the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Job opening

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”

“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.

  • Eric Hegwer

    2009/04/16 at 2:48 pm

    ME Me ME ME ME ME!!!

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/04/16 at 2:48 pm

    Tell you what: I’ll take on that job if, in return, you’ll scream at my kids for me; I’m tired of saying the same things over and over and over.

  • Bethface

    2009/04/16 at 2:49 pm

    Well I think you are perfectly lovely. So to balance all the hate that you are sent everyday here is something nice.

    You seem like a wonderful mother.

    Your beautiful!

  • teamSloan

    2009/04/16 at 2:49 pm

    This idea is fantastic. How does one apply? I will move my husband and I out to Utah JUST SO I CAN BE THE VOICE OF HEATHER B. ARMSTRONG and help you piss off even more people while also touching the lives of others. I realize this is a daunting task, one that I feel perfectly capable of fulfilling.

    Have I mentioned that I am outrageously animated, irreverent, and good-looking?


  • Kate

    2009/04/16 at 2:51 pm

    I love when you put specifics from your hatemail in a post. Hee!! Seriously- if you don’t like the site- MOVE ON!

  • Jennie C

    2009/04/16 at 2:52 pm

    RELAY CALLS!!! Hahaha – I completely forgot about those. I worked in a call center for 8 years and had probably a total of 10 relay calls. I had such a hard time with the first one because I was young and scared and didn’t know I couldn’t talk to the relay operator. She was so frustrated with me. “Don’t talk to me! Talk to the customer!” That was a very funny snippet for the day. Thanks – I needed that!!!

  • Caren

    2009/04/16 at 2:53 pm

    I wonder if the the relay operator had their BFA in acting & it was the only gig they could get. I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of conversations that person’s had to assist. I wonder if they’ve to sign a confidentiality agreement.

  • mediumcrazy

    2009/04/16 at 2:54 pm

    I would be so curious to see the expressions on the faces of these hate mail people. Are they pounding on their keyboards and feeling legitimate anger? Are they smirking and sneering and making cackling Gargamel sounds? Do they do this all the time? I mean, GAH…it’s so verbally abusive. Dooce you have a much thicker skin than I do. (And cooler hair.)

  • ann cannon

    2009/04/16 at 2:54 pm

    You were radiant at The King’s English last night. Fantastic job! And best of wishes.

  • Windy City

    2009/04/16 at 2:57 pm

    It’s about time we had another hate mail post, misspellings and all!

  • Carrie

    2009/04/16 at 2:57 pm

    I am in the process of working on my resume and demo tape.

  • Milla

    2009/04/16 at 2:59 pm

    PICK ME! PICK ME! PICK ME! i can growl. grrrrrrrrr. see?

  • wyliekat

    2009/04/16 at 2:59 pm

    “Since the ‘F’ word is your favorite, that is the grade I give your website.”
    RELAY: “You madam, have an F jutting from your website.”

    “You are so pathetic. I feel sad for you. I think you should change the name of your site to”
    RELAY: “I’m depressed and I think you should consider renaming your website to help me feel better.”

    “You are the reason why the government should be able to regulate who can have children. How tragic for your daughter.”
    RELAY: “I’m an unemployed bureaucrat looking to create my own position.”

    “Your nothing but a dirty piece of whiny drivel.”

    “Get a life idiot! You got fired for being a stupid whore!”
    RELAY: “Hi, I’m Donald. Donald Trump.”

  • Cindi

    2009/04/16 at 2:59 pm

    Jobless, living in SLC, loves to read, can pronounce CRAYON correctly (after living in the south for 4 years), funny, loves beer and is an amazing hugger. When do I start?

  • KAS

    2009/04/16 at 2:59 pm

    Job accepted. Thanks for the consideration and I look forward to working with you.

    Fuckin’ right.

  • Ann

    2009/04/16 at 3:01 pm

    You are a genius. Are you going to take applications soon? Now, THAT interview process would be FUN!

