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What “My Working Hours May Not Be Your Working Hours” Really Means

By Ben Fogler If you’ve ever corresponded via email professionally, you’ve likely seen that some people have special custom signatures. Rather than simply a:


Deirdre Quack,”

A few of your coworkers may desire to include additional pieces of information. It’s pretty standard to follow up your name with your credentials, ie:

“Many thanks,

Bebe BonBon, PhD

Senior Director of Supervising Assistant Regional Directions Officer”

Or, in an effort to inject a little passion into an otherwise soulless workplace, there are some who decide to have an inspiring quote after they sign off:

“Warm regards,

Dennis Perseverance

‘The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambuscade. Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming.’ -Sun Tzu, The Art of War”

Recently, however, a new email-ender has joined the fray. One of the effects of the rise of the internet is that everyone expects everything immediately, and in many corporate spaces, 9 to 5 is something of a joke. If you’re not on the computer at 3 am, diva, you’re not hustling. In an effort to combat this toxic workaholic culture, a few reactionaries have added a fun little tag at the end of their emails: “My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal work schedule.” 

It’s meant to be taken at face value, but certain key phrases suggest an underlying tone of condescension and scorn. “My working hours may not be your working hours. I’m informing you of this because clearly, I can’t expect you to respond as fast as I would be able to. But seriously, noooo, I’m NOT annoyed. So DON’T feel obligated to respond outside of your…*sniff of disdain* NORMAL…work schedule.” Or something to that effect. It’s possible that I am reading into it slightly -- maybe it does come from a genuine desire for a change to the expectation that we all have to be constantly working. But I don’t think so. Here are all the things that “My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal work schedule” really means:

“I work harder than you.”

“I work harder than you, and I want you to know it.”

“I work harder than you, and I want you to know it and know that I know it.”

“See the timestamp on this email? 11:37 pm on a Saturday? Yeah, while you were watching TV on your couch, I was up working. The grind never stops for alphas like me. I can’t say the same for you though beta.”

“Actually, I am gratified by your complacency. I go the extra mile, and you are content with your meager station in life. I guess we’ll see how that goes when we’re both up for promotion. So really, please—I’m begging you—DO NOT feel any obligation WHATSOEVER to respond outside of the schedule that works for YOU.”

“Hey, flop, everyone knows you’re not dedicated to this company. You better hope there’s not another recession anytime soon, or we both know who’s getting laid off. Anyway, have a nice night!”

“I am superior to you in every way. And that’s okay! I just thought you should be aware.”

“How old are you? Late 40s? That makes sense. It’s clear you’ve lost your drive. I, on the other hand, am young. I am full of ambition. I’ve got my whole career ahead of me. For you, it’s a struggle to put on clean undies everyday. My undies are fresh. Soooo fresh. Yours? Putrid. Unwashed. Disgusting. Just like you, pig.”  

“Reverse psychology -- I’m telling you that you don’t have to respond, because I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, I can spark some tiny desire for success in you. But I know how you operate, and I’m guessing that won’t happen. Sigh once a couch potato, always a couch potato.” 

No one would miss you if you died.” 

“I bet you hate me, because I am fulfilled by my job, and you aren’t. You envy me. You want to be me, but you don’t have the gumption. Allow me to impart some words of wisdom: as a wise drag queen once said, ‘Jealousy is a killer in this industry. Don’t get bitter, just get better.’”

“I dare you to respond. I dare you! For once in your MISERABLE and PATHETIC life, actually do something! It wouldn’t even take you two minutes. But I guess that would require too much of you and your weak, depressing 9 to 5 schedule.”

“You are NOT one of my elite employees.” 

“My jawline is sharp, and my marriage hasn’t lost its spark. Your jawline is giving Mitch McConnell, and you haven’t had a loving embrace since Clinton was president. Have I made it clear to you yet how much I despise you, you worm?” 

“Go choke. Maybe you’ll have a valid excuse for not responding to my email.” 

“In the amount of time it will take for you to get around to respond, I will have completed several other tasks, satisfied four clients, worked out, done my taxes, and had an affair with your spouse, who MUCH prefers ME.” 

“What is it like to be so torpid? I wouldn’t know.” 

“Who cares that this email is not urgent and also totally unimportant? A real man would respond in five minutes or less.” 

“If slugs were people, they’d be you. Love ya!”


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