I might have been feeling under-utilized

I was four months into a job at Harvard Medical School when I began to feel a bit strange. I was a biological software engineer at the time, and I was reading all these microbiology textbooks, and suddenly my entire life began to flash before my eyes. What was I doing?

Funny thing is, I liked the job. I liked the work I was doing, and in particular, I liked my colleagues. I liked everything about Harvard, apart from the Business School, I suppose. That place is crawling with twenty-two-year-olds who aspire to run hedge funds. It’s creepy. Harvard Medical School merely has a lot of kids cutting up cadavers. I can work with those people – as long as I don’t have to see the actual cadavers, of course, but that never happened because I worked in the library, and the only thing actually dead in the library are the spirits of some of the older librarians. Though in fairness, if you know anything about libraries in higher education, you’ll know they’ve been contending with quite a lot.

(I later wrote a funny book about those librarians which has been fairly well-received, so if you’re enjoying WRONGCARDS, you should check that out).

But I was saying, I was working with a bunch of scientists on the fourth floor of the Countway Library of Medicine, when that region in my brain governing creativity began to have a little tantrum. I began to see visions, and I stopped being able to sleep properly. I didn’t understand it then, but I have come to understand that I have a creative mind, and if I don’t exercise it, ~~ it begins to misbehave~~ okay I get a bit difficult.

Now, most people don’t seem to care when I’m difficult; I have a charming and whimsical personality, obviously, and anybody who says otherwise is merely bereft of wit and intellect, constrained by their own pettiness, and for some reason hanging onto pain. But as I say, when I am prevented from being creative, I become a little … michievous.

Example, I would call up IT and pretend I’d accidentally started a fire in my office, and ask them what I should do about it. That sort of thing. Nothing too serious, but all the same, ill-advised and worrisome. People probably thought I was a lunatic, but if that was a fireable offense at Harvard, there’d be nobody left to teach the students. (But as I say, if you really want to know what it’s like working with a bunch of maniacs geniuses, then I suggest reading my book.

Meanwhile, my imagination was in complete revolt. I was receiving a message, loud and clear from my subsconsciousness, and it went a bit like this: Kris,if you don’t start doing creative things, I’m going to sabotate your life in every conceivable way.

So, I created Wrongcards – a truthful-yet-useless ecard website that nobody in their right mind would ever use.

The site’s first iteration took me an entire weekend to build. I launched with sixteen cards, and uploaded everything onto a server on a Tuesday, which happened to be April 1st, 2008. Why April 1st? The answer is: no reason whatsoever. That was just the day I happened to get it all done. I don’t even like April Fools Day. It is a solemn day for me, a day in which marketing executives like to orchestrate ‘pranks’ to make their clients seem human and relatable.

Don’t look at me like that – I’m allowed to hate some things.

Of course, another thing I happen to hate is greeting card companies. You might even have noticed this. Well, let me put it all in perspective. I was working in a library, and surrounded by people who were a lot crazier than me. And by the way, if libraries were invented today, they’d be banned outright. They’d be blasted for piracy, for physical file-sharing, and most librarians would have to flee to non-extradition countries.

I’m not a librarian – I lack the temperament, and I make far too many jokes about arson – but I’d spent my childhood hiding in libraries, and when I worked at Harvard, my office simply happened to be in the library, so my social circle included rather a lot of them. In fact, I even wrote a book about librarians.

(For what it’s worth, I wrote the first satirical novel about Harvard University, The Harvard Skull Fiasco. I know, right? Not bad for a working class Australian bloke.)

But I was saying, I’m not a librarian, though I am sensitive to the challenges they face. My librarian friends were being menaced by a bunch of MBAs, keen to turn the library into some sort of profitable business. So, as an expression of solidarity, I made my colleagues some cards like these.

Good stuff, really.

Good stuff, really.

The irony is, I was never a discontented employee. And some of my closest friends are middle managers (bless their hearts). Perhaps I’m a remarkably tolerant individual, or something. Still, I’ll admit part of me enjoyed terrorizing the middle managers of the library just a little.

