Buzzword-filled subject line easily misinterpreted by unsuspecting manager


A colleague of mine submitted some paperwork regarding the end-date of his college intern. The automated response combined HR buzzwords in an unfortunate way:

Subject: Intern Termination Report was executed

Just to be sure, my colleague stopped by his intern's office. He's still there. And still alive.

For now.

Comments (11)
  1. Executions can take a while – did anyone check with Legal if he was only alive pending appeals?

    The military have a status of 'terminal leave' when your service is up – referring to using up any remaining leave entitlement after you go home but before you leave the payroll, but it does seem to imply some sort of incurable medical problem.

  2. Simon Clarkstone says:

    There is some punctuation missing  ;-)

    "Intern Termination Report: was executed"

  3. Maurits says:

    We're given that the intern was the subject of the termination, rather than the object, so it does not surprise me that he is OK.

  4. j b says:

    In my student days, around 1980, new languages fluorished, and my University contributed significantly to what became ITU's standard programmingh language for phone switches, CHILL. The contribution was a very well designed – but just tooo academic style! – language called Mary, named after the girlfriend of the chief language designer.

    This was before "Hello World!" had been established as The Simplest Program. Rather, the standard presentation of the language usually opened with a small program printing out "Mary has been executed".

  5. Henning Makholm says:

    Several years ago, the product I was working on had a creatively Byzantine start-up process, with several different modules written in various languages successively loading each other. One of these modules was called the "native" (because it was written in C++ and compiled to an .exe containing native code, in contrast to the Java program that it would, in turn, load).

    One step earlier in the chain was another module which tried to start the "native" module after doing various sanity checks. One of these sanity checks was that the "native" in fact existed on disk. If it didn't (which could happen after abotched or interrupted update/uninstall), the end user would be shown a message box reading:

    "Error: Could not find a native to execute!"

    at each login (!) because our product was obviously The World's Most Wonderful Program and therefore would default to adding itself to the Startup group at install.

    Some time later, as I was working on code that would obsolete the native and native-starter as part of a new improved slightly less Byzantine start-up process, I made a special effort to identify a failure mode that could plausibly take over the traditional error message wording. Unfortunately, the higher-ups vetoed that.

  6. Cheong says:

    Why aren't business people learn to avoid ambiguity in business? They can sometimes introduce fatal issues (While this one is definately a "fatal" one).

  7. Martin says:

    In the English language, many words have (too) many meanings. This applies to "termination" and "execute". And it seems to me that such words (and other words too, of course) can be combined to a legal sentence by simply putting them together with some whitespace between them. (Maybe the word legal should be sentenced.) Moreover, it's often impossible to distinguish verbs and nouns.

    I got used becoming confused by such sentences of such words.

  8. Minos says:

    I suppose the manager would be doubly worried if the intern were named "Termination Report".

    My company also has a Termination Report.  The people that run it are affectionately known as Terminators.

  9. …and the workplace diversity report named Minority Report.

  10. Bolt says:

    In our application there are hierarchical commands, so we often speak about executing children, "the child won't be executed if its younger brother is still running" etc.

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