Saturday 11 October 2008

Ever emailed while intoxicated?

Yes, some of us know it as EWI.

It stands for sending an email while under the influence.

In the past we just had to rely on self control and possibly an understanding email recipient with a sense of humor to let us off the hook when we got it wrong. But now, 37 years after email was launched, along comes that ten year old prodigy Google to the rescue.

Google has launched Gmail Goggles through its free email. It is, by default, only active late at night and during the weekend—the times supposedly when people will need it the most.

In addition to doing a few mathematic equations, Goggles gives you a few seconds to think about whether or not your ex truly will be happy to wake up to a semi-coherent e-mail professing undying love and regret at the split. If you cannot answer the equations you apparently aren't in a fit state to send an email. Given the state of our education system this little enhancement should reduce the number of emails substantially, whether people have been drinking or not.

A slightly lubricated email (and lets not forget the text messages) sent in the early hours of the morning after several hours at the pub can be forwarded along to anyone and everyone, resulting in instant humiliation and possibly worse.

However, lucky for us, Google is going to try and save us from ourselves.

Do you think that Google is really doing us a favour by introducing an 'artificial conscience' into the email equation?

I don't think so. Stuffing up and making a fool of yourself can be character building. Besides, we know the two most important character strengths are self control and resilience. How do we become resilient if someone is there to catch us every time we show poor impulse control?

Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person by mistake? I have. And of course there are those emails I may have sent which I didn't regard as a mistake but the recipient may have.

I've never needed alcohol to cause my brain to short circuit. Stupidity seems to work just fine. I learnt a lesson early in my career and now my email philosophy is this - I never put in writing what I wouldn't say politely to someones face.
Given I like my readers to feel better about themselves and, in order to raise the collective self esteem, I'm willing to share my mistakes with you on this particular issue (I know, it's magnanimous of me) .

I once made a horrendous mistake with an office email. I had youth on my side and that's the only reason I'm telling you this. Youth is an excuse for most stupid mistakes in life. I'm just glad that Google wasn't there to bail me out before I pressed the send button. It was a lesson that I needed to learn earlier than later.

You see, I may or may not have sent an email meant for a co-worker about my thoughts on a particular CEO and accidentally sent it via group email to the entire department. Let's just say that there were thousands of emails sent that day with my signature. It was a particularly colourful and robust email. Perhaps one of my best. The kind that you will often find penned by a know it all, stupid, immature youth with no regard for 'how the system works around here'.

When I realised what had happened, I seriously contemplated overcoming my fear of heights by jumping out of the 16th floor window. I was beside myself. In fact, forget about drinking before sending emails I could have quite happily drowned my sorrows after sending the email.

I had to act quickly. There was only one option open to me before I was located, captured and dragged away to the mail room where I might have had to languish for the rest of my days licking envelopes. I had to take control of my inevitable downfall from the lowest rung of the corporate ladder to the gutter.

I rang the CEO's personal assistant and made an urgent appointment to see him. I had to do some fast talking as to why a lowly staff member such as I needed to meet with him. I believe the words, 'national disaster', may have sprung from my lips (in a loud screeching wail).

All the way to his office I was humming ...and now, the end is near; and so I face the final curtain. My friend, Ill say it clear, Ill state my case, of which I'm certain.....

I felt like a child going to the Principal's office. As I walked in he stood up to his full 6ft 4 inches. He shook my hand in a steel like clasp and said, "so what can I do for you?" My first thought was to drop to my knees, grab onto his legs and beg his forgiveness (and perhaps give his shoes a spit and polish while I was there).

But no, it's not really my style.

I just cut to the chase. Staring at his bald spot seemed to calm my nerves. In a nutshell, I just told him that I had unfortunately sent out an email by mistake to everyone in the Department telling them I thought he sucked. I said that given this was bound to get back to him with a recommendation that I be sacked, I thought I had better come and tell him to his face. Woman to Man. He laughed. And laughed.

