Creative Commons License photo credit: *TreMichLan*

When you send an email (and it does not bounce back) you likely have the assumption it got to the intended person. If they never respond, do you begin conjuring stories? “Why did he ignore my request?” … “I hate companies that don’t reply to consumer”… “I guess she does not like me”…

Well there are some dark dead ends of the internet where information goes to never return. Many domains for email addresses have one address that all messages go to if the server cannot find an account- the “catch-all” address. Or it just goes to a trash canned named dev-null.

I monitor one of these accounts for NMC. Maybe every two weeks I sift it to find if there is something that was mis-addressed. Alot of it is spam, but there is a whole pile of dead email letters that are simply mis-addressed. There are organizatioons with domains close to “” – one is a National Midwifery Council and the other is a church, so there is a mishmosh of mis-sent medical/religious emails that go unanswered (we have contacted these organizations several times ti let them know, but they nver responded either).

So I am wondering, casually, what are the stories of this mis-sent messages to the dead letter mail box? What happens because no one responds?

Creative Commons License photo credit: charlie cravero

from: wanda
date: Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 7:42 AM
subject: address change

Hi Freddie,
Per your request, this is being sent so that you will have my correct e-mail address!

Have a great day.

So Freddie never replies, never says thank you. Does Wanda care? She should since Freddie requested something, Wanda provided, and Freddie ignore? Is Freddie important or just a casual contact? What if Freddie is in love with Wanda and now lacks her email address?

from: Beth A.
date: Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 7:13 AM
subject: hey

Hey, I may end up working back in St. Albans come this fall!

Surgical Clinical Office Assistant
Pediatric Surgery & Pediatric Neurosurgery

What happens when Beth shows up to St Albans and runs into JJarvis who obviously was not excited that she was returning? Does she ignore JJarvis? Talk behind his back? What was their connection?

from: becky
date: Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 7:07 AM
subject: budget for sage

Hi Beth,
Hope you are able to be refreshed! May the Spirit wash over you like an ocean wave…. well maybe not that forceful…. a gentle ocean wave…

Looking at C3 budget… I was wondering what amount you would like for the Sages next year?

We are encouraged to make a dream budget….I will need a response by September 16…


And Becky is left to wonder why Beth has not submitted a budget amount. Does the spirit washing sooth this over? Beth is going to miss the deadline and Becky… may just shrug and say. more money for someone else?

from: Human Resources
date: Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 9:56 AM
subject: REMINDER: ALEXIA M H has requested a reference from you

To Brent Shoemaker:
This is a reminder email about a previously sent reference request. This is the last email notification you will receive regarding this request.

ALEXIA M H has applied for a position at Xxxxx County Schools and has listed you as a reference.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our confidential electronic reference form.

The form must be completed by 08/25/2008. Thank you for your assistance.

Brent has been ignoring these requests from HR and today is his deadline to give a reference request for Alexia. Will she get the job without Brent’s help? What if she does? What if she does not? What happens when Brent wants a favor from Alexia?

from: fletcher
date: Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 7:26 PM
subject: Bulletin info

I don’t know which one of you fine brothers is in charge of this, but I noticed that the Wednesday AM coffee group is meeting at “The Friendly Bean Above” – take the “Above” out of the name.

Are people going to miss the coffee group due to the typo in the bulletin? What does Fletcher think that Spencer is not responding to his efforts to improve the information in the bulletin? Will coffee will spilled? Will resentment bubble?

date: Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 6:54 PM
subject: blood test results, please

Hi Tammy,

Last time I was in, there was a blood draw to test the thyroid levels and white blood cell count. Could you please send me the results by email? You can verify it’s really me by phone, 907-xxx-xxxx, or my cell is xxx-xxxx. Thanks a bunch – enjoy your weekend.

Rain Wade

How does Rain feel without her blood test results? Is she going to be less interested in Tammy’s weeked as her requests for personal information are ignored? What are the results of the blood tests?

So keep this in mind next time you email someone and they don’t respond. Maybe they never got it because the message was mis-addressed.

Or maybe they really do hate you guts.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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