At the moment, I'm working in a position where I am supposed to move around to different places depending on who is away - a lot like a relief teacher. If one of my Esteemed Colleagues goes on leave for a week, I take over their job for that time. Sometimes the job lasts a few days, sometimes for months.
Being an organized, control-freaky kind of guy, I thought it would be nice to know how long I would be working in my current position before having to move somewhere else. This has important ramifications for my planning of various activities such as stealing stationery, staking out a claim to a good desk, whether or not it's worth maintaining my personal hygiene, and so on.
So I emailed my boss and asked how long I would be there for. I was told to ask her boss. So I did, and I cc-ed admin so they would get the answer. And her boss told me I should have asked my boss, and cc-ed admin, my boss, and the director of training.
The director of training then responded to all of the above, and added in my boss's boss's boss, and that person's boss for good measure. This then got forwarded to another big big boss, who then responded to everyone and also included twenty-three other people in the distribution list, including 12 big big bosses.
Then my boss emailed just me, repeating the information. Then she emailed me, her boss, admin, head of training, the big big boss and the big big boss letting them know that she planned to answer my question and in fact proceeded to do so in the same email (presumably for the sake of efficiency).
Just in case that's not clear, I've prepared a diagram. Time flows downward, each email is indicated by a red line. For the sake of brevity, I have grouped all 23 people emailed by the other big big boss into one column, since they themselves didn't send any further emails themselves.