Re: I can sympathise....
Since we were IBM-all-the-way at work, I dicovered that we were also connected to the IBM network and all had an IBMMAIL address which we could use to get internet email to and from our local PROFS system.
Early '90's I was working at DEC, at department that used to be Philips, and a friend was doing postgrad work at IBM in Heidelberg. From reading a NOTES file I found out I could send mail to the outside Internet, and some more digging revealed the incantations to send mail from there to an IBMMAIL address. So after three or four tries I managed the right combination of quoting, gateway arcana and munging the address to get mail to him. And of course him hitting 'reply' did not work without further changes to the mail path.
crowcarrier pigeon flies it was 600km; mail went halfway around the world via Palo Alto and either Toronto or some other IBM site on the US East coast.