Flashback Friday: Hero for a day

The name’s familiar but I can’t place anything else.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

This net admin pilot fish has the same last name as an engineer at his company. And because fish’s first name is alphabetically before the other employee’s name, fish often receives email meant for the other guy when people type the last name in the TO field and then simply hit Enter when a name comes up.

Just such a misdirected email arrives from a high-ranking manager, with cc’s to a group of engineers, thanking them for their hard work in coming up with a streamlined way of making a major product.

But fish knows many of the engineers on the thread, 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,” says fish, “a few people — including some I did not know — replied, ‘thanking’ me for my Herculean efforts in making the project work. 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 email 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 emails and took them to a managers’ lunch that included the author of the original email. 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 emails without a single comment.”

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