Take This Quiz to Make the Perfect Out-of-Office Message

2 minute read

Like so many morsels of office drudgery, the out-of-office message that one leaves behind while on vacation has acquired its own internal set of stylistic rules. As the New York Times noted last summer, “some cannot resist the opportunity to inject a bit of their personality into their correspondents’ inboxes in absentia.”

In February, John Patrick Pullen offered some utilitarian tips on Motto on how to leave an appropriately polite auto-response—one of which was “don’t be too funny.” With all due deference to our colleagues, what follows is an interactive to generate a less-than-conventional OOO message by answering just three questions. (You can change your answers at any time as you go.)

Sources for poetic responses

  • Jane Austen, Emma. (“Ah! there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”)
  • Kate Chopin: “The Awakening.” (“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, “Paul Robeson.” (“…we are each other’s / harvest: / we are each other’s / business: / we are each other’s / magnitude and bond.”)
  • Herman Melville: “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street.” (“As yet I had never of my personal knowledge known [Bartleby] to be outside of my office.”)
  • R. M. Rilke, “Letters To a Young Poet” (Book Four) (“have patience with everything unresolved in your heart.”)
  • William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet. (“jocund day / Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.”)
  • Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad. (“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”)
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    Write to Chris Wilson at chris.wilson@time.com