Credit where it's ... don't

This net admin pilot fish shares his last name with an engineer at his company. "Unfortunately, my first name is alphabetically before the other employee's name," says fish.

"As a result, I wind up with his e-mail sometimes, because people will began typing the last name in the TO field and will simply hit Enter when a name comes up without checking to see if it is correct."

So it's no surprise when fish receives an e-mail message from a high-ranking manager addressed to a group of engineers, thanking them for their hard work in coming up with a streamlined way of making a major product. It's obviously intended for fish's namesake.

But fish knows many of the engineers who got the e-mail, so he figures he'll have a little fun.

He replies to everyone except the manager, thanking them for their support as he worked late nights contributing to the project in ways that could not be measured.

"Within a few minutes, a few people -- including some I did not know -- replied, 'thanking' me for my Herculean efforts in making the project work," fish says. "Obviously they were tongue-in-cheek."

But after a few increasingly effusive messages, someone adds the original manager to the list of recipients. He replies to the group that he had no idea how hard fish has worked, and is putting fish in for a company bonus.

Fish's first reaction is laughter. His second reaction is panic when he realizes the high-powered manager is serious.

He quickly prints out the e-mail chain and goes red-faced to his boss to explain the situation.

"Within a few minutes he was roaring with laughter and said he would handle it," says fish.

"I later found out that he photocopied the e-mails and took them to a managers' lunch that included the author of the original e-mail. After some explanations they all had a good laugh, and my boss said it was the best luncheon ever.

"I now take great care to forward all misaddressed e-mails without a single comment."

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