How a complete stranger read my email

Woman - Oops!

Have you ever heard the Steven Wright comedy bit that goes something like this:

I moved into a house that had one of those light switches that didn’t appear to do anything. Every once in a while I would walk by it and flip the switch on and off. 6 months after moving in, I got a letter from a guy in China saying “Cut it out.”

I had a very similar moment earlier this week.

When Reply to All goes bad

An email was distributed to my entire family with a typo in my sister’s email address. In some circumstances this isn’t a big deal but it is when the email address in question is a Gmail address.

You see there are a zillion combinations of Gmail user names already in use. So odds are if you make a typo in someone’s Gmail address, it won’t bounce back to you as undeliverable. Rather, it will just get delivered to the person who owns the email address as you typed it.

So in the case of the email I referred to above, some complete stranger got an email that was meant for my family only. And to make matters worse, the email had content asking each of us to reply so as each member of my family hit “Reply to All”, the stranger got yet another email.

Can’t stop the email train

And I challenge you to try to stop this train once it leaves the station. Being a techie, I immediately noticed the typo and replied to all with notification that my sister’s email address was incorrect. But before I sent the email, I corrected my sister’s address as to not perpetuate the problem.

It didn’t matter. People still replied all to the original email and not my reply and each time, some stranger got another email and another update on my family.

I’m still waiting for an email from a guy in China saying “Cut it out.”

If you enjoy dry humor and want some more of Steven Wright, check out this vintage video of Steven Wright on YouTube.