Is it just me, or are auto replies the most irritating thing on the planet? You know how it is - you need someone to do you an urgent favour, you take an hour out from your already hectic day to compose this mail to him / her with the wording just right, you click on send, two minutes later there's a mail from them in your inbox, you hold your breath, cross your fingers, you're wondering if it's going to be yes or no. And then it turns out that it's neither! It's not even from them! It's just some stupid computer somewhere sending you this smug message informing you that while your career is going up in smoke the person you mailed for help is trekking the steppes outside Vladivostok, but it's okay, because if you really need help (and weren't simply sending out messages for the joy of typing them) you can always contact the High Lord Flabberguts of the Kingdom of Elbonia, who may just be able to help you.
Or even worse, you'll be the one who gets this urgent cry for help from someone and being the nice, conscientious person you are you'll send them a prompt reply, and instead of a simple 'thank you' you'll get a mail saying they're on a short space shuttle trip to the outer moons of Jupiter but should be back sometime in the next 20 years. And this is the same person who just sent you a mail asking for your help!
Personally, I think it's all a way of rubbing your nose in it - underneath that thin veneer of courtesy is the sadistic heart of a person who wants to make it extra clear to you that while he's in Aruba having suntan lotion rubbed into his back by a couple of beauties wearing nothing but coconuts, you're sitting in your crummy cubicle with nothing better to do than send him e-mails. So much for caring.
Anyway, here are the top 10 auto-reply messages I'd like to see
1. "I will be out of my mind starting from 6:00 pm on Friday July 15th until 9:00 am on Tuesday July 19th, pretending to be temporarily insane so as to get away with killing my wife. In case of an emergency, please feel free to contact my lawyer at email@example.com - he can give you details of my visiting hours in prison."
2. "I'm afraid you're not hot enough for me to send a personal reply to your mails. For urgent assistance, please contact Melissa Scissors at firstname.lastname@example.org - she's really good at makeovers."
3. "I'm not really out, but I set up this auto-reply right after I sent my last message to you, so that my system would automatically send an auto-reply to your auto-reply. For assistance in dealing with the 105,632 new e-mail messages now in your inbox, call IT Support."
4. "I wasn't going to reply to your crummy e-mails anyway, so I thought I would set up an auto-reply to make you feel better. I figure if you needed urgent assistance, you wouldn't be e-mailing me in the first place."
5. "I will be in a meeting from 9:00 am today to what should be 11:00 am, but will probably be more like 5:00 pm given the way my boss blathers on. If you really need assistance, I suggest you find someone else because I'm going to be in one hell of a bad mood when I get back."
6. "I'm going to be out of Kansas from Sunday, August 2nd to Tuesday, August 11th. If you require urgent assistance, just double click on your ruby red mouse and tell yourself there's no place like home. Dorothy."
7. "I'm going to be looking away from my computer screen for two seconds between 10:31 hrs and 10:32 hours on Monday, July 18th. If you feel whatever's troubling you can't wait that long, I suggest you see a shrink."
8. "You will be in a hypnotic trance from the time you read this message to the next time you double click your mouse. When you awake from your trance, you shall proceed to refer to your boss as "that blithering idiot" in third person, while addressing him as "hey! Turd" to his face. You shall continue to do so until you receive a message from me with the Subject line: The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Should you require urgent assistance in the meantime, you may take of all your clothes and dance the macarena while perched on the water cooler"
9. "I'm getting married on the 8th of March and will not be checking e-mail from then to the 22nd. The marriage wasn't really my idea, but the b**** got herself pregnant and then her old man showed up with a shotgun so I had no option. We're honeymooning in the Dominican Republic because apparently it's the best place to buy pink lace. My wife plans to do a lot of shopping. I plan to get laid on the side. You think you need urgent assistance? I'm having to move to the suburbs and pick out china patterns"
10. "I will be dead from the 4th of February to some indefinite time, and may therefore not be able to check e-mail regularly. If you need urgent assistance, try praying."