RSVP

“Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a good thing to say.” – Will Durant

“Before you say anything, count to 10 and then don’t say it.” – My mother

One of our important customers made a request that I considered a non-starter. As it happened, this request turned into a saga with a most inauspicious start and an uncertain end.

Duncan L., their VP responsible for purchasing and logistics, has worked with the Small Office for many years and has known me for at least half of them. Our relationship is cordial, stopping at the level of mutual respect.

Duncan looks a bit like Clark Gable would have looked if he were less good looking. He is humorous in the deadpan way of Steven Wright and would be as funny if Steven Wright were actually less funny. In short, he has a lot going for him if your expectations were slightly reduced.

I received an email from Cowboy Bob who was forwarding a query from Duncan. Apparently, one of his company’s competitors had a promotional special that month and Duncan was looking for support to match the promotion. But specials are built into each customer’s purchasing agreement and there was a lot of room in the deal Duncan had to work with to easily match this promotion if he so desired. Which he shouldn’t because the special wasn’t interesting enough to be impactful anyway.

My organs… began to shut down.

I was having a tough day and was in no mood for the verbal sparring that I could imagine Cowboy Bob had to endure in what is always a back and forth when Duncan is on the case. I decided to get right to the point and typed a curt NFW. Which, of course, merely stood for Not Financially Workable. Or, equally, No Funds Warranted. Or, perhaps, Newcastle Fashion Week… which is surely on the top of someone’s social calendar. I then clicked the SEND button, satisfied with the content and brevity of the response.

In the very instant my finger touched the SEND key I realized, to my horror, that I did not just REPLY but that I replied TO ALL. Duncan and all his colleagues who he had copied would have received it too. My heart stopped beating. I felt dizzy as the blood drained from my head. My organs – starting with the liver – began to shut down. My thoughts then went to Poor Cowboy Bob who, I could imagine, was now quaking right down to his Limited Edition Cognac Caiman boots.

Now you don’t need a Nobelpreise Fuer Wirtschaftswiss to figure out how Duncan responded when he received my reply. Apparently it was circulated widely, then printed out and posted on the bulletin board in the company’s main conference room. I was told it was now being used as a dartboard.

The first rule of holes is that when you are in one, you stop digging. I decided the best approach was to lay low in the firm belief that this too shall pass. I went dark. And just like that, I had No Further Worries.

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