I sent out an official e-mail this morning to a manager. I’m connected to him through dotted lines. My reporting manager thought that the tone of the e-mail should have been different, to which I agreed. I recalled the e-mail. However, a senior manager who was in CC column had read the e-mail as soon as I had sent it and sought clarification (no, not related to the tone).
Now that I have recalled the e-mail, should I respond to him? If I did so, my recalling becomes invalid. Or should I reply, which will make my revised e-mail invalid?
Is this what you call a catch-22?
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I’ve an instance to explain you what “catch-22” is!
A couple of years back, I was seeking for a freelance copyeditor to freelance-copyedit a few chapters of an urgent assignment for my office (e-pub) in my town. At that time, he was working for another e-pub office in his town. He had accepted to take on the assignment and promised me that he would send the edited chapters within the stipulated time; however, he had not sent them in the stipulated time! The next day, I had called him over his mobile; however, he did neither pick the call nor call me back! I was disappointed! A couple of days after, I had called him over his mobile, during his office hours, and asked him about the status of the assignment. He replied that copyediting of all the chapters is over and he would send the edited chapters in a few minutes. I had requested him to make that happen as quickly as he can, as the delay in sending the files has troubled me severely!
Later, after a few minutes, he had called me over my mobile and told me that he had sent all the edited chapters. I was surprised, because that had happened quicker than what I had expected! Therefore, I had asked him how he had made it so quickly! He replied that he had sent the edited chapters from his office computer! I was shocked; I had believed that he had unknowingly sent the files from his office computer! Most of the offices will track the e-mail communication of most employees; if that would happen to him, he would be in trouble!
This situation is called “catch-22” situation, because that guy was in big trouble; however, there were only a couple of solutions available for him which were there in the problem (I mean, the solutions were there in his office—he might explain the situation to his friends in the “IT/Networking Department” and seek their help or explain the situation to his immediate boss, apologize for the problem, and seek his/hers help)!
“Catch-22” originated as the title of a 1961 novel by Joseph Heller. (Heller had originally planned to title his novel Catch-18, but the publication of Leon Uris’s Mila 18 persuaded him to change the number.) The novel’s catch-22 was as follows: a combat pilot was crazy by definition (he would have to be crazy to fly combat missions) and since army regulations stipulated that insanity was justification for grounding, a pilot could avoid flight duty by simply asking, but if he asked, he was demonstrating his sanity (anyone who wanted to get out of combat must be sane) and had to keep flying. The label “catch-22” soon entered the language as the label for any irrational, circular and impossible situation.
Welcome to Editor’s Essentials, Raghu.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us.