Funny Out-of-Office E-mail Messages

Sometimes you just can't resist temptation -- the temptation to leave a funny out-of-office e-mail message on your company account, that is. We suggest that you be a bit careful about just what message you send to the world, since these things sometimes have a way of turning around and biting the hand that typed them.

Watch what you write

Working as an account executive in telecommunications for six years, I have on more than one occasion used my sense of humor to get through a difficult situation. Although I have never vented my frustration via an e-mail message, some of my co-workers have by writing witty remarks.

Two out-of-office e-mail replies that stick out in my mind both had the same end result: termination of employment

The first was about two years ago, from an employee who had already given his notice. It simply stated "Mentally out of the office... 12 days and counting!" I assume he planned to update the number on a daily basis. He was asked not to stay for his last two weeks.

The second happened about two months ago, when a female retail representative who was on vacation stated, "I am currently on vacation. If you are e-mailing me because my boss is taking forever to respond to you, please call her directly. Thank you."

She never returned from vacation.

-- Megan Worrall

Know your readers

I was working as a hotel manager at an out-of-the-way resort where we used e-mail as our primary means of marketing. We asked guests to give us their e-mail addresses when they visited and then added them to our e-mail promotions, which really were an endless stream. Each week we sent out at least three of these e-mail promotions using a Web-based program called Constant Contact.

Of course, out of the thousands of e-mails that we would send out, I'd get at least a few hundred out-of-office notifications in reply. One such reply, apparently coming from a disgruntled employee who had given us his work e-mail, simply stated, "Out-of-office NEVER COMING BACK." Guess we should take that one off the list!

Another reply had me and my co-workers dreaming of beaches and sunsets. It stated: "Out-of-office sipping margaritas on the beach, ha ha!" That one became the office tag line for a while.

Yet another had us scratching our collective heads after reading: "Out-of-office going to the bathroom." We could only assume that person had mixed up their e-mail account with their instant messenger!

Should people be more aware of who might be reading their out-of-office messages? Maybe, but then what would people like me have to lighten our days while we're actually in the office?

-- Tonya Roush

The e-mail laureate

During my first three weeks on my new job, I learned some things about the office. It had all the latest technology available to it, and yet implemented the most draconian procedures to do the simplest tasks. I was asked to place an out-of-office e-mail in the group e-mail for my boss. I was not to disclose where he was, nor was I to say when he would return. The e-mail was on an ancient system, and of course, I had no idea as to how to use it. But, well, I tried.

The message said it all:

"Your fearless leader is out of the office today, but has left his trusted henchmen to watch you carefully. They are instructed to respond to any questions in the usual slow, evasive and ineffectual manner. And for those who do not trust the answers, watch for them on 'Jeopardy' this evening."

Needless to say, the department was in an uproar. And I ate my lunch in my car to avoid the paparazzi. The eight hours ran longer than usual. I drove out of the parking lot on two wheels at 5:06PM.

Upon my boss's return, I was told via an e-mail from him that I was to do any and all out-of-office e-mails from now on. He quipped, "Your style and delivery are good for company morale."

Hence my special job as the office "e-mail laureate."

-- Saroya M. King

Creativity expected

My name is Rafe, and I am a "Help Desk God" at a very nice credit union. I've been doing this sort of thing for nearly 15 years. Although I'm obviously some kind of masochist, it does mean that I've earned some professional leeway in what I can get away with, and the users I support have come to expect a certain, shall we say, amount of flair in my company-wide communiques. If there isn't something weird in them, or at least a funny P.S., people write back to ask if I'm feeling all right.

For my most recent vacation, I wrote this out-of-office reply:

"If you need immediate technical assistance, please call or e-mail [my department] after the beep.


I will be on vacation from Wednesday through Wednesday (inclusive), and will not be checking my e-mail. Seriously. I don't even have a cell phone with e-mail capabilities. Please do not panic, stampede or otherwise become fretful. There are other [department] minions available to do your nefarious bidding; make them work while I'm out of town goofing off. If you would prefer to receive extremely belated technical assistance, I will be back next Thursday. Please Note: Larger denomination bribes and/or larger quantities of canned goods or other non-perishable (but tasty) food items will receive priority treatment."

Nobody left cash or canned goods, incidentally. Maybe I should include a PayPal donation button next time?

-- Rafe Brox

Your Turn: Have you written or read a funny out-of-office e-mail recently? If so, please share in the comments below.

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