say, a thousand or so people — it can become quite the source of amusement. At one such company that I deigned to brighten with my cheery disposition for a few years, the servers would become overloaded on occasion and email would go down. The IT guys would very quickly be doing nothing but answering the phone and telling people that they knew the email was down and were working on it except they couldn’t work on it because they were too busy telling people they were working on it to actually do so and the longer email was down, the more people thought that IT must need to be told about it… “We are experiencing Technical Death Spiral. Please shut up and let us do our jobs.” They never said that, but I always hoped for it. Although one time, they did tell someone who called, “Hi. Yes, we know email and internet are down. We just sent out an email telling everyone we’re working on it.” Really? And you guys get paid more than me? Excuse me, I have some college degrees to go burn now…

Another time, someone in a different office decided to cc the entire company with a “You suck, I can’t work with you, so I quit” email to their manager. Almost instantly, 400 people replied all with “I think I have been copied on this email by mistake.” Email — and then internet and all systems — slowed to a crawl as thousands of people waited to receive and delete these emails that were mobbing the servers like so many Trekkies boldly going to a Sci-Fi Convention. THEN, about 200 people replied all with the message, “Stop hitting reply all. You are crashing the servers.” More downtime as these emails filtered slowly through the interwebs to be deleted from thousands of inboxes across the country. I guess that’s one way to get some revenge on a company you hate. Yes, everyone’s productivity slowed or stopped, making more work for the rest of the week, but one of my Favorite Things is laughing at stupidity — especially other people’s, but often my own as well — so it was pretty much one of The Best Days Ever.

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