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The M Dash

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How Do You OOO?

August 04, 2016

It’s August, which means your inbox is a sea of auto-replies about “traveling with limited access to email” and “out of the country” and “if urgent, please contact [whomever is not on vacation].” But hopefully, you’ve played your PTO cards right and will be joining these hordes of OOO-ers and their powered-down devices at some point (even if it’s just for one afternoon of blissful shopping). What’s your escape plan? Read on for inspiration.

1. The mic-drop OOO.

Why even bother to write up a handover memo or out-of-office auto-reply? Let those incoming emails swish into the void of your unchecked mailbox and rest there, quiet and unmolested. After all, the office won’t burn down without you. (And if it does, won’t you feel important?) If you’re really relaxed when you come back (if you come back at all, that is), you might just shift, click, and delete the hundreds of backlogged emails without reading them—it’s so nice to start fresh. Anyone with a real emergency will follow up eventually. Right?

2. The not-actually OOO.

Your out-of-office reply assures everyone that you are available via email, cell, and the landline of the place you’re staying. Oh, and text, too! You’ll be checking in regularly (okay, all the time) and calling in for most meetings (okay, all of them). You might be slower to respond than usual, but not really—heaven forbid your colleagues might realize that they’re capable of existing in your absence.

3. The ha-ha OOO.

You’ve read the countless roundups of hilaaarious OOO messages from witty CEOs and irreverent bloggers and clever entrepreneurs and you’ve decided that you want to be funny too! You hope people think yours is original, but you really just copied it from Josh Kopelman.

4. The over-sharing OOO.

You’re unavailable starting at 2:12pm on August 18th, because that’s when your flight to Nicaragua takes off from JFK, but it lands at 9:42pm in Managua and you suspect the airport will have Wifi, so you’ll check in briefly then. If there isn’t Wifi (which might be the case because ugh, airports are just the worst), any emails will have to wait until you reach your hotel (you’re staying at the Rancho Santana, because your friend went for her honeymoon and said it was awesome), probably around 10:30pm, but you’re not sure if Google maps gave you the best route, so it might be a little later. On August 19th, you’ll only be responding between 3:45pm and 4:45pm, because before that you’re planning to surf and after that you’ll be drinking too much to type properly. (If anyone’s tried the jalapeño-infused El Hortaleño tequila cocktail, holler if it’s any good! But not after 4:45pm, obviously.) You’re taking restaurant recommendations, but steering clear of fish tacos because they ruined your last vacation to Mexico (LOL but really they did). By the way, here are links to your Instagram and Facebook feeds, in case anyone wants to see what you’re up to in real time…

5. The wish-you-weren’t OOO.

You’re suffering through an obligatory visit to your in-laws’ lake cottage (more like a shack, if you’re being honest) and would do just about anything to receive a Very Important work email that requires you to drive all the way to the nearest town and hole up at Starbucks, preferably for an entire day so that you can avoid the annual family capture-the-flag game and related mosquito bites. PLEASE. YOU ARE BEGGING.

6. The actual OOO.

You’re on vacation and will deal with everything when you get back. Cheers!

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Charlotte Cowles is a New York-based writer​ ​and editor.​ ​Her work has been published in New York Magazine,​ Harper's Bazaar,​ and Art in America. She'd always rather be at book club. Read more of Charlotte's posts.

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