at least you didn't order six million cases of eggs
June 19, 2021 8:05 PM   Subscribe

Dear Intern is trending on Twitter after HBO Max put out this statement claiming that yes, it was the intern who accidentally sent this integration test email to... seemingly everyone on the internet, judging by the reaction.

Twitter users rallied to support the unnamed intern by sharing their own stories of times they messed up on the job; some highlights include the post namer, this conscientious period-haver, this creative puppet fan, this accidental minigame designer, this lawyer's redefinition of "legal briefs," and this person's good advice about hats.
posted by taquito sunrise (44 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I got the email. Proof that I'm someone!

I made a similar joke about it to my S.O., but I didn't think it really was an intern. (Seemed more beleaguered employee style TBH) Kudos to HBO (and the internet) for being so cool about it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:21 PM on June 19


It's good to remember - we all make mistakes!
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:26 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


When I was an intern my boss did this...and blamed it on "an intern".
posted by Toddles at 8:46 PM on June 19 [30 favorites]


I got the email and totally forgot about it until the apology trended. If they’d immediately followed it up with a “Whoops!” and an ad, everyone would have blanked the whole thing out. This seems to happen at least once a week with one of the many, many nonprofits, PACs, and companies I can’t avoid hearing from.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:55 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Monica Lewinsky's is both sweet and self-aware.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:21 PM on June 19 [37 favorites]


It’s the Cat Pajama-Jam all over again!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:33 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


I was once assigned the task of testing (as in QA) a new version of a software product for schools. The test database was supposed to be filled with one school's real data, but with the email addresses purged and/or sending disabled. The development team failed to do that last bit.

Fortunately, while I was testing the complaints and notification section, I only said that little Billy touched Susie's kitty. That's not what the first draft said, but something told me a minor edit was a good idea just in case.

The development team didn't make that mistake again, as far as I'm aware.
posted by krisjohn at 9:35 PM on June 19 [11 favorites]


So, was not an intern. In fact, was the co-founder of our web development company. We were making a presentation to the web team at a Government department on the merits of building an Intranet for them. I was putting together a slide presentation and needed a photo that would convey "collaboration". It was late at night, the night before our morning presentation, and I searched on Flickr Creative Commons. I found one that was a whiteboard with a lot of scribbles and lines on it - to my mind, conveying a sense of collaboration and brainstorming. Done. Slides all ready.

The next day I merrily went through the presentation. Came to this slide, said my piece, moved onto the next one and finished the presentation. Had a brief discussion after the slides with the client and left, happy and thinking "that went well!"

It was late at night when I found that photo for the slide. I was only viewing it on my small laptop. I was in a hurry. The photo did indeed contain a "lot of scribbles and lines". In amongst those it also contained drawings of, well, cocks, breasts, cocks shooting spunk over said breasts - you get the picture.

In my presentation, this slide was showing on a large screen for the audience. I was viewing it on my laptop, but mostly looking at the clients as I talked to the slides. I did not notice what was contained within the scribble and lines. At all. To their credit (I guess??) the clients said nothing.

When we got back to the office, my co-worker who was there, mentioned that perhaps I might like to apologise. I had to ask why. And then look at the slide. And then die.

I think we may have still got the job.
posted by maupuia at 11:14 PM on June 19 [41 favorites]


Oh I was featured on PSDisasters because during the course of the busy Halloween season, on our home page hero image, had super imposed a girl in a witch costume holding a broomstick next to/in front of a boy in a gi joe costume and the picture cut off just below the waste, so it looked like the girl was giving him a handy.

When our SEO guy, who sat in the cube across from me, saw an unusual spike in traffic and the why, and turned to me to see my face turn bright red as his message with the link hit my computer.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:39 AM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Worked as one of a handful of IT staff in a financial spread betting startup aged 24. FSB means betting on the price of shares/indices/futures/commodities going up and down, or alternatively, a highly efficient way for retail investors to lose the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time. I told the accountant sitting opposite me that I'd found a post calling us "a shower of cowboys" and his response was "Yee-haw".

I was told to implement a switchover to paperless monthly statements about a day before they were supposed to be sent out. Ran on our test machine and it all worked. But production was running a different version of the mail library. The first statement went to the first client, the second to the first and second clients, the third... well you get the idea. Client #40 called us to ask why they had itemised trades and balances for 39 other clients, and we killed the job, but by then the damage was done.

It made the front page of The Irish Times the next day, and was the lead article in the business section. My boss backed me 100% and we got more resources for testing after that.
posted by kersplunk at 2:35 AM on June 20 [8 favorites]


Also, the CEO of that company told me that when he was a young trader, he forgot to close out a commodities position before the end of the quarter, and ended up having to figure out what to do with several hundred tonnes of bananas.
posted by kersplunk at 2:43 AM on June 20 [19 favorites]


I was a young temp at the largest rental company in Queens, NY, back when most things were still done by hand. I was trained (poorly) to send monthly invoices to tenants, then seated at the back of a vast open roomful of middle-aged women at desks (and one 20-something in designer jeans), none of whom ever spoke to me again.

