Fact Check

Hot Down Here

Widow receives misdirected email from her husband announcing he's arrived safely but it's 'sure hot down here.'

Published March 1, 2001


Joke:   Widow receives misdirected e-mail from her husband announcing "It sure is hot down here."


[Collected on the Internet, 1998]

Mr. Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back home to his wife, Jennifer .

Unfortunately, he forgot his wife's exact e-mail address and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson of New Jersey, the wife of a preacher who had just passed away. The preacher's wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted.

When she was finally revived by her daughter, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: "Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here.

[Collected on the Internet, 2005]

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida on Thursday, with the wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail since she was expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: November 18, 2004

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

PS. Sure is freaking hot down here.


  • The businessman is invariably from a part of the U.S.A. famed for its cold winters, with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois (especially Chicago) commonly named.
  • He travels to a location in the United States famed for its winter warmth, such as Florida or Louisiana.
  • He's either on a business trip (in which case he sends the note merely to let his wife know he has arrived safely) or is on vacation (in which case the missus is expected to meet him there, thus setting up one of the funnier conclusions to the tale).
  • The deceased husband of the woman who receives the misdirected note is commonly described as a preacher, minister, Methodist pastor, or rabbi. Often additional information is provided that he died the preceding day.
  • In versions where the women are given names, though the surname remains Johnson, the first names will be Jean, Jennifer, or Joan.
  • When we're told where she lives, it's either Duluth, New Jersey, Houston.
  • A slight tweak of one especially common version kills off the poor widow, when "fell to the floor in a dead faint" is rendered as "fell to the floor dead."
  • More playful versions include the note "Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow."

Origins:   Ah, e-mail — the bane and blessing of our existence. The ease afforded by this new wizardry makes possible such blunders as

our winging off personal notes that land in the wrong inboxes. It's a rare netizen who hasn't momentarily blanked out on a familiar e-mail address and pulled the wrong one out of memory, mistyped an address, or (one of my favorites) sent a communication meant as a sub rosa gossip between two friends to an entire mailing list.

In this instance the consequences of a moment's inattention are pointed out in a humorous fashion by showing the effect even an innocuous communication can have when sent to the wrong person. The widow is stunned to receive a note from her deceased husband; even worse, one that clearly indicates he ended up in Hell. Through the example of her discomfiture, we are all cautioned to give our outgoing mail that one last eyeballing before hitting the 'Send' key.

Somewhere along the line, the text of the second example given above began circulating in a version presented as an item torn from the pages of a newspaper

Barbara "mail manned" Mikkelson

Last updated:   20 October 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Minkoff, David.   Oy! The Ultimate Book of Jewish Jokes.

    Great Britain: Robson Books, 2005.   ISBN 0-312-36176-9
  (pp. 338-339).