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With the school year behind us and summer trips on the horizon, with airline flights getting cancelled at the last minute and rental car rates through the sunroof, I offer this out-of-office email auto-reply you can use when leaving town for vacation or when skipping bond. 

Dear friend/co-worker/family member/complete stranger/SPAM sender, I am currently out of the office on vacation. I’m not supposed to tell you that because I recently read about a couple who posted something on Facebook like…  

“This is a photo taken today of our entire family severely nauseous on a deep-sea fishing boat off the coast of Galveston, Texas which is 1,600 miles away from our home at 3572 Bonehead Drive in Newark, New Jersey. We’ll be here 4 more days.

We had been saving up to buy stronger locks and a security alarm system for the house but opted for the Gulf vacation instead. So glad we did. We’re staying at a Motel 6 because the cost of keeping our pit bull “Kujo” and our Rottweiler “Psycho Vampire” at the Canine Kennel and Day Spa is costing us a fortune. 

We left a voicemail message and front door key under the mat for our neighbor Gladys (who has agoraphobia, whatever that is) so she can get in and water our plants. I hope she remembers to get our mail as I’m expecting a huge settlement check after a bad experience with a White Castle burger I’d rather not go into. I also hope that Madge remembers to get the newspaper out of our driveway each day. Everybody knows that nothing says, ‘Please rob us while we’re gone’ like newspapers piling up in the driveway.” 

Not surprisingly one of the vacationing couple’s Facebook friends was not really a nun operating a shelter for unwed cats. Instead, she was actually a freelance pawn shop operator who dealt in stolen merchandise. Hey, you know how you like to come home to a clean house after a vacation? Well, this family came home to a VERY clean house! No problem finding space to display those tacky vacation souvenirs that have you saying to yourself a week later, “Well, a giant beer stein with painted lobsters and the words ‘Maine Is For Lubbers’ seemed cute at the time.” 

Anyway, as I said, I will be out of the office, and I know I’m supposed to say that I’ll have limited access to email and won’t be able to respond until I return, but that’s not true. I will have my MacBook, iPhone, iPad, Apple watch, fax machine, and a photocopier with me at all times because I have an electronic addiction and I have panic attacks if I lose internet access for more than 10 minutes. Therefore, I can respond almost immediately to the most trivial item you send me. 

Knowing the world might come to an end if I don’t regularly check my messages, my wife is understanding of my complete emotional detachment and relational unavailability during nights, weekends, holidays, and vacations. She recognizes that I need to interrupt any special occasion throughout the day to deal with urgent matters such as approving a purchase order for paperclips. 

In my absence you are also welcome to contact my assistant Roxanne at [email protected].com but she will likely just forward everything to me at [email protected].  Thanks again for your message. 

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage & family therapist in Franklin, (  the author of multiple books, and a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He can be reached at [email protected]  

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