Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jo Ann Emerson Called Me a What!??!

According to a recent AP article my congressional representative called one of my fellow constituents an asshole in a letter. Or as the writer puts it in revealingly discreet prose, “a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter A – ‘i think you're an ...’”

I used to get these horribly condescending emails from my boss. He tended to simultaneously shove all of his duties onto those of us that worked for him and make us look like drooling idiots at the same time. For instance, let’s say that his boss told him to fetch a cup of coffee and he decided to pass the job on to me. (Never happened but frankly I wouldn’t have been all that surprised if it had.) Here’s how he would have handled that. In an email addressed to me and CC’d to his boss, the district manager, the sales manager, our three most important customers, and our busybody receptionist he would have written: “Bryce, My boss asked me to ask you [lie] to fetch him a cup of coffee. Now, I know that you’ve been in our break room 1,385 times since you started working here but I’m going to treat you like the vegetable with legs that we all know that you are. First, the cups are kept in the cabinet about the coffee dispenser. Take a cup. Just one because my boss only wants one. Next, you get coffee out of the dispenser by pressing… Once you have the cup of coffee, stop by my office so that I can inspect it and make sure that you’ve done it right. Then, once I’ve confirmed that it is OK, I’ll let you carry it into my boss’s office while I sit on my fat ass and find more ways to humiliate and frustrate you.”

And what could I do but get the coffee? But first, after cursing to myself, I would write a nasty reply telling him exactly what I thought of him. I wouldn’t censure myself at all. I’d just let the vile juices flow. Then I’d promptly delete the reply, tuck my tail and fetch. (I’m SO glad that I quit that job!)

Now, we’ve all done that, right? And I’m sure that a few of these messages accidentally get sent. It’s an easy mistake to make with email. But this letter from Rep. Emerson was something special.

Here’s the scenario that I see in my mind. One of Rep Emerson’s underpaid but full of zeal lackeys was given the assignment of replying to all of the mail that they had backed up. After reading letter after letter complaining about this and that that his infallible leader had done, he finally had his fill. To unload some of the frustration that had been building he added to the bottom of one of the letters, “You’re an asshole.” Maybe he did it more than once. But one of the letters slipped by him before he could delete that last sentence and it got printed. OK, that’s understandable. As easy to do as sending that email.

But the real delight in this story is that in a note at the bottom of the letter there’s a post script apologizing for the delay. It’s in Emerson’s handwriting. So, she actually looked at the letter before it went out.

Here’s why I find this story so pleasing. It’s not because I take pleasure in seeing elected officials screw up. I’d take pleasure in seeing a lot less of that, actually. No, I love this story because, though we all know that our elected officials and their hangers on have no respect for their constituency, we rarely get such concrete evidence of their disrespect. It’s apparent in the laws they pass and what they do with our tax money. It’s obvious in the campaigns that they run – begging us not to think about the issues but to simply vote based on fear or anger with those that disagree with us. But there’s a small satisfaction in have this disdain for us so clearly demonstrated. It’s nice to have my suspicions validated.