Strangely, he never forgot who I was. He always spoke to me whenever he saw me, he ended up playing a hilarious practical joke on me. Although I did suffer somewhat at the hands of my immediate supervisors who were less forgiving, I not only learnt to keep my emotions in check when sending emails but learnt that CEOs, even ones I thought sucked, had a sense of humour. His attitude also taught me how to cope when as a boss, I was on the receiving end of such reviews myself.

So Google, I wonder, where's it all going to end?

What will you give us for your 11th birthday, a USB breathalyser ?

Perhaps for your 12th birthday you could give us an anecdote for foot in mouth disease. Now that, I could do with.

Anyway, Happy 10th Birthday Google, you've come a long way in a short time. You clever thing, you.

Do you have any embarrassing email stories? Of course we know that they wouldn't be about you but about someone you know...we totally get that...


  1. Never guilty of EWI but I have sent a few e-mails out when I was extremely hormonal. They are pretty much the same thing, though.

    My judgement was definitely clouded when I sent a rambling tirade to an estranged friend. When I read it over again the next day I was mortified and disturbed that I couldn't even blame alcohol or any other substance. It was PMS. I never heard from the person who received my nastygram and I am kinda glad about that.

    There should be more prompt boxes before you send such missives. Like "Are you sure?' "You were kind of bitchy." "Why don't you sleep on this." "Look, go lie down for awhile."
    "This may end all ties with the receipient." " For God sakes are you out of your mind?" "Run for cover."

    Peace - Rene

  2. lol...loved the post Lilly. I emailed while drunk with grief...I thought I was emailing a mutual male friend, but it was in fact an extreme sport guide (how he was in my email address list I will never know). I lamented about my marriage break up, my poor broken heart, how I hadn't had sex for months and how I didn't have any money, etc. The guy emailed me back to let me know he wasn't who I thought he was but that if I wanted to catch up to fill my needs, free of charge, he would happily oblige me in my hour of need.

    I NEARLY DIED!!!!! I was terrified he would go to the paper with a story about a child protection advocate soliciting for sex. I was so ashamed and confused about how on earth he was sent the email???

    I am still cringing in shame as I write this, but after 10 years I can also have a bit of a laugh at my own silly mistake!

    I wanted a button that would open the ground and let me drop into it!!!

  3. haha Lilly ..
    a USB breathalyser...good one...
    actually Googles chrome bar is not bad at all and a lot faster than IE...
    I'm not a big fan of email...though I think the temptation to blather on and put your foot in it is there...especially if you are prone to waffling...(I know I'm guilty of that at times)

  4. Are you kidding? I am with Megan. I have sent my fair share to exes. Sad, pathetic emails with a glass of red in hand. Oh I cringe with embarassment but at least I gave them something to laugh about. I have also done something at work too. I sent an email to someone about another person who I had arranged to go somewhere on a conference and they drove me mad with their demands. I said to this guy in the email that this person 'had driven me insane because she's a pathetic whinger and a b***h'. I swear who would have thought it. While he had his email open she was standing right behind him at his desk. She rang me. I was mortified and mumbled and I went on and on trying to get myself out of it and only dug myself further in it. Good to see we are in such great company here. Megan, you are hilarious. I so identify with you. Oh I felt your pain reading that but hey that guy was grateful to do a community service, lol. Thanks for the laugh everyone. Not the Rockerfellars, I loved your solution. I think you should suggest this to Google. We need those error messages for our emails. They should pay you, they are brilliant.

  5. Not guilty of EWI (I've not been inebriated since 1984).

    Last winter, I tried to explain to someone, via email, why I wanted no contact with him/her. The more I tried to explain myself, the worse the situation got. Finally, I did what I should have done right from the start--ignore hi/her and say nothing.

    Great post, and I like the way you handled your CEO.

  6. Thanks for the great compliment on my picture blog. I love stopping by yours. You are so funny and you have a truly original voice!
    Keep up the great blogs.

