I expect that my colleagues or clients will feel some disappointment when they get that immediate reply to their e-mail only to discover it's not a real reply but rather a notice that I won't be available for the next few days. About two years ago I decided to try and lessen the impact of that disappointment with a little humor. Judging by the amount of amused responses I received back, below are my top six auto-reply out-of-office messages:
Subject: Out of Office - "Interrupt your Vacation"
I am currently out of the office on vacation.
I know I'm supposed to say that I'll have limited access to email and won't be able to respond until I return - but that's not true. My iPad will be with me and I can respond if I need to and will probably be responding to some e-mails.
However, I am worried that the more I take my iPad out on vacation, the more it will be thrown in my face when my girls get old enough to bring their electronic devices on vacation.
Therefore, I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to leave the decision in your hands: If your email truly is urgent and important enough to risk increasing the teenage angst I will inevitably be dealing with when both my girls get older, then please resend it with the subject heading: "interrupt your vacation" and I'll try to respond to it promptly.
If you think someone else at our firm might be able to help you, feel free to call 508.655.5980 and speak to Melissa or Valerie. Otherwise, I'll respond when I return on July 8th. Enjoy your 4th of July!
Subject: Out of Office - "Comparative Urgency Rating"
I'm on vacation until September 5, 2013. While on vacation I will not respond to most of my incoming emails because, being on vacation, I'm likely to be frolicking on a beach or something, and reading emails is incompatible with frolicking.
I may read your email when taking a break from the beach, but if your request is urgent you should contact Valerie or Melissa at 508.655.5980.
If you think your request cannot be handled by Val or Melissa compare it to the examples in the table below and pick your comparative Urgency Rating of 1 to 5. Then resend your email but start the subject line with "Urgency Rating of ___":
Urgency Rating of 1: You noticed my company has a mobile website and you think you can make it better.
Urgency Rating of 2: Your cat just yawned and you want to show me a picture.
Urgency Rating of 3: You want me to volunteer for a committee.
Urgency Rating of 4: You are a paying client and only my unique brand of straight talk, good looks, and being tall can solve your problem this week.
Urgency Rating of 5: You are Joss Whedon.
Subject: Out of Office - "Sad Batman"
I am currently out of gotham on vacation.
But don't be as sad as Batman, I'll be back before you know it.
I am returning to the office on Monday, July 7, 2014. Please give Melissa or Valerie a call at 508.655.5980 if you need immediate assistance.
Otherwise, I'll respond to your e-mail when I return on July 7th. Enjoy your 4th of July!
Subject: Out of Office - "Meditation"
Please follow these instructions:
Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Slowly let out your breath and continue to breathe slowly. Imagine that you are leaning back on a reclining beach chair. Feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your skin. Listen to the soft repeating woosh of the ocean waves. Reach out your right hand and grab a drink. The ice sloshes around as you bring the straw to your mouth and sip. Ahhhhhhh.
I am currently out of the office on vacation and now hopefully you feel like you are there with me. Unless of course, you actually followed the directions in which case your eyes are still closed and you're holding your breath. Quick, let it out!
That's better. Now, since you're not actually on the beach with me, I won't be able to respond to your request until I return on August 25, 2014. If you need assistance before then please give Melissa or Valerie a call at 508.655.5980.
Subject: Out of Office - "Let it Go"
Sung to the melody of Let it Go:
The snow glows white in Metro West tonight
Not a Kelsey to be seen
He's leaving on his vacation
And it looks like it's a dream.
His kids are howling like a swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows they tried!
He'll let them in, He'll let them see
They're taking their first trip to see Disney
You're here, don't fear, you didn't know
Well, now you know!
Let it go, let it go
He's only gone one week more
Let it go, let it go
Melissa and Val are available for any emergencies.
Okay, that last line needs some work, but you get the point. I will be returning to the office on Monday, December 15, 2014. I may check e-mails while away, or I may be spending the whole time waiting in line to meet Elsa and Anna. If you want to build a snowman, or if you need an immediate response please contact Valerie or Melissa at 508.655.5980.
Subject: Out of Office - "End of the World"
On Friday, June 26, 2015, SCOTUS ruled on marriage equality and 5 out of 9 justices determined that all 50 states should allow same-sex marriages. The dissenting opinions foretell the end of democracy and possibly worse. So I'm going to take a short vacation in case the world ends.
If you're all still here on Wednesday, July 1, 2015, then I will return to the office. If you need an immediate response please contact Valerie or Melissa at 508.655.5980.