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Sent STUPID email "joke": what now?

Nurses   (1,378 Views 22 Comments)
by Zuzu's Petals Zuzu's Petals, BSN (New Member) New Member Nurse

Zuzu's Petals has 28 years experience as a BSN and works as a RN.

1,189 Visitors; 9 Posts

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First off, here's a quick rule for work emails:   do NOT put any names in the "to" field/leave it entirely blank until you're absolutely positively sure you want to send it, and THEN address it.

I failed on my own general rule with that.  I wrote a long "joke" email to a doc that had been an ongoing issue with us for a bit---a good-natured thing.   It was a "joke taken to its illogical conclusion".  As fun as that was to chat about, I'd been drinking some wine while writing it, so decided it was best to leave that email alone and go to bed.  

HOWEVER, it was in my "drafts" folder.  Long story short, next day I'd been trying to finish up all kinds of things before my vacation started, and THAT STUPID EMAIL ENDED UP GETTING SENT along with the necessary others.  As in, to a  HUGE portion of our dept docs.   Next thing I know, my mgr is texting me with, essentially, "WOW!" comments, and "I've spent my morning apologizing, suggest you do as well, and WHAT is your [damage control plan]?"

(This was my first notification that this stupid joke email WENT OUT.)

I spoke with the doc who was the intended recipient/whom I'd been joking around with (knows it was an ongoing joke/extension but who was horrified that it went out to a bunch of other docs--"I mean, people get FIRED for this kind of thing!") 

I spoke with the medical director of our dept, who made the very salient comments about "you can't control where these electronic things go, or how they'll be viewed or received".  Now I'm slightly living in fear that my "funny" email will end up all over the frigging internet, with my name VERY clearly attached.  (It really wasn't that funny,  very much an inside joke, so I can't say this bit is keeping me up at night.  BUT STILL, what a horrid thought!)

I spoke with the director of our entire area, who understood the whole background/joke of the entire thing (we even had a wee laugh about the background of it) but was also very clear about making sure "any future emails are kept professional".  She told me that she felt it was adequate that I had spoken with the two docs previously mentioned, as well as my own mgr.

I'd asked my mgr to call me when able...that didn't happen.   And now I'm technically on vacation for several weeks. (This all happened during my last day before vacation.)

Honestly, I'm wondering if my manager didn't call because he's working up a "you're fired" case.  I know he has a huge amount of other current big projects going on, but don't know if he's just busying writing things up so that he can properly/legally fire me.  

#1--I'm in a position that is not readily replaced

#2--don't trust corporate drones:  bad Yelp review?  You're gone.

#3--know I was a complete idiot with this "joke" that went over like a lead balloon, AND which was never intended to be sent without further editing

#4--strong union here, but don't think they've anything for me if someone high up decides to fire me (basically unprofessional email).  

While "unprofessional email" really doesn't seem a good reason to fire a nurse, I certainly know it can be deemed so.  Lord knows, anything that garners negative press these days means your employer "MUST" fire you, lest they be seen as agreeing with your actions.

So I'm currently both grateful for AND hating my vacation right now, primarily because I've not spoken with my mgr/didn't return my call, and now he probably "shouldn't" as I'm on vacation.  Feel as though I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Wondering if I should be spending my time off looking for another job, in the event I go back to a corporate firing.

SO:  let this stupidity be a lesson for you, and do NOT do what I did!

ALSO:  any words of wisdom that anyone might care to share?  

-Zuzu's Petals

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not.done.yet has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a Professional Development Specialist.

4 Followers; 43,455 Visitors; 5,301 Posts

No words of wisdom here. Whether or not you get canned for this largely depends on the subject matter, whether any HIPAA laws were broken, harassment laws broken or "conduct unbecoming" scenarios exist. It sounds on the surface like you will be fine, but your absence is unfortunate timing. No time to make things right.

I am glad you learned from it. Let's hope the embarrassment of it is the worst it gets. Good luck!

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nursej22 has 30 years experience as a MSN, RN and works as a royal pain in the tuchus.

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I hope things work out for you. 

In addition to your advice about not filling in the "To" line, I would add never put anything in a email that you wouldn't want the entire world to read. Things get forwarded, caught up in "reply all" chains, and you will be eating your words for a long time. 

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JBMmom has 6 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nurse.

