Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free-form emails

I used to just be able to call our work caretakers to come and move furniture, transport boxes, arrange rooms and do all the manual labour that I'm quite capable of, but don't want to because it's manual labour and someone else can do it.
Then they stopped us from just ringing them up, because apparently it got a little confusing. We had to start sending them emails.
This is my first one:

Dear Caretakers, 

Could you please deliver 2 boxes of handbooks from the [redacted] front office to SSS Rm 340 (the faculty office). 

Kind regards, 

Ps. This email just isn’t the same …

Then I decided that it was time to get creative: 

Hello Supermen and Superwomen of Campus Services, 

There is a flickering fluoro tube in the [redacted]. Could someone replace it with their super strength and x-ray light-replacing vision, please? 

Kind regards, 

I settled into that routine for a while, leaving out the fancy stuff, but attempting to woo them with flattering names:

Hello Campus Heroes, 
Dear Kings and Queens of Flinders Hill, 
Dear Mighty Flinders Rangers, 
Dear Takers of Care, 
O Mighty Knights of North Ridge, 

And so on.

However, on a slightly slow day, I think I finally tipped over into playful insanity:

Hail, ye Shamans of Mount Flinders! 

Verily, I have some large boxes full of bags, some signs and a printer which require spiriting away from the store room in the [redacted]. (Our guild down here is now called [redacted] for ye further information.) All items for removal have been marked ‘Move to Room 107’. 
Although the filing cabinets have been marked for removal, yay, do not move them or great spirits shall be released! Plus they need to emptied and their contents archived. 

May the Demons of Hrothgar smite thine enemies, 

After that, suddenly cheerful, muscular men in blue overalls pushing sack-trucks were popping up and telling me how much they enjoyed my emails. I had been under the impression that the email went to one person, who would call the relevant muscular man with a trolley and tell him what to do. 
They go to everyone involved in any kind of 'service' activity. Everyone.
I've got an audience now. The pressure's on. What next?

O yay o yay 
This morn’ cracked a rainy day 
With 16 boxes to carry away 
Full o’ books for North 1, without delay, 
On this finest, wettest, windiest firstling of May 

Where the boxes are located, 
In Chamber 110 they are situated, 
And shan’t be saturated, 
The students shall be placated 
By their books o’erflooding with fresh knowledge and the promise of a drier day. 

'How's the old English study coming along?' asks a muscular man in blue. 'I got a real kick out of that last one.'
It's a truism I just made up that most writers figure out, but never really master, that the more you fiddle with the font of what you're writing, the less you have to write. So I go:

Starship North Ridge - COME IN, Starship North Ridge! This is Galactic Hopper [redacted], Planet [redacted], Quadrant Level 1, requesting transfer of valuable academic cargo from Holding Bay Room 110 via Caretaker Hyperdrive to the distant reaches of North 1. There are 11 boxes of handbooks and all have received appropriate quarantine clearance. If North 1 is still occupied by the armies of Space Students, then they can be left in orbit in the foyer, same as yesterday. 

Then, it happens. I need something urgently and I don't have time to come up with anything amusing. I can feel the collective disappointment before it even begins.

Recycling is full. 
Level one needs a new bin. 
Life begins anew. 

And, just as quietly as the poem left the screen. So too did the bin in question. The feedback was minimal. I'm actually disappointed that I went with a whimper. 
In my last email, I resolved to rectify this and salvage whatever reputation I might still have left as 'that weirdo who send the weird emails'

And they’re off and racing! 
Printing is delivering 7 boxes of books past Room 110 before 3pm, The Caretakers of Camelot are coming up the inside to pick up the lead, dragging The Dodgy Handtruck in second place, Boxes of Books are looking for a swift finish as they come around the bend, North One is in sight, but The Caretakers of Camelot are looking strong, Foundation Studies students are milling about in the background, but a late run is all but impossible, as they close into the finish it’s Caretakers, North One, Boxes of Books neck and neck there’s nothing in it, Boxes of Books pushes, Caretakers stretches and its Caretakers! Caretakers has taken the Boxes of Books over North One and Dodgy Handtruck comes limping in followed by Foundation Studies Students and that rabbit thing they use for the doggies on Tuesday nights ….

Somehow, those campus heroes interpreted that and did whatever it was.
They're a top bunch over there. But I try to move a lot of my own books these days.

Nb. While everyone mostly knows where I work, I redacted the most identifying information, even if just to make the stalkers work a bit harder.


  1. Service Request [redacted] logged: Unicorn on the loose
    Thank you for contacting the Property Services. Your request “Unicorn on the loose” for site [redacted] and building [redacted] has been logged with reference number [censored].
    Please quote this number in all communications with us about your request.

    "A unicorn somehow got into building 104 overnight and caused a mess. We managed to chase it out of the building but now there are rainbows and glitter everywhere."

    Guess what day of the year it was when I sent that one.

  2. Love it!

    I used to preface my all-too-regular ones to the IT Help Desk with, "I know I'm as annoying as a mossie at 3am but I really need your help...."

    Yours, however, are in a league of their own and you MUST continue. Forget what you're paid for; keep your standards up!

  3. Dan - Gay People Are Awesome Day?

    Kath - I also send titter-worthy emails to the helpdesk email. Every now and then the robot writes back approvingly.

  4. Awesome, love em!
    I want to read more!
    If only more emails were that entertaining.
    Our request submission form is so dull, it would stifle any creativity or manners I might have. Besides which, as I have found out, our property service coordinator has no sense of humour.


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32