December 30, 2003
We have newsgroups at my office. Basically, a couple email folders in Outlook for people to post messages about crap for sale, junk for rent, and corporate cheerleading rah-rah messages. And at least one person is perpetually looking for a good plumber.
While it’s a nice place to score sports tickets or used DVDs, you must be very careful before posting. Think about it. I once posted a request for an orthopedic surgeon (Knee injury from skiing. I hit a tree on the bunny trail. Yeah, I’m way hardcore.) and got about seventy-bazillion responses…all accompanied by people’s harrowing tales of injury, surgery and recovery.
One lady called and literally kept me on the phone for 20 minutes as she yakked about her broken neck and the miraculous recovery made possible because of the good people over at Bethesda Orthopedics. I was all, ew, but seriously, you just can’t interrupt someone who broke her neck and nearly died and still soldiers on in newsletter publishing with “Oh, thanks, I really just need the doctor’s name, so bye!” But I did pretend my other line was ringing when I sensed the conversation was headed in the "And wouldn't you like to have a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord?" direction.
One woman posts an ad for her husband’s house painting services at least once a month. This can be a problem. He’s an ok painter, but really, really expensive. But you absolutely cannot post a request for a painter recommendation because well, you know. She has a monopoly and she knows it, and the entire company knows it.
Another woman, let’s call her Merri Way, posts to the newsgroup for everything. She lives and breathes for the announcement board. Pot holders for sale. A lost pen. Recommendations for a gastroenterologist in the Rockville area but the Gaithersburg side of Rockville, not Rockville Rockville or the Bethesda side of Rockville. She once sold off everything in her elderly mother’s townhouse in precisely one dozen newsgroup posts over two weeks' time.
This woman has clearly lost her ever-loving mind, and I was beyond thrilled to meet her last year at the company Christmas party. I was a tad tipsy, so when I saw her nametag I was all, “Merri! Announcement Board Merri! Hi!” She looked really confused but also like a really nice person.
Her latest post entitled Good News!!!! and gives her cousin’s current rates for mortgage refinancing. See? Nice but way crazy.
Here are some of the recent subject lines, completely unedited, because they're funnier that way:
“BOOKS ARE FUN” Fair is coming!
In Search Of a Treadmill
Its Bingo Night at Northwest High Schoo!!
“BOOKS ARE FUN” reminder!
CAR LIGHTS ON
books are fun rescheduled
Can anyone recommend a heater repair service operating in Takoma Park area?
Recommendation for a licensed/certified chimney sweep company
Pampered Chef Products
Looking for egg cartons for school project
CAR LIGHTS ON
If you wanted to get all deep about it, you could certainly view these subject lines as glimpses into the inner workings of my company and the sad, sad little existences of its workers. But I also bought the collector's edition DVD of Fight Club for only $8 not too long ago, so I don't really want to think about it.