I’ve been operating on the apparently misguided assumption that Microsoft Outlook was the standard issue email client for federal offices everywhere since the dawn of time… or at least the last 15 years, whichever came first. At least that was my assumption until I overheard this conversation this morning…

Supervisor: Your inbox filled up over the weekend. Make sure you clean it out and move large files to your archive folders so they’re not taking up space on the email server.

Employee: It’s not my fault my inbox fills up. If people didn’t wait till the last minute to send stuff in, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Supervisor: But if you move those big files out of your inbox *pointing at the screen* we can solve the problem.

Employee: But I need those files.

Supervisor: I know, but they’ll be saved in your personal files so you can still get to them.

Employee: Well, I asked to go to that Outlook class but didn’t get in. This isn’t like the old Outlook so I need training and it’s hard to get into those classes. They’re always full. I don’t know why people can’t just spread out when they send stuff in…


Is Outlook really so hard to use that 60 people a month are signed up for training on how to schedule meetings and set up personal folders? I’ve been using Outlook since I got my first “real” job in the summer of 2000… Not like this is exactly a new piece of software we’re dealing with here. Sure, it’s been updated a touch now and then, but it’s still the same old Outlook that it has always been.

I guess the real question in my mind isn’t so much why that many people are signed up for training as it is how someone gets to be a 40-something year old career bureaucrat without knowing how to use email?


Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

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