  7. @ Rene - Not the Rockefellers - You crack me up - that is such a funny comment and I LOVE your prompt boxes - HILARIOUS!!!! And Nastygrams - he he. Glad I am not alone. Thanks for making me smile.

    @ Megan - oh my gosh, wehn I read your comment I laughed and laughed. Oh that is SO what I and lots of women would do to. And to think it went to MR Extreme Sportsman too! He probably thought all of his Christmases had come at once. You should send this story somewhere and get it published. Very funny and thanks for sharing. Hold your head up girl, that guy was flattered, best offer he had had for the last 10 years too I bet!

    @ Kim - we are probably wise to restrict our email contact - but I think I am addicted. In fact I was only thinking yesterday that I am not sure I could even physically handwrite a letter anymore. I think I need to bring it back. Do you sell prints of your work on notepaper cards or something? I need to do some Etsy shopping.

    @ Sarah - your experience is hilarious too. See we have all done it I guess. Megan and Rene are funny aren't they?

    @ Gran - glad you are on the straight and narrow. It is true sometimes its better to just have no contact than explain difficult things by email - its hard to do. Glad it worked for you anyway and that is good advice!

    @ c - thanks for dropping by I really love your picture blog. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  8. Lilly - you are beautifully, wonderfully nutz!

  9. @ Jean - thanks, err I think, lol! Yes I choose to focus on the lighter side of life these days. I was at your blog and you must have been at mine at the same time! Congratulations on your stats too -anyone reading these comments go visit June's blogs!!

  10. I have worked in IT for years, and one of the most regular problems I was asked to deal with was to retrieve emails that should never have been sent. The most frequent was caused by hitting "Reply all" instead of "Reply", or replying instead of forwarding - in both those cases the message would have been accompanied by a defamatory remark. The best of all, if it could be called that, happened when someone sent a very silly email intended for a close friend to the whole organisation, including the CEO. Fortunately I was able to retrieve that one before he saw it. It's always a good idea to have a built in delay, even if it's only a case of wanting to add an afterthought.

  11. I think EWH (email whilst hormonal), as Rene pointed out, could be even worse than EWI. Definitely more dangerous for the recipient anyway! :)

    As to Megan - if I give you my email address, I don't suppose you'd like to... er ... No, sorry. Of course not. What was I thinking? Forget I said that!

    Oh dear, I guess we're all in the same sort of danger of making a total ass of ourselves when we comment on blogs too! Well, I am anyway ;)

  12. Megan I have to tell you that as a guy I have made a right twat of myself with my exes albeit not strangers though. So it's just not the girls who do this although Rene has a point regarding the hormonal communication. It's a rather deadly combination PMS and communication fullstop. No matter what medium it is delivered. In fact during the bad times I would prefer only email contact as opposed face to face or phone. It could have been worse Megan - the guy could have rejected you out of hand. Then again, how could he refuse! You have made my day and CJW666s as well it seems. Don't be surprised Megan if your reader numbers swell a bit today over at your blog. I love Aussies because you can laugh at yourselves better than any nationality I know. Well done Lilly. You always create a lot of discussion among your readers. Shame we aren't all out drinking for hours in a pub together and then coming back and blogging. Wonder what Google would say about that?

  13. Lilly that took guts to face up to the boss like that. Wow, and the right thing to do obviously. Not to mention embarrassing. I say you're a role model.

  14. I know it's Silent Sunday but I just wanted to tell you that I've given you the You're Appreciated un-award over at my blog.

  15. @ a - oh what a job - actually its good to hear it from the other side. I didnt even know you could retrieve emails so there you go I have learnt something. thanks for dropping by.

    @ cw666- funny comment - Ithink Rene could be right too actually! As for Megan what a girl - and she is wonderful too and does great work!

    @ Stefan - maybe you and cjw666 should email one another, lol! I bet you have had loads of examples you could have told us. What about it then?

    @ Kim - thanks for your comment and I will stop by your blog.

    @ Christine - thnks for your comment - thats sweet of you. Must catch up with your blog too to see how that bathroom is coming along!