1 Follower; 11,369 Visitors; 673 Posts

I'm sorry this happened to you, clearly you've learned your lesson. I hope there are no serious repercussions related to your employment.

If it makes you feel any better, I have a friend that worked for an international corporation years ago. She had an interesting evening with a star of a local sports team many years ago and recounted the evening in explicit detail to ONE coworker in an e-mail, then accidentally sent TO ALL. Every employee in the company. She wasn't fired, she didn't quit at the time either. For at least 15 years, when she would go to large corporate events people would know that "Sue from Northeast Region" was there. Electronic communication can be a dangerous thing. And even if you only send you one person, you're attached to it forever and others can and will forward things along.

Good luck.

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Alex Egan has 9 years experience and works as a Peds PDN.

6 Articles; 22,806 Visitors; 845 Posts

Ok. Basic damage control principles. (Honest version) 

1. Minimizing. This is not a big deal. It feels like it and even if you get fired. You screwed up, got a lesson, it’s done. What did you learn not what did you do. No one died, nobody got sent to jail, and no property was damaged  

2. Address involved parties not the audience. You already talked to the doctor, the director, manager. When and if this comes back they already know about it. That’s way better then them not having a clue and being blindsided.

3. That’s old news. If anyone brings it up to you who isn’t in charge of you you put it in the past. “That was a mistake and I’m moving past it. Why do you bring that up? I would rather not discuss it.

4. Rumor patrol. Ask friendly coworkers to shut down conversation regarding your gaff if they hear them and keep an eye out for a particular person driving a narrative. Expect a bit of chatter but if one person is stirring the pot you have to nip that immediately

5. Realize you are going to feel this way more then others. Situations of public shame hang in our heads. I realize this is all you can think about but everyone else has their life in their head. They really aren’t thinking or talking about you as much as you think. 

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37 minutes ago, Alex Egan said:

Ok. Basic damage control principles. (Honest version) 

1. Minimizing. This is not a big deal. It feels like it and even if you get fired. You screwed up, got a lesson, it’s done. What did you learn not what did you do. No one died, nobody got sent to jail, and no property was damaged  

2. Address involved parties not the audience. You already talked to the doctor, the director, manager. When and if this comes back they already know about it. That’s way better then them not having a clue and being blindsided.

3. That’s old news. If anyone brings it up to you who isn’t in charge of you you put it in the past. “That was a mistake and I’m moving past it. Why do you bring that up? I would rather not discuss it.

4. Rumor patrol. Ask friendly coworkers to shut down conversation regarding your gaff if they hear them and keep an eye out for a particular person driving a narrative. Expect a bit of chatter but if one person is stirring the pot you have to nip that immediately

5. Realize you are going to feel this way more then others. Situations of public shame hang in our heads. I realize this is all you can think about but everyone else has their life in their head. They really aren’t thinking or talking about you as much as you think. 

I am impressed.  Are you some kind of fixer?

Actually all good advice.

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Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

7 Followers; 2 Articles; 64,161 Visitors; 2,776 Posts

Be careful with texts too. When my daughter was in college she accidentally sent me a text meant for her boyfriend. It was a photo of her gorgeous arse in a sexy pose.

She immediately realized her error and sent me a text apologizing and asking me to delete it. It opened up an important mother/daughter discussion. We also had a laugh about it...

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Snatchedwig has 3 years experience as a CNA, LPN and works as a LTACH Medsurg.

1 Follower; 392 Visitors; 90 Posts

Can you tell us the joke? I needs me a laugh.

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3 hours ago, Snatchedwig said:

Can you tell us the joke? I needs me a laugh.

Yes I just scrolled all the way down here because I want to know what the joke was!  

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Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

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51 minutes ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

Yes I just scrolled all the way down here because I want to know what the joke was!  

Do you really think the OP should compound this mistake by also broadcast it here?🤔

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20 minutes ago, Emergent said:

Do you really think the OP should compound this mistake by also broadcast it here?🤔

I’m not saying it would be a wise idea— I’m just saying I’m bored and curious!

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Snatchedwig has 3 years experience as a CNA, LPN and works as a LTACH Medsurg.

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1 hour ago, Emergent said:

Do you really think the OP should compound this mistake by also broadcast it here?🤔

Yes we think the OP should compound this mistake by posting it here.

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