“Hey Bob, check out mailing list X from yesterday.”

As many of you have figured out I work at a University. There’s a mailing list with a lot of IT folks on it from around campus, intended for discussions and peer-to-peer assistance. Signal to noise isn’t terribly high on the list so I filter it to a mailbox. I would unsubscribe except for the occasional gem that filters through, pointed out by my coworkers.

“What, did you want me to see the message that just has ‘help’ in the body? That is a little odd, I agree,” I replied. How did he get that through? Damned if the list manager doesn’t filter out half of my messages with words like “error” in the subject. Try being a tech on a mailing list and not being able to put “error” anywhere in the subject line…

“Yeah, that’s part of it, Joe’s ‘help’ message. But did you see the one where the other Ed asked if anybody knew if Joe was okay?”

“Like 17 hours after the original message. Glad I’m not in distress. Wasn’t Joe just trying to get help docs from the list manager software?”

“Yeah, to unsubscribe or something. Here’s the thing, though: Ed, thinking he needed help, called 911 and the police went to find Joe.”


“Yeah, apparently Ed called Joe’s desk phone, Joe didn’t answer, so he assumed the worst and called the police.”

“Did they find him?”

“Of course. He wasn’t dead or anything, was just out of his office working on stuff. He was fine.”

“See, this is exactly why I will never be a cop.”

3 thoughts on “Help”

  1. wow, that’s an awesome story. I’m glad Joe was OK, but wow. I don’t know if I would send out an email to a moderated newslist if I needed immediate medical attention, but I guess if that’s all you’ve got, you go with it.

    …The Holy Grail can be found at the castle AARRRRGGGGGHHH….

  2. Matt, he didn’t need actual help, he was trying to find out how to unsubscribe from the list manager software. I changed the wording a little bit to make that more clear. Sorry!

  3. Ha!

    My personal voicemail message says something to the effect of “Sorry I can’t answer the phone. I’m currently trapped under a heavy object. Please leave a message and I’ll call you back as soon as I’m free.”

    Usually, people are laughing at the beginning of my voicemails. But once someone left a distraught message saying she was going to call the police and get help. Fortunately, I was able to call her back right away and explain that changing my voicemail and waiting for someone to call is a ridiculous way to get emergency assistance (and hence the joke).

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