The TMI Government Lawyer

Today we have a letter from a lawyer at a government agency.  Let's evaluate it using the six criteria for effective Last Day Emails as demonstrated by the Pulitzer winning journalist, Dan Neil.

Six Do's for a Last Day Email

  1. Inclusive opening salvo
  2. Morale boost
  3. Personal story
  4. Common enemy
  5. The happy ending
  6. The triple axel sign off

Ok, now let's read:

From: XXXX
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 7:18 AM
Subject: Bittersweet Farewell

Well, the time has come for me to say goodbye.

Instead of starting his email with the customary salutation, our writer leads boldly into the body of his email with an intimate "Well." How f*cking sexy is that? It's like when you order a drink at a quiet bar, and the bartender unexpectedly leans in all the way until his lips are practically touch your ear, and whispers, "That will be fifteen dollars." This guy's got balls!

LDE SCORE: The writer's non-traditional approach is worth the risk. Starting a last day email with "Well," makes everyone who receives the email feel included in a particularly intimate way. Inclusive Opening Salvo WIN.

I’ve learned so much from working here at XXXX, which, as many of you know, has been pretty much the only place I’ve ever been employed since becoming a real adult. During this time, I have learned a lot about law, but more importantly, about being a mensch.

During my time at XXXX, I got married, purchased my first home, experienced the birth of each of my beautiful three children, was diagnosed with melanoma, beat melanoma, got divorced, found love anew, and remarried.

Through all of the changes, the one constant has been XXXX, and the work ethic, professionalism, and frankly, the plain decency of the people I have worked with. I value all of the friendships and knowledge I have gained. I also value the lessons on leadership that I have learned. Along the way, I’ve had accomplishments, and a few failures too. Thank you for accepting my apologies when I have let you down. Also, thank you for letting me know when I’ve done a good job.

Ok.  You see what happened above, right? He was going for the "personal story," which is a great thing to put in a Last Day Email, but the execution was fatally flawed. In short, the guy talked about himself way, way, WAY too much.

In general, here are the things that no one except your mama cares about:

  • When you purchased your first home.
  • That you consider your children beautiful.
  • That you had a bad go at marriage #1.
  • Dermatological issues.

In addition to a severe case of TMI, this lawyer also has a major case of mentioning the obvious. Oh, really, you value friendships and knowledge? Wait, what? You have had accomplishments?? And you've also made mistakes?? Get out of here, you're pulling my chain!

Jesus H. Christ.

Dear Last Day Email writers: Your emails are often the only form of excitement that we receive in our inboxes on a Friday afternoon. If you really want to thank us for being "like a family," please write something that doesn't make our eyes glaze over by the second paragraph.

LDE SCORE: Personal Story FAIL.

As I head off on my next adventure, I wanted to share with you what XXXX said to me when I was first interviewed by XXXX. “XXXX,” he said, “if you come to work for us, we’ll offer you a life of unending entertainment.” He was right. No day has ever been the same here as the day before. I have found the work challenging, and the friendships fundamental to what makes XXXX so special. As the XXXX enters its XXXXth year, I’m glad to say that I was part of that history.

What in the hell damnation are you blathering about now? This paragraph is barely sticking together. So some dude told you that working here would be "unending entertainment." Hate to break it to you, but if someone took you aside and told you that when you were interviewing for the job, that person is trying to WARN YOU to stay the f*ck away, dumb-ass!! And now through your thickheadedness, you've outted this individual to the whole firm! Who knows what fate will befall this altruistic messenger now!

LDE SCORE: I get it, it's a morale boost. You're saying all sorts of random positive sh*t about your workplace, and alluding to its historical importance. But you sorta messed up there with your choice quote. And the myriad accolades you pile upon your workplace are too unfocussed, giving your overall message the cohesiveness of a hotdog bun caught in the rain. Morale Boost FAIL.

I know we will all meet again.

After all, I’ll be just a few blocks up the street.

My new email is XXXX; please keep in touch.

What fresh hell is this? After an effusive Last Day Email overflowing with praise, our writer ends everything abruptly with what sounds like the stilted English of a Russian spy who can't resist a good ominous good-bye.

First I was confused and frightened --what did he mean by "you know we will all meet again?" Why is he so certain? Is he talking about... the after life? Creepy. Then, I realized it was just a roundabout way of telling us that his new office would be close-by.

Now think boys and girls, why would a person disclose their workplace location, but not the name of the place?


When is the last time you read a last day email email that goes into dermatological detail but skips out on basic facts such as the writer's new workplace?


Ok, I'll tell you. It's the same reason that people like to tell you that they went to school in Cambridge or New Haven. Because it's a thinly veiled boast of their incredibly elite status! Similarly, I will bet you five strips of bacon that everyone knows where our writer is going, that it is considered a better place by many, and that he is pretty smug about it.

LDE SCORE: This good-bye does not read well on any level. It's choppy, confusing, purposely vague, and a little bit scary. Triple Axel Sign Off FAIL.

+1 for Inclusive Opening Salvo, -3 for Personal Story, Moral Boost, and Triple Axel Sign Off = An overall LDE SCORE of -2.

1 comment:

growing ideas said...

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