Automatic Reply celebrates the pithy, surprising or otherwise amusing “out-of-office” email messages pinging around workplaces.
In medicine, “diastole” refers to the phase of the heartbeat when the heart muscle relaxes and allows the chambers to fill with blood. Gabriel Bosslet is a pulmonary and critical care physician and assistant dean for the office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development at Indian University School of Medicine. In the out-of-office message he set before going on vacation this summer, the term, “diastole” has a different usage:
“I am not checking email until June 17 because I am in diastole.
When on my annual summer vacations, I generally have an out of office reply that features a silly description of why I am ignoring email. And my ignorance of email this week is happening, so take note.
But this vacation will include the third anniversary of the loss of a good friend to suicide — this loss led to considerable changes in how I manage my time — and most especially how I recharge. A recent short essay in the Journal of the American Medical Association eloquently used the concept of diastole, the process of the heart relaxing to refill, as a metaphor for this important time of life — a time of reflection and active refilling so that I am best able to function for those around me and be refilled by needed time with those I value the most.
So I will answer my email in a fit of systole when I get back. Until then, I will be actively relaxing. (Although, in truth, this is a vacation with my in-laws, so there may be some diastolic dysfunction.)
Those of you who may need me urgently know you have carte blanche to text me.”
Bosslet told Marketplace he wanted his out-of-office message to include a “message of the importance of disconnecting” from work. “That’s been a major thing for me ever since that friend of mine committed suicide,” he said. “[I’m] making sure that I am giving time to those around me that are most important, and not allowing what will on my deathbed be seen as relatively unimportant things to intrude on those times.”
It’s your turn. If you’ve ever received an unusual out-of-office message, tell us about it here:
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