When XX, aka “XXX” the syndicated columnist, writes a bestseller
titled “XXXXX,” one just knows that there are going
to be some important issues discussed here.
Ms XXXX writes a popular advice column called xxxxx.
But when I politely emailed her with a query about how an old 2010 column of hers misquoted the French philosopher John Paul Sartre for saying “Hell is other people at breakfast” — and of course, he never said that, but Amy borrowed the misquote from a 2003 Atlantic piece by
jester Jonathan Rauch who was kidding, kidding! — xxxx did not reply to me at all. I merely asked her if she was aware she picked up
a fake quote and ran it as legit in her own column, and if she had fact-checked the alleged Sartre quip at all. No replies, no email response, nada.
That is how an advice columnist treats a fellow writer, a fellow internet gumshoe investigative sleuth? With stone silence? For three days?
So I wrote back to the “xxxx” again with the same query, but since she had ignored my missive the first time, I sent the same email over and over again ten times, so that her mailbox would realize it was NOT SPAM and hopefully she might finally read my letter and reply. She did! Angry
and pissed off.
The woman who hates rude people but who was rude herself, then has the chutzpah to deny that SHE was the one being rude here.
Her first reply: “Dear Sir, You just emailed me now about 10 more times. I’m sick and prepping for a radio show. Please stop emailing me. I made the mistake of trusting Rauch’s quote in a piece I loved in The Atlantic. I am normally meticulous about checking every wisp of information in my column and did not check this. Apparently, this is a source of great satisfaction for you. Great! Stop emailing me about it.”
I did not know she was sick and I apologized for my email blast to her ten times over and over. I said I was sorry, but I hate being ignored,
especially when I am on deadline to get a story finished. And especially when it’s an advice columnist who writes books about rude people being rude herself by not acknowledging receipt of my first or second emails.
I told her so. She got hot under the collar again and wrote to me, even angrier and ruder than before:
“Dear sir, I get email for a living — piles and piles of it. I have been sick now for two days and haven’t done the writing I needed to do. Understand that email doesn’t get opened immediately because I get a lot of it and I have a lot on my plate. It is presumptuous to expect anyone to open mail speedily simply because you can send it with speed. Many columnists do not even answer their mail. I do. I’m not in bed, though I should be. I hope you’ll buy my next book, which will have information in it on how one shouldn’t expect an immediate reply to an email. Please, for now, don’t email back. I am on deadline, way behind, and sick and with a radio show to do in seven minutes. And never, never send somebody 15 emails in the span of two days. And really — I didn’t write you back on the dot yesterday and I get email bombed today? Come on. I haven’t written back to my lawyer except to tell him I was sick and would get back to him sometime next week.”
Hell is other people who do not reply to email. Especially when they are syndicated advice columnists who routinely go around telling people
not to be rude to others, and especially when all I wanted was an explanation of how she got the Sartre quote wrong and never corrected it. Even now, it remains on her archives — uncorrected. Sheesh!
Maybe Sartre was right: ”Hell is other people on email.”