Death by e-mail

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This week I’m sitting in for an editor who’s on holiday. August is when a lot of magazine journalists travel, and our staff right now is skeletal. You know they’re desperate when they ask the likes of me to manage a section. I am the dregs, people. The grill scrapings. The underside of the barrel.

Anyway, among the innumerable annoyances of being the boss of people, the torrent of e-mail feels particularly deathly. I mean, wow. I would say my inbox has ballooned by, I don’t know, tenfold. The bell seems to ding every minute with a new batch. I’m developing a Pavlovian response to that ding. Once it evoked the pleasant anticipation of a doorbell; now I’m thinking that behind that door is a Jehovah’s Witness (as a contestant said on Last Comic Standing, I got nothing against those folks, but that’s a long conversation).

The thing is, I’m guilty of adding to the avalanche in my regular role as worker bee. I’m big on the cc. If I come across an interesting story or data in my web trolls, I forward it to a half dozen folks who might find it relevant. If I’m out of the office, I let every boss who may want me know. In other words, I practice C.O.A. e-mail etiquette.

In my current and extremely temporary role as boss person, I find I do the hot potato too. If someone asks me something, I cc a few others in the reply so they can weigh in. I probably wouldn’t do that if I were a real boss because I’d know the answers.

Of course, this will not happen. I will never be a real boss person because I don’t want to die by e-mail.