Now THAT'S a Monday

This company has strict rules about what workplace e-mails are acceptable. "In particular, forwarding a chain e-mail could get you written up or fired depending on its content," says a pilot fish working there.

So when one user decides to forward a message she thinks is cute to every e-mail account in the company, fish gets the task of calling to remind her of the policy.

It doesn't go well. As soon as user answers her phone, she snaps "What?" Fish patiently explains why he's calling, refers her to the employee handbook's section on proper e-mail use and -- quoting from the handbook -- tells her that future violations could result in her e-mail privileges being revoked and even her termination.

User says that she's sorry and it won't happen again, and hangs up.

A few days later, fish is called on the carpet by his boss, who says the user complained that fish was excessively rude. He strongly suggests that fish call the user and apologize. Fish doesn't much like it, but he does -- and the call is noted in fish's HR file.

Flash forward two months: Fish arrives at work on a Monday morning after a four-day weekend and spots another e-mail addressed to every account in the company, send just after lunch Friday.

"Remembering the trouble I got into before, I decided to ignore the message unless someone complained," fish says.

"Come about 4 p.m., I get a visit from the HR director, who calls in my manager and informs him that I'm getting written up for being rude to the same user again on Friday. The HR director even has a mandate that I take a series of anger-management classes or I will have to be terminated."

Fish points out that he's been out of town on vacation since Wednesday night and didn't see the e-mail until this morning.

HR director says the call log shows the call came from fish's phone on Friday, so he must be lying. Then he turns to fish's boss. Was he at work on Friday? he asks.

Fish's boss has a quizzical look on his face. Then he calmly replies that, no, fish was on vacation Friday.

In fact, boss says, his office's air conditioning was being repaired that day, so he was working at fish's desk when the user's e-mail arrived. He was the one who called the user from fish's phone, quoted that handbook policy to the user again and told her this was her second offense and he would be requesting that she be written up.

"He said the user replied 'I'll be damned!' and hung up," says fish.

"The HR director then looked at me and apologized, removed both incidents from my HR file and initiated termination procedures for the employee."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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