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when an e-mail isn’t enough December 2, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Observations.

You’ve been there. I know you’ve been there.

Picture it: your office. 8:35. You’ve just finished booting up, you have your first cup of coffee, and you’re just getting ready to waste ten minutes playing with Facebook when it happens. The little window at the bottom-right of your screen pops up, and it looks a little something like this:

Smith, Jeff
Request for Proposal
Hey, Bill, take a look at this RFP and
tell me if there’s anything I should…

You process this as you start perusing pictures, and you make a mental note — or you even write it down so you don’t forget — that Jeff needs you to look over his RFP.

Then you hear someone from two cubicles over answer the phone.

“CorporateSpeak Headquarters, this is Marian.”

Silence for a moment.

“All right, Jeff, no problem, I’ll–”

More silence. For a very long time.

“Okay, Jeff, I got it.”

Shorter silence.

“Sure, just a sec.”

A lump forms in your throat. Your stomach quivers. Suddenly you wish you hadn’t eaten that bran muffin for breakfast. But it’s too late now; Jeff is in the phone system, and you just know he’s coming for you.

Another phone rings. It’s not yours. You breathe a sigh of relief as you listen to the exasperated voice of Terry the IT guy, who’s just trying to fix someone’s computer but has been sucked into the Jeff Zone. See, you heard toward the end of the day yesterday that Jeff was getting a new phone, and he’s going to need it set up. Jeff mentioned it loudly to Juliet, who sits in the cubicle next to you. Everyone on the floor knows.

The longer Jeff talks to Terry, the sooner you realize that you’re going to be next. So you abandon Facebook and everything else you might have to do that’s more important than Jeff’s RFP to look over Jeff’s RFP. You do this with a great sigh of resignation; Jeff never fills out his RFPs correctly, and honestly, it would be easier and faster for him just to let you do it, even though it’s not your job. Not that Jeff cares. Not that Jeff will ever care.

You finish fixing up the RFP just as your phone rings.

“This is Bill.”

“Bill, good morning, it’s Jeff!” You knew that from your caller ID. And you’re pissed. He e-mailed you. Wasn’t that enough?

Apparently not.

“The RFP is done. I’m sending it to you now.”

“Okay, thanks!” Then, to your horror, Jeff launches into an explanation about why he needed to call you after he already sent an e-mail. You can’t cut him off. You can’t make him speed up. All you can do is hold on for the ride and hope it doesn’t last too long.

And what’s worse?

An e-mail isn’t enough. A phone call isn’t enough. No, the moment Jeff breezes in, you’ll be treated to everything he just told you, as well as overly effusive thanks that you neither need nor want.

Because an e-mail is never enough.



1. “that’s not the way we do things around here” « corporatespeak - April 3, 2009

[…] guys like Jay before — he’s a combination of the over-the-shoulder guy and one of those when an e-mail isn’t enough people. Jay does fairly good work, but he’d do even better work if he stopped worrying about […]

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