• Robb G. Best

The Smoking Monkey Memo

The inventor of the airplane seatbelt was a man ahead of his time. It's an over-used expression but in this case, it applies: engineer and inventor Sir George Cayley was born in 1773 and died in 1857, before the Wright brothers were even born. If you haven’t visited earth in the last 157 years or so, and/or if you’re an extraterrestrial who's never boarded a commercial airliner, don’t panic. The use of the seatbelt will be most adequately demonstrated to you. This is for your own safety. You’ll master it in no time. It turns out the simple technology has changed very little since the days of Sir George. Along the same lines, if you’ve been in a coma since 1992 and you’ve just awakened at your work desk from a deep slumber, there are a couple of other things that haven’t changed. The person in the cubicle next to you is 22 years older, but still annoying. The lunchroom still smells like fish, and the half-eaten Twinkie you left on the counter in the beginnings of the Clinton administration is as fresh as a daisy. A couple of refreshers for you concerning use of email. You'll notice your inbox is suffering from what we in the business world call “serious bloat.” You’re going to want to create some new folders for quick sorting: The Curly, Moe and Larry folder This is for all the emails that come from your boss who, woke up in the middle of the night, threw together the email address of every employee they remember ever having, and dashed off a single question to the entire group. General chaos ensues: should you answer it? Should everyone answer it? Should nobody answer it? The comedy of errors won't disperse until there's been at least two slapstick punches, three double eye pokes, and a host of "yuk, yuk, yuk"s. For brevity's sake, this folder can be labled ‘Shemp’, as in, " My boss just Shemped me." The turd on the porch folder This type of email has its origin in a Halloween tradition you may remember, involving a paper bag and a lighter. In this case, there is no bag or fire, but it’s generally disseminated by your boss when he or she is, shall we say, less than satisfied with your output. Note: Try not to get this email on your shoes. The "big sneeze" folder This folder covers another subtype of email where the header includes the entire known universe. The sender's intended purpose is to blanket everyone with some small but equal amount of blame for something they personally screwed up. It also sometimes goes by the name "smallpox blanket email", after the US Calvary’s less than honorable gifting strategy towards the American Plains Indians. If one of your colleagues should open this message before you do, and clues you in to its content, delete the file. It can be highly contagious. The three-Beatle folder This concerns those missives with titles like "quick huddle up meeting". You’ll notice that the header of this email is missing the name of one person on your work team. This is a sure sign that person is getting sacked, or, more euphemistically, is “being made available to the industry." Much like the Beatle who did nothing but show up with a drum and a smile, your former co-worker failed to pull their weight. We might say they went "full Ringo." The smiling face folder If you get any email that has a smiley face, stop reading and delete it immediately. Much like a bus full of clowns, nothing good can come of it. In fact, just delete this folder altogether. You don’t get paid enough for recovery therapy. The Maguire folder This one takes its name from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, when the eponymous sports agent, played by Tom "the trainwreck" Cruise, has a near mental breakdown and speaks truth to power. Note: In real life, you don’t get to keep the goldfish, and Renee Zellweger won’t be waiting to wrap her tiny little arms around you. It is true, however, that the human head weighs about ten pounds. The "smoking monkey memo" folder This for when one of your co-workers is "mad as hell" and is "not going to take it anymore." In this situation, they’ve blind copied everyone in the free world, plus all Russian hackers and anyone that’s ever chain emailed them, but the header is reserved for the CFO of your organization. In the body of the email, your co-worker explains how, on vacation to Thailand, they once bought a small white porcelain monkey who is somehow able to generate mysterious smoke from its gaping mouth. In fact, they’ve spent many hours observing this strange phenomenon. Your co-worker goes on to say they are certain the entire leadership of the company could be replaced by a porcelain smoking monkey without any kind of deleterious effect, thereby saving upper management salaries, which would drop right to the bottom line. Note: Smoking monkeys are the real reason why companies build firewalls. Perhaps if you’ve just awoken, you should know it's not just the emails that are flying fast and furious; the pace of business in 2014 is accelerating every day, and the best advice I can give you is always: buckle up for safety.


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