Nearly 10 years ago, I started receiving emails from an unknown family of Dorans (my last name). The emails typically consisted of tired religious jokes of the “Two Coffees in Heaven” variety. Harmless things, really: the sort of emails that are tolerated with modest annoyance when they come from your own relatives. But when such emails come from strangers… and when those strangers don’t understand the difference between Reply and Reply All…
I couldn’t hit the delete key fast enough.
After a respectable length of time, and after receiving several more misdirected emails (among them “The Biker and the Bridge” and video called “Turkey Rap”), I finally felt compelled to reach out to the Doran family to let them know of their error. This happened after receiving a birthday e-card from the family patriarch wishing his daughter (also named Caitlin Doran) a happy birthday.
I hit “reply“ (not reply all) and wrote a politely worded email to the sender letting them know of their error and asking them to take me off the family mailing list.
Nothing happened for a little while. Then I received another email:
Subject Line: “Ya Gotta Love Jan.”
My message had not gotten through.
So I sent another politely worded email. Then, after a while, I sent a not-so-politely worded email. That one got a response. Sadly, I no longer have a copy of that email, but if I recall correctly, the upshot of their response was “Why don’t you just block our emails?”
Missing the point, weren’t they?
After that, I gave up. There was no point in asking them to remedy their email list. Instead, I set up a few email filters. These helped a little bit, but oftentimes emails still snuck through anyway.
Every few weeks a new email would arrive from this unknown Doran clan. And usually I hit delete. Of the few that survive in my inbox, some include:
Test: How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Hint: you have to take the giraffe out first.
Easy and Low Calorie Slow Cooker Recipes – Forwarded with a sweet note from the family patriarch “ I thought you would be interested in this article. Always thinking of you sweet heart. DAD”
Aww that’s sweet. It would be even sweeter if Dad bothered to remember his daughter’s real email address.
Following that I received some more concerning emails:
An email about repayment of nursing school loans, forwarded from “Dad” to his daughter:
Caitlin, Here`s some info I was looking into for your students loans, Maybe it`s something you should check out. Much love an Happy Birthday Always dad.
Oh geez, I hope she didn’t need that. I hope that wasn’t his only birthday message. Tied to something about student loans. How depressing.
A Travel Reservation email, with a forwarded message from “Dadner”: In the future pls schedule non stop from point A to point B.. Less chance of problems with take off an landing an take off again. This is something I learned from 911… Be safe ,Have fun & learn alot . lv you very very much Dadner
With the information in that email I could have tracked the other Caitlin down at JFK before she boarded her flight to Atlanta. I resisted the temptation.
For Christians Everywhere: A tirade about the National Day of Prayer and how horrible it was that Obama had prayed with Muslims. Infidels!
I was starting to form a disturbing picture of this family. And I began to wonder how my Caitlin-counterpart felt about all of this. Does she enjoy rapping turkeys and paranoid anti-Muslim screeds? Or does she hunker down at her nursing job, working hard to pay off her student loans, quietly hitting delete when her Dad sends something embarrassing?
Through all of this, I thought I was the lone victim of this Doran family’s accidental email largess. I was resigned. Then, last Saturday, I received a delightful surprise in my inbox:
Email from Susan Doran. April 12, 2014:
To my undoubtedly distant cousin DORANS — please take me off your email lists. I am not the Susan Doran you think I am –not that I am leading a double life or something: I literally am NOT your family member. I live in San Francisco, and don’t know any all yall and don’t want to receive your jokes anyone…n’est ce pas. See, that proves I am not a Susan Doran you know….YOUR Susan Doran would never be as pretentious as the throw a French phrase into an email. Seriously, tho—wrong SD. And if the “real” (tho you-all) Susan Doran is this firstname.lastname@example.org please pipe up and tell your fam to cease and desist sending emails to the American with the USA in the middle of her name (sUSAn).
thank you all — and, um, Éirinn go brách, etc
ps – “your” Susan Doran also is not email@example.com or @yahoo or even @aol — them’s also all me.
Hah! This is awesome! And clearly sent by somebody who has been put-upon for a while. Gloriously sarcastic. I’m not alone. Oh Joy!
But wait, there was more. A reply all from the Dorans:
Email from Sue Doran. April 12, 2014:
I realize finding oneself on the receiving end of an email list on which one neither belongs nor enjoys, might be slightly irritating, especially if you don’t have a life and subsequently spend all your time checking your email. That said, I am certain we will do our best to fix the email address typo that erroneously included you on the list. We apologize for any inconvenience this unintentional typo may have caused you. Nonetheless, I must say, given the sarcastic tone of your email, one might think you were suggesting we are simpletons. This mistake on your part, is representative of the chauvinistic arrogance insecure people often rely on to cope. Although your intentional sarcasm was meant to insult and cannot be interpreted as a typo, it is best to say, c’est la vie, when one encounters such pretentiousness as yours. I leave you with another Gaelic phrase which I send in all earnestness,
Pog Mo Thoin!
For the record, “Pog Mo Thoin” is Gaelic for “Kiss My Ass.”
Oh enraged, violated dignity. Squee!
And then a few minutes later, there was more. Someone new was wading into the fray:
Email from Mike Doran, April 12, 2014:
My name is Mike Doran and I too am not part of your family (to my knowledge, anyway.)
I have asked multiple times to be removed from this list, but maybe this attempt will do the trick.
Sorry, but I don’t have any fancy phrases to conclude my email with.
Have a good day,
I couldn’t not pile on at this point. I’m not, like, St. Patrick, or something.
I hit “Reply all.”
Email from Caitlin Doran, April 12, 2014:
I’m not the Caitlin Doran they think I am either. I’ve been trying to get off this list for more than five years. Not sure how long. I try to set up email filters, but these emails tend to sneak through anyway. I don’t want to set anything up that’s so strict it filters out emails from real family.
Please. After all this time and numerous emails from me and from others (apparently), can you please edit your family distribution list? I don’t want to be nasty about it, but it really is inconsiderate for you to ignore our requests.
I gave up asking a couple of years ago and just started hitting delete. But there must be some other Caitlin out there who’s not getting these emails
Caitlin (the other one)
I suspected that might have been the end of it, but I heard back from Mike almost immediately. He was kind enough not to hit Reply All. I would have had no such compunction.
Email from Mike Doran
Ahahaha knowing that I’m not alone with this crap made my day. =) You’re not from the SF area too, are you? That would be epic.
Have a good one
No, dear Mike Doran, I am not from San Francisco. I am from Minnesota. More’s the pity. If I were from SF we could meet up at a local pub and trade email war stories while downing pints of Guinness and shouting “Éirinn go brách, Et cetera” the rallying cry of wronged Doran souls everywhere.
After three emails from three different wronged Dorans, I am hoping this errant Doran family will finally be motivated to edit its family email list.
I hope for this fervently. And yet, another part of me is yearning for another hit of Doran wackiness. I’ve gotten to know this family over the last decade. I’d like to find out how my opposite number is doing, and if she ever wonders why her father never sends her birthday cards.