Tempting but Ill-Advised Email Auto-Responses

Email can be a time-saving, productive tool; that is, except when your friends and family are the ones behind it.

If Sender = Susan, Working Mom

Thank you for telling me that you’ve just dropped off little Benjamin and are heading into work “for a few hours before a lunch meeting.” I am glad to hear that your babysitter will be arriving later so that you and Charles can try that new restaurant downtown. Your organizational skills and joie de vivre are staggering.

Still: How is any of this relevant to the subject of my original email—picking a time for a play date next Wednesday?

If Sender = Hannah, High-School Classmate

I know you hate your job and your sister is a nightmare and you wish she would move out and you haven’t had a date in 10 months. But didn’t you just get back from Paris? Thanks for the cute hat, but we’re at really different stages right now, girlfriend.

If Sender = Jodie, Stay-at-Home Mom

Many people are tired and underappreciated. Calling for an “infanticide watch” because Henry and Josie are home with fevers, however, isn’t funny, nor are the repeated references to sterilizing yourself and your husband.

Don’t email back until you stop referring to “dinner” as “supper.”

If Sender = Laura, PR Executive

I think your emailing style has been damaged by the years of cold calling. Remember: I know your first and last name. I know the hours it’s best to reach you, and I have your home, work, and cell-phone numbers, as well as the number at your beach house. And yes, I even know how to reach your company’s website.

But, most important, I know that I will not be able to help mulch the school playground on Friday, attend the Room Parent meeting on Monday, or help organize Parent Date Night.

etc. etc.

If Sender = My Husband

Thanks for the link, but nothing is funny with a toddler screaming and pulling at your leg. Having a nice day?

If Sender = Nicole, Ex-College Roommate

Last book I read: The Daddy Mountain. Last book you read: The Letters of Wallace Stevens.

See the problem?

If Sender = The Lady at Church

It’s wonderful you found a community at St. Paul’s through the Young Family Potluck Dinner Club, but I will not. I went to church that day for solitude more than anything else. It was nice to meet you and you were kind to let me borrow your cell phone after the service when I discovered my car had been towed—but I am not looking for a “Christian-oriented” play group right now. I don’t know what that would be. I don’t even know how you got this address. Please stop emailing me.

If Sender = My Mother

To view a photo sent by email, click on the attachment! It’s there. I swear.

Regarding your recent phone message: I appreciate the advice on diaper training, Ritalin use, TV programming, and the signs of emotional distress in toddlers, but please remember that our machine allows a message of one minute only. That voice telling you that you have 10 seconds remaining was not me picking up.


TMN Contributing Writer Jessica Francis Kane’s first novel, The Report (Graywolf Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her story collection, This Close (Graywolf Press, 2013) was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Story Prize and was named a Best Book of the year by NPR. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children. More by Jessica Francis Kane