Planning a holiday? Don’t forget your out-of-office message

Eva Wiseman

Here are some to copy and paste. How about: ‘I’m ON ANNUAL LEAVE. Ever heard of it? Annual Leave Me Alone Thank You Very Much!’

The holiday season is encroaching on work life like knotweed, and for those of us sitting in offices, it makes itself known not just in our unwelcome introductions to colleagues’ exposed feet, but in the “out of office autoreplies” that spring unbidden into our inboxes. As a combination of cultural malaises converge – including unstable careers and an inescapable internet – holidays become a sort of mindgame we play with ourselves. Even if we plan to stop working, even if we take ourselves away to a beach or a mountain, the reality is that our emails will almost definitely still arrive. And for all our groaning insistence that we long to go tech-free, in idle moments our thumbs will inevitably slide towards that blinking blue envelope, that possibility of interest. So what was once an automated message alerting strangers that we were unlikely to see their email has become something quite different. Something that says far more. Feel free, as summer approaches, to simply copy and paste the following.

I am currently out of the office and will not be checking emails as I will be sleeping. I want to sleep and sleep. I have organised a careful edit of downers and alcohol that should allow me to lie down tonight and not rise for two weeks except once a day for a steak and an apple. By these means I hope to avoid, not only news of the coming apocalypse, but also the incessant noise of opinion, both internal and external. Feel free to text, but I will not read it. No, my phone will be in the hands of Elton, my mother’s aerobics coach, with the strict instruction to wake me only on the occasion of an emergency, which I’ve clarified to mean: death of close family member with nobody else local to organise burial, major plot development in Love Island, or nuclear crisis that can be halted only with a code I don’t realise I contain. So good luck.

Thank you for your message. I am out of the office on annual leave, and won’t be checking emails, or texts, or any of those evil time leeches designed by The Man, and before you ask, no, no, I won’t reply to messages on Twitter or Facebook: I’m ON ANNUAL LEAVE. Ever heard of it? Annual Leave Me Alone Thank You Very Much – does that make it any clearer? Stop PICKING at me. Stop with these relentless pings and buzzes, just… stop. You people. I hate my job.

Sorry you’ve missed me, I’m out of the office, taking a well-earned break from the city grind, enjoying some headspace in the “great British countryside”. I’ve Airbnb’d a… cottage? They called it a cottage. It has a cosy feel, what with the lack of windows, and it’s giving me plenty of opportunities for mindful contemplation. If I go to the top of the hill and lean, carefully, I can pick up a little 3G. Small note, there’s a tiny blinking red light at the corner of the ceiling, and I keep having dreams that somebody is standing over my bed. Which must be a rural thing, something to do with the lovely fresh air. There is a glass in the sink, but it was not there last night. I hope to return in June. For anything urgent, please get in touch with Elaine.

Thank you for your email, but I’m away. I’m not quite myself. There was a me who you emailed, and in your head possibly you even pictured that me as you pressed send, but that me is not here, not any more. I’m not quite myself. Try the switchboard.

I’m out of the office. For queries about selling never-worn baby shoes, please contact Findus. For queries about designing Distracted Boyfriend memes, email Sheila. For skincare advice, including SPF, email Letitia, or to leave tips on natural hayfever remedies, Grinton. For conspiracy theories about Meghan Markle’s patronage, email Lessy Loughton. To join a conversation about the myth of frozen yogurt, Plowis. To vote between custard creams, the two-fingered KitKat, bourbons and Choco Leibniz, it’s Gretchen. To proffer thoughts on the future of Ricky Gervais, email Sue. If you’re a new mother wanting to list all the ways you’ve already ruined your child’s life, contact Etienne. If you want an update on Michael Gove, it’s Graham. I will return on 24 May.

I’m out of the office and on a journey of wanton self-discovery with my new lover, where we hope to explore each others’ sensual and culinary needs in the welcoming surroundings of Center Parcs, Suffolk. Though our activities schedule is fairly chocker (we have an Outing With Owls on Wednesday!), I will be checking emails at 8am and 5pm, post-sex. If it’s an emergency, please call Ivan at reception who, judging by our experience, should be extremely accommodating.

One more thing…

Can I make a plea that the whole world decides to agree on one single Mother’s Day, rather than an American one and an English one and so forth, to avoid social media becoming spammed with endless earnest messages for mums (who, FYI, are not on Instagram)? My scrolling finger is getting so weary.

The New York Times reports: ‘Only 150 people will likely come to your funeral and only 50 will consider you a buddy.’ So I’ve decided I’m not going to bother dying.

At my daughter’s nursery, which I love so much I plan to keep her there until she’s at least 12, they’ve hatched five ducklings. It’s the first time in my life I’ve felt genuinely jealous of three-year-olds.

As the internet was screaming about it, I clicked on ‘Why Your Vagina Gets Dark And How To Lighten It.’ The answer (lemon juice, yoghurt, coconut oil and egg whites) sounds like a delicious pudding.

Source : theguardian