Tuesday morning we drove down to the local CBS affiliate to give an interview about my book to the news during the noon hour, and when we walked into the studios we immediately recognized the smell of Mormon Church. This is not uncommon in Utah, for certain buildings to smell of wooden pews, starch, and carpet cleaner, an aroma particular to Sunday meetings at an LDS church. Could be similar building materials, but it could also be that this is what Mormons smell like, and before I even finish this sentence I should probably ask myself, Heather? Really? Do you want all that email from angry Mormons who take offense at being described as smelling like a warm casserole fart?
We arrived early because that is how I operate, although do you know how hard it is to get anywhere on time when you live with a man who must pat down every pocket in his wardrobe to locate his wallet and keys? Every pocket on his body, every pocket in the six pairs of pants scattered on the floor in the bedroom, every pocket in every jacket hanging in the closet. He looks like he’s flagged himself for a security check at the airport and is patting himself down to make sure he’s not concealing a deadly weapon.
We waited in the lobby for someone to come out and point us in the right direction, and when the receptionist answered a call on the speaker phone we both buried our heads into our iPhones to pretend that we weren’t listening. Except, we couldn’t help but listen because it wasn’t just an ordinary phone call. It was a hate phone call. An emotional hate phone call. A hate phone call threatening to sue someone because the captions on certain Saturday evening shows haven’t been working. Where is the person in charge?! They wanted to know! NOW! WHERE ARE THEY, DAMMIT! SHUT UP WITH ALL YOUR EXCUSES! I’ll admit, for a second I thought I had entered some weird dimension where the comments section of this website had come alive and was now being read aloud through a telephone.
And that’s when the entire right side of my face began to twitch involuntarily.
The receptionist handled it remarkably well, resisted the understandable human urge to shout back NO, YOU SHUT UP, kept assuring this very unhappy consumer that they as a local affiliate have no control over whether or not those specific shows feature captions, but the caller was undeterred and viciously shouted things like, “NO! NO! NO!” and “SUE! SUE! SUE!” and even threw in a growl for good measure. When the receptionist tried politely to wind down the conversation the angry person hung up abruptly. The best part? The angry person WAS A RELAY OPERATOR, meaning this was a person hired to communicate for a deaf person. Having once worked a job where I routinely answered phone calls from the public, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a more dedicated relay operator. The ones I encountered were very stoic in their delivery, uninterested at times, usually monotone in delivering another person’s commands. But this one, my god, she knew how to communicate an emotion! And I thought, this is exactly what I have been depriving my hate mailers! They deserve better from me!
So I’m thinking of hiring a relay operator who will once a week stand a foot away from my face and read the hate mail that has collected over a seven-day period. She should be passionate, dedicated, capable of spitting her T’s and S’s and F’s into my eyes when reading aloud the following angry sentiments:
“Since the ‘F’ word is your favorite, that is the grade I give your website.”
“You are so pathetic. I feel sad for you. I think you should change the name of your site to bored.com.”
“You are the reason why the government should be able to regulate who can have children. How tragic for your daughter.”
“Your nothing but a dirty piece of whiny drivel.”
“Get a life idiot! You got fired for being a stupid whore!”
And then once it’s all over, once she has calmed down and I’ve managed to walk around the block a couple of times, we can hug, agree that the both of us were having a bad day, and then go out and grab a beer and laugh about how stupid all that was.
I think I just figured out how to fix the Internet.