When I say I was trained poorly … I think I was given a data sheet that included the previous month’s (i.e., paid) rent, so I sent everyone a bill for two months’ rent. I remember the phones ringing a lot in that room, and occasionally some gravel-voiced woman yelling, “Why are all of these people being double billed?!”

After about a month the error was traced to me. I was retrained, and then probably fired. (I don’t even remember.)
posted by anshuman at 5:23 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


This sort of reminds of something that happened at a prior workplace. The email system had an email group called "staff", that included everybody, some 50 people. The boss was making pronouncements and sending them to "staff", and somebody with admin password created a new mail account under the name "staff", and was disagreeing with the boss. This guy then gets into a back and forth debate with "staff" as if these emails could somehow be a joint writing of 50 people.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:31 AM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Yeah... Many of the above examples are exactly why all work-related stuff should be kept work appropriate. Whereas I would love to pyjama-jam with that adorable cat in the cookie monster outfit and that mistake probably actually brightened a lot of people's days.
posted by eviemath at 6:56 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Honestly, as a product manager, I believe it is fucking incredible that people don’t accidentally send test emails from DEV or QA on a regular basis. I guess most companies these days no longer roll their own spam cannons, which is probably for the best.
posted by thecaddy at 8:02 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


One blank email was a big deal? Feh, this thread has so many better examples!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:19 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


At a prior engagement (before joining my current employer), another company was engaged to test some existing code in a new hardware stack.

It included the credit card billing routine.

They had unmasked production data.

They didn’t update the interface to point at the testing server at the CC vendor.

There were a lot of angry calls by people who were billed tens of thousands of dollars as the process was “tested”.

Oops!
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 8:40 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


I don't get the wayfair one. It's the weird slidy button animation? The HBO one seems pretty harmless. Compared to, say, announcing a nuclear missile attack that isn't real.

My worst day as a very new student in a lab was getting a dip probe stuck in a liquid helium dewar with a massive ice plug. Pressure builds up behind the ice plug and eventually leads to a life-threatening explosion. My advisor took up the sledge hammer while I operated the blow-torch and yelled at everyone to run and evacuate the nearby rooms. We broke it loose and everything worked out well. (There are quite a few photos of holes in ceilings when things haven't gone so well in other labs.) At the time I was incredibly embarrassed. Today, I mostly feel bad for my advisor, who had to decide whether to leave it to explode, evacuate the building, and possibly hurt nearby strangers while destroying years of work, risk only themself with less likelihood of success, or let me help and risk killing a student. I don't envy that decision.
posted by eotvos at 8:45 AM on June 20 [31 favorites]


I've told the story before, but I worked with a woman who on her first day as a procurement clerk accidentally ordered a few hundred pallets of toilet paper instead of the few hundred rolls she meant to. When the shipment arrived, the tractor-trailers stretched from the front gate all the way to the Interstate. She retired seven years ago as head of the procurement department after a career of three decades. Legend has it that there were still rolls from that first order in supply closets around the facility.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:55 AM on June 20 [29 favorites]


I don't get the wayfair one. It's the weird slidy button animation?

Yeah, I think the button was not intended run across the screen and escape into oblivion.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:05 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


это мой первый день
es mi dia primero
这是我的第一天
quack quack quack
posted by adept256 at 9:05 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


> One blank email was a big deal? Feh, this thread has so many better examples!

I wouldn't want to be forced to choose whether I'd rather spam a blank email to millions of people or accidentally talk to a dozen people in person while showing them a whiteboard full of cocks and tits graffiti.
posted by at by at 9:30 AM on June 20 [11 favorites]


I have been fortunate enough not to have any work-related screwups to share here, but I do know a guy who got a job with Georgia Power. After some time there he was promoted to a position of authority such that he set a switch wrong at work and took Plant Vogtle off line for several hours. He wasn’t fired right away, but his days were definitely numbered after that. Doh!
posted by TedW at 10:10 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think the button was not intended run across the screen and escape into oblivion.

As someone who’s worked in web design in frontend dev, I can’t stop chuckling at the Sale tab just deciding “fuck this noise, I’m out of here.” and sliding away. The Sale tab particularly, because they’re always the odd duck in any nav someone in marketing is trying to attract attention to. The idea that it would just nope out of there is great.

(I’m just curious enough that if that was my mistake, I would’ve tried to convince the marketing team to run a split test on that. Would an escaping button actually lead to increased engagement? Conversion? I bet it would, at least at first.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:30 AM on June 20 [10 favorites]


the button was not intended run across the screen and escape into oblivion.

