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Last Words 


The damage-control email

By: Daniel Asa Rose


“The email era has made necessary a special type of apology: the kind you have to make when you are the bonehead who fired off a ridiculously intemperate email or who accidentally sent an email to the person you were covertly trashing. In situations like these, our first inclination is to apologize via the medium that got us into so much trouble in the first place. Resist this inclination.” — David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, p. 172, Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home

The Offending Email

hey hon –

that bald bastard ripley just edited the crap out of my latest article. what a hatchet job. he better pray I never catch his bony ass in a dark alley. more under the covers tonight — k

Ten Sample Damage-Control Emails

1. dear mr. ripley, mortification and bottomless shame are only two of the emotions that flood my core as I kneel here, beseeching forgiveness for inadvertently sending you an email intended for my girlfriend. I hastily hit the wrong key but let me assure you that I myself am losing my hair and would never ... 

2. dear robert ripley, just a note to let you know I left my laptop on an airplane last weekend and have no idea into whose hands it may have fallen. please don’t bother opening any strange ...

3. yo bobby! LOL! you’ve probably surmised by now that the email I sent you (pretending to mistakenly send it to someone named, classically, “hon”) was an example of my “goofy” side. so let’s talk turkey. I believe your august academic bimonthly, Albino Crit, could lighten up by having a “goofy” freelancer like me on staff with full ...

4. dear comrade — though you and I have never met, much less discussed our personal lives, I am entrusting you with a private matter of utmost seriousness. For two months I have been attempting to extricate myself from a pathological relationship with a borderline personality. I’ll spare you the painful details except to say that her therapist has conscripted me to help shock her out of her depression by sending her an email that is diametrically opposed to the beliefs I hold dear. you’ve been cced because dr. freudlink wanted to include you in the loop, but it is imperative you keep this sensitive approach confidential and refrain from reacting in any ...

5. fellow sinner: may I level with you, one flawed human being to another? I am someone with a lifelong self-destructive streak, acquired during a severe childhood trauma, and I believe my recent email “slip” to you was a desperate cry for help. the question now is: will my cri de coeur fall on deaf ears or might you offer me the sort of compassion I’ve been craving since I was six and my mother ...

6. hey hon — for years I’ve tried to honor your family’s tradition of playing Email Opposite Day, but I wonder if it’s time we stopped that silly game. yes, it’s true that most of our professional colleagues are such good sports they usually love getting Opposited, yet I can’t help worrying that some trusting souls might imagine we actually meant ...

7. hey hon — I’ve been thinking. that “bald bastard” (to use your fond nickname, ’cause of what a thing you have for silken pates) is really one heck of a subtle editor. I don’t always grasp his cuts at first, but inevitably I’m so stunned by their elegance that I’ve decided to write his publisher (long hand! I don’t trust these durn emails!) recommending he get a fat raise. anyway, hon, hope you’re having an OK day at the plant, and I look forward to reading more of mr. r’s brilliantly self-published “Insomniac’s Haiku” later tonight with you “under the covers” ...

8. Hallo? ? I doing this right? Anyone heering me? I from Fiji Island trying clean airp`ort and find laptop . fun to send emails I make up. what ryme with bastard? anyhoo now I pres SEND ...

9. Sir: Permit me to introduce myself. I am Dr. Freudlink, therapist of the incredibly attractive yet troubled girlfriend of your devoted freelancer K. Briefly put, I would like to enlist your cooperation in a bold series of steps to snap my patient out of her latest nymphomaniacal episode. Perhaps something as counter-intuitive as going on a “date” with this fetching vulnerable female in a discreet out-of-town tavern of your choosing would do the trick. We would pick up all expenses, it goes without ...

10. You are getting sleepy. Your eyelids are growing heavy. You are deleting your inbox ... 

Daniel Asa Rose is the author most recently of Hiding Places: A Father and His Sons Retrace Their Family’s Escape from the Holocaust (Simon and Schuster).


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