Dear Secretary Who Doesn't Know What a Mail Delivery Failure Is

It actually is different from an out of office message, believe it or not.

Dear Secretary Who Doesn't Know What a Mail Delivery Failure Is

Dear secretary who doesn't know what a mail delivery failure notification is,

First of all, thank you for manning this desk and accepting packages for people because the mail men aren't smart enough to find office numbers. I know that it isn't a fun job. I've done similar jobs in the past. I've done a lot of paper-pushing and my fair share of mail processing in past jobs.

However. As un-fun as the job is, there are a few ABCs of the job that we all need to learn to recite.

I didn't have a tracking number on my package, so when it didn't turn up for three weeks, I reached out to the printer. He promptly responded stating that the materials were finished, sent, and signed for well over a week ago.

Well, alright. I've clearly made a fool of myself. Time to sniff out the issue—which led me to your desk, dear building secretary. Your name and signature was on the FedEx slip the printer provided, clear as day, clear as a signature on the constitution.

First of all, when you send an email on October 11th and got an immediate bounce back, what did you think to yourself? Did those strange characters, error codes, and the very clear subject title about delivery failure not make sense?

I suppose they didn't, because you proceeded to send two more messages

Then, of course, you proudly showed me your sent mail folders. "I emailed you three times!"

I appreciate your persistence, I do. However...

What about the second time when you instantly got another mail delivery failure? Did it perhaps not seem strange at that point?

Then, of course, as it had been over a business week, you dutifully sent a third message. And for the third time, because this process is oh so complicated, you got another mail delivery failure and made no attempt to search for me in the directory, try a different email address, or perhaps double check to see if you'd made a typo.

We all make typos. It's an honest mistake—presuming you don't do it three times in a row and completely delay someone's project.

"Maybe you had the wrong email address," I say politely.

I already see that you made a mistake in spelling my name in the email, but I do try to be diplomatic about these things. I strive to not shoot anyone down with harsh comments about how they're wrong.

I gave you a great escape door to jump through. Instead, you jumped off the cliff of my respect instead.

"I figured you were on vacation," you said casually, "and that you'd come pick it up eventually."

In the moment, on that glorious October 22nd, I pinched a smile and politely said that I was not.

Thank you, dear secretary, for giving every secretary who has ever lived—myself included as a secretarial survivor—a bad name. Thank you for proving every cliche correct about secretaries not being very bright. I know we don't learn problem-solving skills overnight, but I think it might be time for you to reevaluate your excuse-making metrics if you

Alternatively—if you truly did believe that the three mail delivery failure notifications that you got were truly out of office messages—then please follow your dreams, whatever they are, and stop being a secretary.

This goes beyond technical common sense—reading email is part of the job, unfortunately. Mail delivery notifications can be confusing at first glance, but much like a fortune cookie, if you crack into them and read all the way, they unveil their torrid secrets.

fact or fiction
Cali Hollyhill
Cali Hollyhill
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