When The Out-Of-Office Message Is…Grovely

This is not a rehash of last week’s post about out-of-office messages, we swear. No, there’s yet another faux pas you can commit with that simple e-mail, and it’s being way too apologetic.

Freelance writer David Murray got this “interesting” e-mail:


Taking some time off, the week before the week before our [Big Corporate Event] — sticking around town, doing some odds and ends that need taking care of, (also my dad has another chemo treatment this week and a few follow appts) — but I also hopefully be catching up on some books and movies I have piling up. 

My plan is to be check in first thing in the morning and then again at the end of the day for e-mails, but I will have my cell with me most of the time should anything come up — 555-555-5555. Nancy has been gracious enough to cover and answer anything urgent etc., that comes up in regards to [Project A] or [Project B], [Project C] etc., and those and any other questions or decisions needing immediate action should go Nancy’s way, (but please cc me too if you would).

You’ll likely be hearing from me at some point, and again, if there is anything that you need me for, please let me know. 

Many thanks,

Murray’s response is essentially: “Oh for the love of Pete!”

“Spare us the prose pie chart on percentages of time you’ll be engaging in morally heroic activities vs. honorable practical pursuits vs. sensibly restful exercises in self-improvement.”

Plus, too much detail, too much apology, and just too many words. What’s wrong with “I am out of the office this week. I’ll be checking e-mail daily, but if it’s an emergency, please call my cell or contact Nancy.”

There. We did you a favor, anonymous vacationer.

A commenter points out that this behavior is typical of people who think they’re so important that all work at their company will stop in their absence. Maybe that’s true of this guy, but we doubt it.