The sign-off

A few years back, when we were sorting out the email signatures for all addresses in the organization, we added one of those usual notices you tend to at the very end: "If you received this email in error, please notify us immediately by sending an email or by calling."

It wasn't my idea, I'll be the first to admit. It wouldn't have occurred to me to put something like this. It's not the sort of thing I'd really read in corporate emails, but then, you know it's everywhere. But then, you don't really need notices for that sort of thing, ideally. When you get an email that's clearly not for you - which happens to me often, especially since my dad and I are in the same industry, and sort of share the same name, too - you let the sender know they sent it to the wrong person, and then you send it to the intended recipient.

But then, not everybody does that. Some people can be assholes. I guess that's why you have those notices at the end, from short lines about etiquette to paragraphs on confidentiality. This email should never get out of this thread. Okay, it doesn't say that exactly, but you get my drift.

Yesterday I got an email with a different kind of notice, although, again, I'll admit I didn't notice it the first time because I don't really read those things. That, and GMail has this habit of hiding email signatures in replies. But I digress.

"In our company" - I amended this, of course, but this is a consultancy firm - "we work flexibly," the signature said. "I do not expect a response outside of your own working hours."

As a guy who, for better or worse, is on call 24/7, that hit me.

I spent yesterday morning at a new Tim Hortons branch in Makati without a laptop - I would've brought it, but it's heavy, so I didn't - answering emails while waiting for registration at this event I'm attending to officially open. If I had a Mac, I thought, entertaining my lifelong fantasies again, I wouldn't look unproductive here - and I thought that despite my table having a magazine that I'm clearly reading. But, well, people whose every hour is a working hour tend to have Macs. It's light, it's sexy... no wonder people have fantasies of the freelance life. That, and the ability to work in coffee shops.

The event was up until lunch time, so I managed to do some work when I got home a couple of hours later. Again, a bunch of emails. I was surprised I didn't have any more to do. But then I sent a couple of emails later that evening, just a couple of leads we're trying to chase down or something.

"I do not expect a response outside of your own working hours."

Well, this is the world we live in right now - no working hours, because every hour is a working hour. But at least I still manage to get some (some!) sleep. A couple of weeks back I woke up in the middle of the night - we were in the middle of the sea, on a boat trip to Bacolod, and it was the occasional slosh of the waves that you tend to forget that got me up. Also, there was mobile coverage, which is rare (but understandable) if you're travelling by sea, and I was at a work trip, so I checked my email. Someone sent me an email at one in the morning. I promptly replied, taking advantage of the situation. It was three in the morning.

And your responses...

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