March 20th, 2002


Why my OOTO messages are so hardcore.

Another in a irregular series of stories from my life.

When I'm away from work for multiple days, I try to be a good corporate citizen and inform my other worker bees, my managers, opposite numbers and other interested parties by sending a OOTO (Out Of The Office) message. However some people are surprised by the tone and content.

The message usually takes the form of:

To: Interested Parties
Subject: JohnO OOTO from {date} to {date}, back on {day,date}.

I'm off to {location} to relax and unwind.

I will NOT be checking eMail.
I will NOT be checking vMail.
I will NOT be taking my pager
I will have my cell phone, but only for personal & family emergencies.

Why so hardcore and detailed?

This is the straw that broke the camels back.

I sent out a very generic OOTO message, before I headed out on a vacation that included attending a cousin's wedding then spending a week in the Lake Tahoe area.

One of our activities was a grand tour of the Lake and by doing the circle drive around the lake. Stopping at many of the mini-beaches and bits of shoreline that were easily accessible, hiking through woods, etc, etc. All and all a beautiful day and a beautiful place.

That is till my pager started going off showing a NYC number. I ignored it. It kept going off and going off and ... You get the picture. After about the 10th page. I finally called the #. "Hi this is JohnO. Someone has paged me multiple times to call this number." "Ummm, I don't know anything about that." Hearing crowd noises I asked him to check around.

Soon one of our Sales Droids is on the line, frantic that the demo system at a trade show was dead and whining that I hadn't responded to any of the earlier pages.

(sigh, into support mode I go, you know the thing I was trying to unwind from)
"I'm in Tahoe on vacation. Define Dead"

"Some customer was playing with the configuration and now we can't log into the application."

"Why did you let a customer into the config... Never mind. What’s the error on login?"

Gives it to me.

"That's a standard thing stupid or vindictive admins do. You need to restore X file."

"How do I do that?"

***Read the Demo system Doc!!!***
Give her the steps.

"It works. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

"You owe me a lunch at Y for this."
(Y was a fancy place near our work site.)

On my return there is no thanks from her, no eMail, no vMail and my boss didn't mention receiving thanks for my time from her. I don't usually go looking for acknowledgment, but damnit she interrupted a vacation for something that was documented and at least 3 other folks could have helped her with.

So I sent here eMail saying "Tues at 1pm was good for me to go to Y."

"For what?"

"For the call while you were in NYC."

"Isn't that part of your job?"

"Not when I'm on vacation."

"You were on vacation?"
(My OOTO was cc'd to her, days before she left to boot.)

"Yeah, it was one of the first things I said."


I got my lunch at Y, she never called me directly again for any at show issues and just to make damned sure it didn't happen again I started sending out the above hardcore and very detailed OOTO message.
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