Yesterday I had a snap lesson in how a tiny mistake can snowball into a mini-disaster--and how it can be fixed. There's a new wine bar in my neighborhood. I stopped in a few weeks ago, just after the grand opening, and put my name on their email list. Yesterday, the first email came ... and then they kept coming. After about a dozen arrived, people started sending angry emails, all of which went to the entire list. Everyone wanted to be unsubscribed, and failed to realize that their requests were not only ineffective--they actually made the problem worse.

Toward the end, it got nasty. One person wrote, "Who is this? Please inscribe me from this stupid list." To which someone else replied, "inscribe you....what exactly does that mean you f**king retard". A couple saner souls sent out more mature, professional responses, asking that everyone please refrain from sending unsubscribe requests to the entire list. (Okay, I was one of those saner souls.) Meanwhile, I thought, "I'll never go to this wine bar again."

The barrage of emails subsided in the late afternoon. Finally, this morning, I received what I hope will be the last email I get from them for a while. It came from an actual person with a real email address, not a faceless mailing list. They apologized, and offered a free glass of wine for anyone subjected to the email tsunami. I guess I'll be going back after all.