Return receipts have always rubbed me the wrong way. If you're not familiar with these minor annoyances, let me 'splain what they are. You get an e-mail. You open it. A dialog box pops open explaining that the sender has requested a return receipt, and asks if you would like to confirm that you received the e-mail. Now, I'm not one to hide behind lost e-mail and voice mail as an excuse for not having completed a task. But I would still like to operate under some veil of mystery when it comes to when I read specific e-mail messages.
When I get one of these things, I feel like the sender is telling me, "Hey, listen, I know we're all busy. I really need you to read this e-mail, though, and I don't want to pester you about it later. And you might claim that you never received it, and therefore take no responsibility for reading it and taking action. So if I ask you to confirm you received it, then you'll know that I know that my little e-mail made it's way into your inbox, and you will be compelled to do something with it."
I'll admit I might be reading too much into return receipt. As much as they annoy me, though, I accept them as an occasional part of the workaday world. Howevah...
Today I received an e-mail, complete with return receipt, from a co-worker about an optional charity event being organized by our office. It was a friendly e-mail, full of "I hope you'll join us" phraseology, emphasizing that this is not a mandatory event. But if it's an optional thing, why did the sender require notification that I received it? Isn't that the sort of tool you'd use with say, a contract? Or health insurance alerts? Now, I'm feeling implicit peer pressure to participate in the charity event. Or sponsor someone who participates. And I get the added bonus of feeling guilty about feeling resentful about helping out a good cause. I mean, what kind of ogre doesn't want to help out a good cause? Or nitpicks the medium through which the good cause is trumpeted?
Yowza. I clearly need to get going for the weekend.