OMG – Where’s the un-send key?!

It has been a long time since I inadvertently sent an embarrassing email to the wrong party. Or, it had been until about an hour ago, anyway.

Who hasn’t felt that special panic, that sudden gasp of dread, that accompanies watching an email shoot off into the ether toward the wrong recipient? I can’t remember the last time it happened to me, which is good – it was either too long ago, or too unimportant, to be recalled. But this one today was rather a doozy. A couple of snarky comments aimed at the person who ultimately received it. A person who, to put it mildly, probably won’t have a sense of humor about it.

After hyperventilating for a few minutes, I conferred with the intended recipient of the email, RB, who tried to reassure me that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. But every moment that has passed since then – every moment without a response from the aggrieved party – has been a small agony.

Not sure when I’ll hear from the aggrieved, or what the response will be. I’ve decided I have to just act like the comments were more innocuous than they felt when I typed them. No, they’re not horrible – just snarky. Not the kind of thing you normally say to a person’s face.

Oy, to take back the last hour! No more multitasking for me; it’s too dangerous.

Help me out here, people – has anyone else done this within memory? I feel like I just flunked third grade.

13 responses to “OMG – Where’s the un-send key?!”

  1. My last instance of this happened last year, when I sent a complaining email about one of our clients to the client being complained about, instead of to the co-worker it was intended for. It was pretty embarrassing but not the end of the world, or of the client relationship.

  2. ScottyGee says:

    I can’t really help you out, with the email problem, but I can tell you that knowing you as well as I do, I can’t imagine that what you said was THAT bad. It wasn’t right? Seriously.

  3. Rachel says:

    Back in the days of AOL, there actually was an “un-send” button–if the recipient hadn’t yet opened the email, you could take it back. I was very grateful for that, having written more than a few rash & unwise missives in my time.

    It’s going to be OK, LP. Really.

  4. swells says:

    Have I done it? Let’s just say that when I saw what the subject of your post was, I felt so sick I almost couldn’t read it. And it was years ago. In fact, I recently deleted a message I was about to forward to my sister with similar bad intent just because of the trauma of the first time it happened (she was the intended recipient both times, but the first time, let’s just say it didn’t go to her as planned and involved a potential suitor who was a friend of hers). All I can say is, I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, and that even in my case (which I’m sure was much more potentially hurtful), the person was gracious and fully absolving, more so than I deserved. People are nice. Other people, anyway. He or she will understand.

  5. Josh K-sky says:

    When I worked for an elected official, he was invited to go to the Cesar Chavez march, and since he couldn’t go, the organizer invited me. I forwarded it to my boss, the chief of staff, with a note saying, “Do I have to go to this? Doesn’t seem to be any reason.” Maybe a little more dismissive. Except I didn’t forward, I replied to the organizer. Who was Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter. So yeah, I went to the march.

  6. swells says:

    I hope you will share with us when the aggrieved party responds, however awfully. We must know!

  7. LP says:

    2: RB says it wasn’t so awful, but I still feel terrible. I sent an apology right away, and have since sent a couple other emails on another subject. (I decided that acting like it was a minor thing myself might help defuse things) No response yet, though that may be because the aggrieved doesn’t check email often and may not even have seen the original note.

    4, 5: O.M.G. Thank you; this does make me feel better.

    3: Ha! Remember when AOL was the only email around? For years, a friend of mine would respond with just his name when someone asked his email address – the “” wasn’t ever needed.

    Will post another comment when the aggrieved responds… Sigh.

  8. J-Man says:

    I think the question is, has anyone *not* done this. Lately I try to remind myself to listen to my inner editor “don’t hit send! don’t hit send!” I still don’t always listen though (as many of you have seen evidence of right here on this here blog). I blame the Enter button for being large and obtrusive.

  9. Allytigator says:

    I miss the “retrieve” button. More recently, I’ve been the victim of my new touchscreen phone, which has inadvertently sent things that I was still drafting/revising/considering whether to send at all, or deleted things I needed like my brother’s new address as I was on my way to pick him up. Aaargh. Thankfully there’s an “undo” button for the deletions, but not for the sends. Bring back the “retrieve” I say, it was my reprieve.

  10. LP says:


    The aggrieved sent an email this morning. It was one line, responding to one of the later missives I’d sent. Not a word about the offending email. Not sure if she (a) wasn’t offended, (b) didn’t notice, or (c) was offended but chose to get over it. Perhaps we’ll never know.


  11. Tee Wa-her says:


  12. swells says:

    No! I need more.

  13. LP says:

    Update to the update: I had a dream last night where the aggrieved, in the course of a perfectly pleasant dinner, looked across the table at me and said, “I know what you did.”