In retrospect, it’s amazing nobody came to talk to me about this.

In retrospect, it’s amazing nobody came to talk to me about this.

But in truth, I didn’t create WRONGCARDS for other people. I made it for myself, as a sort-of art project, for the sake of exercising my imagination and thereby staying (relatively) sane.

After two months of operation, I was understandably unnerved to discover that wrongcards.com had received over 150,000 visitors.

It was a bit of a jolt. What should I do? This website didn’t look good for my career, but it seemed churlish to shut down the site. I mean, what was Harvard going to do - fire me? Well, yes, obviously they’d probably fire me, if they knew about it – there were too many cards advocating violence against middle managers – but I didn’t really want to be fired.

On the other hand, I’d have to leave Harvard one day. Leaving under a dark cloud would clearly be the coolest way of going about that. So instead of shutting down Wrongcards, I decided to keep it going and just not tell anybody at work about it.


Some part of me was probably hoping to get in trouble.

So, after a few long hours of extreme prudence and restraint, I finally broke down and told one colleague about the site. I made him swear he wouldn’t tell anybody. The problem is, he worked at the Circulate Desk of the library, and he had little to do all day but chat to people. Yes, I think it took him until Friday to tell every single person on campus. Then things got a bit weird for me.

I remember getting into the elevator one day with this really nice, older lady who worked in Harvard Health Publications, and she said, “Hey, I went to Wrongcards today. So good!.”

In that moment, we both remembered the latest card.

We stared awkwardly at the floor until the elevator doors opened, and I was able to flee. You see how dumb this whole thing is?

Wrongcards Postcards

A few years passed, and I had not come to the attention of Human Resources. So, I started to sell printed postcards at Amazon. Each box has 20 different cards, and they look so great in person.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a marketing budget — or an actual budget, for that matter — and I think I sold only about 500 boxes or so. About twenty people who bought them took the time to write to me and tell me how much they love them, so that was cool.


After a few years, I became a creative director for an autism research lab in the Center for Biomedical Informatics. How did that happen, you ask?


See, I thought I was sabotaging my career, but actually all I was doing was showcasing my skillset. I was proving I could get things done. I had built all this, you see – all of it. I designed the site, did all the illustrations, wrote all the content. I even coded (in GoLang) the ecard delivery app, and administer the server. In building this strange website, I more or less proved that I can do everything. Which was certainly not my original intention. Life’s a little strange, isn’t it.

Into the Future

One day, I left Harvard (and sadly, not under a dark cloud) and started writing books. I don’t know what I’m going to do with Wrongcards. I’m glad, and surprised, I haven’t lost the entire website in a game of Mah Jong. I don’t even know how to play Mah Jong, which just goes to show how easy it would have been to lose.

Personally, I think the best part of Wrongcards are not the cards themselves, but the descriptions below them. They tell their own (somewhat truthful) stories, though I find reading them puts me in a rather strange mood. If you enjoy the descriptions then I recommend reading some of my newsletters, because they’re a lot more enjoyable and sophisticated.


No, I don’t monetize this website. I’m determined for this site to be, not merely a waste of time, but a glorious waste of time. Besides, there’s probably not much money in Ecards That Are Wrong For Every Occasion, anyway.

In conclusion

I don’t currently have a ‘real’ job. Potential employers can google my name and see all these weird ecards and … well, ironically, the only place that would probably hire me now is Harvard University, because (let’s face it) they’ve done it before, and not only that, they promoted me. Twice. Honestly, if I hadn’t left of my own accord, they would have put me in charge of an entire department by now. That’s the problem with being good at things. You end up being put in charge of everything, and now other people’s general foolishness becomes your problem and responsibility (yes, I’m talking about you, Todd).

Still, truth be told, I probably should write as many books as I can, because they do seem to make a lot of people happy. Of course, if your institution is looking for someone like me, hit me up. I mean, your middle managers aren’t going to terrorize themselves, are they?

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With Chaste Affection,

Kris St.Gabriel (November, 2023)