  • mama wants more

    2009/04/16 at 3:02 pm

    Someone needs to invent a device that automatically filters the negative comments so they never actually get to you–a hate mail spam blocker. The things you say make a difference to a lot of us moms out there so please ignore the idiots that simply don’t get it. Good luck on the job search.

  • Kate

    2009/04/16 at 3:03 pm

    I seriously don’t get where anyone comes off cussing you out for anything you say on here. You crack my Ass up…boring…???? I’ve yet too experience boring from you.

  • karishma

    2009/04/16 at 3:04 pm

    bwahahahaha. how amazingly awkward. but y’know, this is the entire reason i love you, that you can take something like this and MAKE A POST out of it that makes me laugh.

  • MB

    2009/04/16 at 3:04 pm

    I think you meant “You’re nothing but a dirty piece of whiny drivel.” Instead of “your.”

    I’ve rarely seen typos here.

    Cum laude. English. BYU.

    Good job!

  • Stephanie

    2009/04/16 at 3:04 pm

    While awkward at the time, being witness to weird situations is the best! I’m still shocked that people actually write hate mail. Don’t they have real lives and stuff to do? If only I had the time.

  • Phoo-D

    2009/04/16 at 3:05 pm

    Have you thought about compiling a hate mail book? I bet you have enough content and it could be a comedy, tragedy, and drama all wrapped in one. You just can’t make that stuff up!

  • MB

    2009/04/16 at 3:05 pm

    Oh. You were quoting your poorly-educated hate-mailers. I see.

  • Jen

    2009/04/16 at 3:06 pm

    All I can do is laugh right now.

  • Regina

    2009/04/16 at 3:07 pm

    I generally avoid the comment sections of websites. If your local “newspaper” were online at, you would, too. It is unbelievable the crap people will put in a comment.

    But my point here, is that it totally sucks that people have said those things to you in your comments and reading them totally made me want to give you a hug. Stay strong.

  • esmith

    2009/04/16 at 3:07 pm

    oh. my. shit. ahem, now that i’ve picked myself up off of the floor. what about getting your mom to fill the position?

  • Amy

    2009/04/16 at 3:08 pm

    Well – since the ‘F’ word is one of MY favorites, I’d just like to say that I think you’re FUCKING AWESOME! These hate mail posts always make me laugh 🙂

  • Katherine

    2009/04/16 at 3:08 pm

    Could that person read them to US? Just video your new employee as he or she reads the mail to you.

    Is it wrong I hoped that’s where this was going? I don’t want you to receive hate mail! But I do love when it’s shared. (And I enjoy your videos.)

    I’m sure a BYU drama student could use the cash. 🙂

  • Lindsey

    2009/04/16 at 3:09 pm

    Oh my god! I just told my girlfriend the other day that I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up”… I do! I can certainly deliver the hate mail with serious venom, I am just not sure I can keep from falling over in hysterics afterwards. It’s just so funny to me that they are so angry…..

  • Kristin A.

    2009/04/16 at 3:09 pm

    The last one is my favorite.

    I don’t know how you do it! i, too, wonder where they look like. i think it’s funny that they can get so worked up over a website/blog. arent there better things they can be doing? like pulling petals off daisies?

  • Dogmom

    2009/04/16 at 3:09 pm

    God, you crack me up. You dirty piece of whiny drivel.

  • Michelle

    2009/04/16 at 3:09 pm

    I can’t believe that people actually say that crap to you. If anyone harasses you about having kids, just send them to me. I have seven and I am pretty sure we say the F word around here 77 times as much as you do. But my husband is a fireman and I think it is in their training manual. Whenever they get together, it is a f word fest.

  • Jenae

    2009/04/16 at 3:09 pm

    It’s so sad that people feel the need to say such terrible things to someone…especially someone who is clearly being sarcastic

    I think your website is fantastic! I will always enjoy every bit of it as long as you keep writing.

