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Career Suicide by Chain Mail

We all have a co-worker and/or family member who hits "forward" on all those inspirational blurbs, collections of cute-and-cuddly photos, and supposedly humorous cartoons.

Next time you receive one of these notes, hit "reply" and attach a link to this blog post, which tells the cautionary tale of Patricia Daniels.

A 52-year-old former secretary with the City of West Palm Beach Parks and Recreation Department, Daniels was one of four city employees recently fired following an internal investigation over the abuse of city resources.

Daniels didn't allegedly drive county-owned cars to coital interludes or drool over porn sites like some of the others who were fired after the probe. Rather, she was dismissed for the obnoxious habit of shooting off one pointless e-mail after another. The e-mails contained  canned spiritual thoughts, tacky water cooler humor, and images of buff shirtless men... among other things. Upon review, the WPB human resources department decided that some of Daniels' missives were "sexually suggestive" and "offensive" and even "demeaning."

On Tuesday I personally sifted through nearly an entire year's worth of Daniels' e-mails. For a cringe-inducing glimpse at the messages' content, join me after the jump.

For the record, I agree with West Palm Beach's human resources department that, at the very least, cartoon images of women with post-mammogram beasts flattened like paninis are an unwelcome addition to my e-mail inbox. (Daniels really sent that one, which ends with a gentle reminder for women to have their breasts examined for cancer)

Sure, office drones deserve sympathy. Their days are long and their work often dull. But Patricia Daniels is was a public employee whose $35,378/year salary was paid with our tax dollars. Plus, many of the people in her e-mail chains were also public employees. Several of the e-mails from Daniels that I examined carried this warning: 

*Please Note: Florida has a very broad public records law. Written communications to or from public officials regarding City Business are available to the public and media upon request. Your E-Mail communications are therefore subject to public disclosure.

After peering at countless images of soggy kittens, virgin landscapes, greased-up fireman pin-ups...skimming through chipper thoughts-of-the-days, inspirational poems, and prayer chains...I feel like I now know Patricia Daniels. Okay, my knowledge of her is also aided by the fact that she filled out more than one of those silly time-wasting questionaires with titles like: "Answer these questions if you're bored stiff with nothing else to do, then forward the list to ten friends within the hour...or else you'll never have sex again!" (I embellished a little on the title) 

So, here's what I know about Patricia Daniels, by her own admissions: If she were a fruit, she would be a mango. Her favorite drink is Crystal Light. If she were a crayon, she would be the color purple. Her favorite food is fried chicken. She is afraid of snakes. Her least favorite veggie is turnip greens. The actress she'd choose to play her in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie is Tyra Banks. She can't bear the sound of tennis shoes squeaking on the floor during a basketball game. She wishes someone would invent a 40-hour work week with only 30 hours in it.

Are you creeped out yet? Me too.    

Let this be a warning. Don't send personal notes from your work e-mail accounts, or you may fall prey to voyeurs like me who have easy access to a blog.

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Amy Guthrie
Contact: Amy Guthrie

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