Monday, November 10, 2008

Fun with the public school system: Reply All is not a suggestion.

Today, something beautiful happened. 

It began as a simple email from an employee that I do not know in the Charleston County School system. It asked if it were possible to leave work early if you come in early.

I'm guessing it wasn't a teacher unless things have really gotten out of hand.

The two things that make this email so magical are:

1. The entire email was written in the subject line, making it half the size of your inbox.
2. It was accidentally sent to the entire school district.

When this happens, a predictable and gloriously funny behavior pattern emerges.

The first step is confusion. May people respond to the rest of the school district asking "Why is this email being sent to me?" Others chime in with "me too" and "who is this?"

The next step is my favorite: anger.

I first went to see a live reaction by going to visit my friend and Laing chorus teacher, Andrea. Andrea is a very pleasant person and extremely intelligent, despite being from Ohio. When I walked into the chorus room and mention the gigantic, inadvertent chain email going around the school district, this was not the demeanor I was met with.

"AARRGGH!!! This is so stupid," she screamed. "IT MAKES ME WANT TO KILL BABIES!"

Well, she didn't say that. But it was the anger level she was giving off about the whole thing.

When I went back to my email, the anger from everyone in the district had begun to spill out into my inbox.

"Please stop sending reply to all!" authors pleaded as they hit reply all on their emails. The snowball effect was amazing.

Afterwards comes the pleas for sanity from district officials. What makes this step even more interesting is due to the original author typing the entire email in the subject line, inboxes are completely jammed with responses to the point that original emails with original titles can't get through.

"Subject: Cure for cancer found" could very easily go unnoticed. The district technology folks asked us to please not hit reply all to anymore emails. A very reasonable request...until people checking their email after lunch begin responding to their overflowing inboxes.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are molding the minds of America's youth...send.