  • Fae

    2009/04/16 at 3:10 pm

    Hm. I bet “” is already taken…

  • Jocey

    2009/04/16 at 3:11 pm

    Ooh, pick me! Just imagine all that hatemail being shouted at you in a Minnesotan accent.

  • Mary@Holy Mackerel

    2009/04/16 at 3:11 pm

    Well, I for one love your blog, and think you are a great mom, even when you don’t think you are.

    Obviously, these haters are too involved in their own selves to think too much about anyone or anything else.

    I would love to have one of these people working for me. Just think of the calm.

  • Lauren

    2009/04/16 at 3:12 pm

    Really??? They couldn’t find anything more constructive to do than send hate mail? Come on, people…if you don’t like the site, why do you stick around??? Leave more bandwidth available for those of us who do!!

  • Denise

    2009/04/16 at 3:12 pm

    Dooce, you are the best. I so wish I could write like you. But, since I can’t, I will continue to be a faithful reader of all your genius posts. Awesome.

  • cornbean

    2009/04/16 at 3:13 pm

    i drink beer and i’d be happy yo spit whatever you want.

  • Megs

    2009/04/16 at 3:14 pm

    I just started to read your blog! Its brilliant! So glad to find a real perspective from a real mother… nice to know I am not the only one!!

  • eva

    2009/04/16 at 3:15 pm

    “Whore” (why you got fired OBVIOUSLY) and “Bore” (what you are!) rhyme…there has to be something to that, no?

    In conclusion if you want a Canadian from your favourite Canadian city (Vancouver!) to read out hatemail and add in bonus Canuck-style excessive apologies please let me know.

  • Kirsten

    2009/04/16 at 3:16 pm

    I can’t believe that people can be so cruel. Whatever happened to if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. And if they do believe those things, why do they keep coming back? Don’t like something….don’t read it!

    I’m happy that you can take it all in stride. I don’t know if I could have as thick of skin.

  • sara

    2009/04/16 at 3:16 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog a few days ago and I have to say I love it. I very much appreciate your realistic view of motherhood and it gives me hope to know that I’m not the only one in this world that approaches it that way. I will most certainly keep reading!

  • Brenda

    2009/04/16 at 3:17 pm

    What confuses me most… shouldn’t your standard response simply be “Bite me, I figured out how to make money by pissing off losers like you who keep reading my site!”


  • CapreeK

    2009/04/16 at 3:19 pm

    First, let’s address the phrase “warm casserole fart”. I’ve never heard a more apt description of THAT SMELL in all my life. It seriously does smell like the collective explusion of the previous day’s funeral potatoes. All at once. By every person in that damn chapel.

    Secondly, I would love the job of relay operator. I’d like to think that I can spit my S’s and T’s with the best of them. Please consider this my formal application.

  • Amy

    2009/04/16 at 3:19 pm

    My brother was a relay operator! He will hook me up with training, I’m sure. Beers on me! Uh, when you’re done gestating, of course.

  • Mandy

    2009/04/16 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t think you’re required to acknowledge any comments/emails from anyone who can’t properly spell or tell the difference between you’re and your (or it’s and its). It’s a general rule I’ve acquired and would be happy to share it with you.

  • Funky Kim

    2009/04/16 at 3:19 pm

    Where do I apply?

    But I’d have to change one thing. Instead of going out for a beer afterwards, I prefer to go to the Tavernacle for a peartini. They’re divine!

  • Dani

    2009/04/16 at 3:20 pm

    Well now that’s a novel approach. I just got my very first angry comment on my blog today. At first I laughed because this person was clearly a kook but now it’s getting me down.

    I realy admire you for putting up with this stuff and at least atempting to laugh at it. It takes courage to keep putting your self out there.

    The internet loves you just ignore the kooks.

  • Mrs Soup

    2009/04/16 at 3:21 pm

    Brilliant!! I would apply in a HEARTBEAT! What a great job that would be!

1 2 3 9

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more