Weird to the point of almost insane, but the cursor was jumping around on my computer, and it jumped off such it that coincided with a bird flying away outside my window. For a minute there I thought, "Oh crap, now the cursor has flown off in the sky."
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:01 PM on June 20 [14 favorites]


accidentally ordered a few hundred pallets of toilet paper instead of the few hundred rolls she meant to.

Well, at least you know those can still be used ;) It reminds me of the book Welcome To Temptation, in which someone overorders "Tucker for Mayor: More of the Same" campaign posters. They literally use them for GENERATIONS....

I wouldn't want to be forced to choose whether I'd rather spam a blank email to millions of people or accidentally talk to a dozen people in person while showing them a whiteboard full of cocks and tits graffiti.

Easy: blank email to millions. "Eh, this is a blank email, someone made a mistake, delete" vs. "I will be telling the genitalia story to everyone I know for LIFE." But I do storytelling, so.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:21 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


I find it hard to believe this was the intern. While the intern may have triggered the emails, the mistake was rather certainly caused by one of: somebody's sloppy handling (= not anonymizing) of production data in tests, somebody allowing the production database to be accessed from the test system, or designing the workflow to be tested in production in the first place.

So, a mistake, or rather neglect, much higher up than intern level, and quite common from what I've seen in projects. Just don't blame it on the intern who pressed the button.
posted by uncle harold at 1:15 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


The story about the Muppet PDF kind of blows my mind, not because the intern made the PDF, not because she accidentally sent to the wrong people, but because she apparently sent it from a work address, intending to send it to another work address! (It just went to the wrong one.) Digital natives, my ass.
posted by praemunire at 1:45 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]




Looks like "dl-customer-all@hbomax.com" (or whatever) accepted mail forwards for all internal systems (instead of default deny / allow only the marketing systems to send to it), so it got used instead of "dl-continuousintegration@hbomax.com" when the sender misconfigured Jenkins. Blaming an exchange server fuckup like this on the INTERN is transcendent bullshit of the variety that makes it clear that AT&T's rot has deeply, deeply penetrated this once great company.
posted by jenkinsEar at 2:46 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


Some fun stories in here, though I never understood why you would fire somebody after they made a genuine mistake. That was expensive training you just provided for them and you can be damn sure it won't happen again.

I mean if it happens again then sure, fire the hell out of them.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:03 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]




Spouse wrested the phone from my grasp after he showed me this email and I attempted to reply "Thanks!" to it.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:56 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of this aviation mishap.
posted by Harald74 at 1:42 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Also, the CEO of that company told me that when he was a young trader, he forgot to close out a commodities position before the end of the quarter, and ended up having to figure out what to do with several hundred tonnes of bananas.

Banana bread, presumably.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 2:08 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]


When I was in law school, someone accidentally sent out a test copy of an email we normally got each semester telling us what exams we needed to write and how to download the files necessary to write them. Although the email was fake the exams themselves were real, thus triggering the most cliche possible nightmares among the entire student population who suddenly thought they were registered to write the exam in at least one course they had never attended or studied for.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:29 AM on June 21 [7 favorites]


For added personal horror, one of the exams included in the email was in a class I had been signed up for that semester, but which I dropped *after* the normal add/drop deadline in order to participate on a mooting team instead. I still occasionally have dreams that were triggered by that email.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:27 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


A former coworker mentioned that sending 1 email to a couple million customers is infinitely better than sending a couple million emails to a single address, which is a thing I've definitely seen in my tenure.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:26 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


A couple years ago, a new hire at my small neighborhood grocery-store-with-a-deli-department mistakenly ordered a large amount of party-size sushi platters that obviously had to be rapidly sold. That was a delicious mistake.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:23 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


My first web development job was for a multi-billion dollar asset management company. I learned two valuable lessons:

1) rm -r can easily and immediately remove an entire production website.

2) Always make friends with the IT guys that can restore from backup.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I also once sent out a bunch of job applications and closed my cover letter with "I am very interesting in this position."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:45 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I also once sent out a bunch of job applications and closed my cover letter with "I am very interesting in this position."

Evidenced by the comment directly above :)
posted by cynical pinnacle at 2:43 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, I had forgotten about squirrel cop. I did a quick review to see whether it's still good, and yes. Yes. It's amazing.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:16 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


kirkaracha: “1) rm -r can easily and immediately remove an entire production website.”
It wasn't my first job, but I learned the same lesson except for COBOL applications. Not catastrophic because I caught it in the onosecond, and my 2) is something I did learn on my first job and it's stuck with me to the point that it's the first quote of my profile on this very website, “Before testing or reconfiguring, always mount a scratch monkey.”
posted by ob1quixote at 9:08 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


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