    @ Preston - thank you very much for your award. I am very surprised. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Loved this post .... I tend to put those emails in the draft folder for 24 hours and usually in that time I go do a face to face .... sometimes it works sometimes it does not - hee hee le

  17. no I've been either very careful or very lucky.

    I have written blog posts whilst under the influence, but as I always post things around a day after I've written them, the indulgent ones get binned or modified.

    I've always been very careful about the written or typed word.

    You're right though - people learn from mistakes and we are now such a protected society we take the first opportunity to sue and make money from our ineptitude


  18. I messed up sober when I was younger. I was at work and angry at an engineer that was giving me a hard time. I emailed my friend to vent and sent it to the guy I was angry at. Boy was I upset and so was he! LOL

  19. Thank God I don't drink, because I type very fast (comes with playing the piano since I was 8 years old). My fingers tend to go fast than the brain has time to load and reload or empty the thought or at least reconsider the words.

    I learned the hard way too. I was emailing back and forth with a supervisor of a department and she was discussing the horrible job a particular employee was doing. Because I was thinking about the employee, I typed in that person's name to send reply to!

    That was about 15 yeas ago. I'm careful now about the "sender."

  20. @ le - you are sensible, I still need to learn to sit on things for a while. Thanks for all your comments - appreciate them.

    @ soulmerlin - I think you are the careful, considered sort and I love that about you. Blog posts while under the influence - now is that where you get your wonderful creativity from? I have to learn to be so organised.

    @ On the verge= glad to know its happened to someone else too! Least when it happens we very quickly learn.

    @ Aleta - oh Aleta - and i bet you will never make that mistake again. You play piano - I dont recall that either - gosh you are a clever women. Very artistic, poet, write and pianist. Everyone reading this should go check out Aleta's blog - its a wonderful place to visit.

  21. Oh bless your heart! I am seriously laughing out loud on that one. Oh the horror and embarrassment! You sucked it up and took your medicine though. I'll give you that!

    Email recall is what I think they should have. If they haven't read it yet, you could yank it back. DELETE!!!

    Hilarious post :)

  22. That story takes the cake! Too funny! I did once send out an email to a friend of mine, or so I thought and I was telling somethings that I shouldn't of been telling about the people I actually sent it too!

  23. @ Trouble x 2 - It was hilarious I would have to say and the sad thing is I have so many other hilarious stories just like that. Nothing embarasses me anymore. Wish you lived nearby - I think we have very similar senses of humor!

    @ Wheresmyangels - oh I am glad that there is someone else who has done something similar. You just want the ground to open up and swallow you. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I will come and visit you.

  24. Wonderful Blog!!

    My friend and I have a pack never to drunk (more me buzz) blogging, e-mails, etc because both of us have made a fool of sending things out that should not have.. and that also goes with the hormonal for me too LOL.

  25. I would be guilty of EWI if I had wireless at home, but being a rural gal places limits on me...just a few anyway! HA!

    I must say this story had me cracking up...and I was impressed with your guts to stick it to him to his face!!

    I agree that sometimes the only filter we need in life is ourselves, not some program that has "my best interest" in mind...whatever happened to Live and Learn!

    {{I say this NOW, since no EWI has been committed!!}}

  26. I agree with NTR's post that PMS might be more dangerous than a late night drunken rant.

    Look out!!! She's clear headed, hormonally out-of-control and able to clear any hurdles or captcha codes that the search engines place in her path. It's Super PMS Girl!

    Whatever happened to count to 10 before you speak or push send?

  27. @ Leigh - thanks for stopping by - I so love your talent and will have to go shopping at your Etsy shop soon.

    @ Farmgirl - oh you lucky thing you have a clean slate - now EWI's for you - I stay away from emails now when I can...

    @ Claire - love it Super PMS Girl now that would be a good idea for a blog name and a whole string of merchandise - you should trademark that! Thanks for stopping by.


Thanks for your comments.