Friday, July 22, 2011


Ever have one of those days where you feel like all you have to do is breathe and people hate you? I had one of those yesterday, which made me remember a recent phone conversation I had with my friend Andrew in which he said, “Anything you do will piss people off.”

He is right, of course. Yes, I am the woman people love to hate for some reason.

I was telling my good pal Garth yesterday about this phenomenon and today he posted a sign on my Facebook wall saying he had found my sign. It said:

“WARNING! I will more than likely offend you at some point.”

How true, how true. It put a smile on my face.

For example, there was a discussion in a Lyme disease group on Facebook yesterday and someone who had moved to the woods asked if there was an insecticide that would kill the plethora of ticks. Several of us recommended pyrethrin, which is made from chrysanthemums and is considered by many to be a natural and safe solution to control pests. As luck would have it, though, I was the one who was singled out and labeled “irresponsible” for using it for God knows whatever reason.

Then there was the Facebook guy, who worked the counter at O’Reilly Auto Parts, who told me I was “pathetic” because I was making money off Buck Owens’s name. See it’s OK for other biographers to write about all sorts of public figures, but it’s not for me. But, as the old saw goes: “You can’t engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.” So I pretty much let other people zing back at him. At least some people like me enough to defend my honor and I thank them for that.

When I moved to Tennessee in 2000, I discovered how unpopular I was based on what I had accomplished in my life, i.e. I had written a book for HarperCollins and spent ten-plus (I don’t count the last two on-call) years as an editor at The Washington Post. I had never run into so much professional jealousy as I did at the Nashville newspaper for which I worked. I remember when a new supervisor from another department was assigned to be in charge of the news desk. He called each of us in individually to talk with us for at least fifteen minutes in an attempt to get to know us better. The first words out of his mouth were, “I’ll be honest with you, for some reason I don’t like you. I don't know why, but I don't like you.” Then, like the Kevin Spacey character in Horrible Bosses, he proceeded to make my life a living hell by nitpicking at every word in every headline I wrote, forcing me to work twelve-hour days every Friday, and much more.

I could go on, but I think you understand what I’m trying to say. Some people hate me. Why I have this effect on people, I do not know because if you get to know me, I am a pretty nice person so that is all that matters.

One thing that made me feel better about my writing was the other night when Andrew told me in our conversation: “You don’t have to be popular; you just have to be good.”

Of course, he is right.

1 comment:

  1. That boss at the Nashville paper is amazing. Particularly as he acknowledged his bias right at the top. He pretty much said "I'm a bonafide dick and I'm going to be a dick to you constantly."

    One thing I've learned over the years is that if someone says something negative about himself, you can pretty much take it to the bank. This especially goes for relationships. If a girl says "hey you know what? I'm crazy as a loon" the best thing to do is run away quickly. Same thing for the guy who says he has a problem with jealousy.

    The natural, socially respectable response is to say "oh I'll bet your not as all bad as that" but chances are - they are!

    I frankly don't know how I would have handled your situation with that boss. The temptation would be to go record it somewhere, and maybe even have someone else witness it, so that when he did start acting like a dick, you'd have something to show for it (in the worst case - should you find yourself out of a job because of him). Other than that though...I don't know.