There are few things that can liven up an otherwise-dull office quite like a holiday party scandal, whether it's catching two co-workers playing Naked King Wenceslas in the server room or your boss cancelling everyone's bonuses, only to immediately start bragging about going all in on a cryptocurrency invented for birds. All of these scenarios pale, however, in comparison to the madness and damage that a misjudged reply-all email can cause. And if you don't believe us, just ask the Utah state government.
In anticipation of the holidays, some government employees decided to arrange a potluck dinner and a $5 gift exchange, and sent out an email asking who wanted in. So far, so good. But then the replies started pouring in. It turned out that in their excitement at the prospect of eating lukewarm pasta salad, they'd accidentally CC'd their invite to over 25,000 state employees. Worse yet, those 25,000 were all the kind of super smart people who know that the only way to neutralize an out-of-control reply-all email is to reply to it with the exact same message.
(Tag yourself, we're the contractor vying for an invite to what is clearly destined to simultaneously be the worst gift exchange in history and the greatest potluck in history.)
It took several hours to calm the mob, but the deluge of people sending all-caps emails begging for peace eventually subsided. The name of the person responsible for sending the first email was never publicly released, but it's hard to judge them too harshly. After all, what is Christmas if not a time for togetherness and solidarity and receiving store-brand bath sets from total strangers?
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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