Yesterday we received an email of the kind that particularly gets my ire up. It was from the Command Sergeant Major and did mention a valid point, however, it was sent to everyone, civilian and military, that works for the Transatlantic Afghanistan District of the Corps of Engineers. The subject matter was simultaneously generic and specific. Generic because it can be applied to any of the numerous facilities large or small that the 400+ civilian and unknown number of military personnel are living. Specific because it appears to be sent after an incident of some magnitude at the Engineer Village in Kabul where the leadership reside. It has the rhetorical stylings of a thought out approach, complimenting everyone before mentioning the incident in vague terms so as to not call out someone or some group in particular, followed by a request to be grown-ups and not respond in such a manner that would cause others to lose their self-discipline and degenerate into a den of petty actions. Not living in the Engineer Village I really don't know what happened. I am the kind of person who would respect the signs designating a difference between male and female facilities and wouldn't spitefully damage one because it was better than the other. This is what appears was the genesis of the email was.
Fast forward a few hours. Someone else sent an email that said, "To tag along with the CSM's message. . ." and proceeded to tell everyone that we need to leave the lights on in the hallways at night. This is one of the things I think is wrong with any large organization: the ability to mass email everyone.
Now, everyone gets email. If everyone opens the email, reads it, then hits delete, it takes a matter of a few seconds. Maybe 15 tops. However, this second email makes you think back to the first. Some will have not seen the first yet and wonder what was going on, maybe even read it twice. When they read the first email they will have an aha moment and take another 5-10 seconds to connect everything. At a minimum, everyone will spend 20-40 seconds on this email.
But that's not all. Some will dwell on it. Some will talk at the water cooler. "What happened in Kabul?" "Who do you think did it?" "Why did we all get this email?" Yes, there are very few who will take the effort that I have on it, but that's not the point. I believe that a conservative estimate is an average of 90 seconds per person. I have had no fewer than a dozen conversations that referenced the email that were started by someone else (I'm not counting the times I've mentioned it) so I have support for this number.
Counting just the civilians there are 403 people who got this email. There are more civilians not on the final list and I have no idea of the number of military people involved with the district so this number is conservative, too. With 400 people spending 90 seconds, this email has wasted 10 hours of the Army's time. Our scheduled days are 10 hours long 6 days a week with a 4 hour "weekend" on Friday. So this guy wasted an entire day with his email. This guy is a mid to lower lever GS employee, with an estimated 6 days left in the country (did I mention I've spent some extra time researching this?). So he has wasted an entire day to keep from stubbing his toe on his way to the toilet in the middle of the night on his last five nights in country.
Of course, I've blown it out of proportion. What I suspect really happened is that Baxter stumbled into the lady's room because the lights were off and forgot to raise the seat.