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Out-of-Office Replies

John W. Pinkerton


Each month on the 14th, I publish my website, oldartguy.com.  I have a contact list of over 500 folks that I send emails to notifying them that the new edition is available.   What I usually get in return are a lot of automatic responses.  Most of these are from college and university folks.  Here are a few examples:

“I am currently traveling for a conference and research.  As a result I will be answering email more slowly.  Thank you for your consideration.”

Hmmm…“answering emails more slowly”? Could there be drugs involved with his conference and “research”?

“Thank you for writing.  I am traveling abroad with limited access to email until July 17, 2018; please forgive any delay this may cause in my response to your message, and know I look forward to replying to you as soon as possible.” 

I know this guy just loved saying “traveling abroad.”  I suspect he may have just traveled abroad to Juarez, but I must admit that I wouldn't have said that either.

“Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office until July 17th. If you would like to make an appointment with me, visit my guide and click on Schedule an Appointment button, just below my picture. Please note that I am at Evans on Thursdays, otherwise in my office.”

Now wait a minute.  “Out of my office”?  In the hallway?  And, who is Evan?  Sounds pretty shady to me.

“I will be on Faculty Research Leave Summer through Fall 2018.  I will be traveling and will sometimes have only sporadic access to email. I will do my best to respond to emails as I receive them, but if you have an emergency or need to contact me immediately, I suggest reaching me by phone or leaving a message with the Department.”

Hmmm… “faculty research leave”  until 2018?  I think this guy has been recruited by the KGB.  Notice that he didn't provide his telephone number.

“I am out of town in writing seclusion until 13 July.  There may be a delay in my reply to your message.”


“Writing seclusion”---really?  You couldn't have said “doing some writing,” but I must admit I like it.  It brings to mind Johnny Depp's  Secret Window.

“Howdy!  I am out of the office, but will be checking email.”

Simple and to the point.  No “seclusion” in this one.  I like this guy.

“Please leave me a message, and I will try to get back to you.”

Busy fellow.  He's obviously burdened by his responsibilities and can only “try” to get back with me.

“Hello, I will be traveling abroad for two weeks in June, and will be responding only to urgent emails. I'll be responding to all email upon my return on June 25. Thank you for your understanding.”

Translation: “I'll be traveling abroad for two week in June and you won’t, and I don't expect to have time or the inclination to respond to your inane emails.  Get a life.”

“The spring semester has concluded, and I am not teaching summer school.  I will not be in the office over the summer.  I will be checking for critical emails from time to time.  I will be back in the office with regular hours in August.”

I guess sending this fellow a good-luck-with your-summer message wouldn't be prudent…wouldn't be considered “critical.”

I usually just glance at these.  Reading the first line which usually begins with, “I'll be out of my office….”

What I'd like to read are more creative automatic responses.

“I died the other day, but I'll respond to your email as soon as possible.”

“I'm fed up with this Hell hole and will be vacationing for two weeks.  Catch you later.”

“I bumped my head on my ego.  Obviously I don't have to respond to your message any time soon.”

“I've gone on a two-week binge of drugs and alcohol.  I'll do the best I can to…what were we talking about?”

“It's football season.  I don't have any interest in your silly email until we win the National Championship.”

It's going to be a long wait.

“My wife left me.  Need I say more?”

Yeah, I guess I'll just have to wait for these interesting responses.

Now there is another type of response I get to my notification emails: typically they read something like this, “Take me off of your mailing list please.”  I interpret these as, “Damn it, remove me from your mailing list,” followed by another, “Damn it.”


I understand.  If you don't like art or words, it's pointless for you to be viewing the site.  I'm always very polite and respond with, “I'll remove your address from our mailing list immediately.  I appreciate your taking the time to look at oldartguy.com.  Ya'll have a nice day now.

Your friend,


Of course it would be nice to get some responses like, “Great issue, John,” or, “Thanks,” but I'm a grownup and can live without them.

Ya'll have a nice day now.