This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

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 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.

  • You know, I don’t read every comment you have, but the vast majority seem to be nice and positive… perhaps the hate-mailers aren’t game to post comments, just email?

    Now, if you are happy to move to the Land of Oz, I would be delighted to help you out, Ms Heather!
    🙂
    BB

  • parrfunkel

    You’re f’in brilliant, Heather!

    I only discovered your blog after seeing you on Oprah last week. I’ve started reading from the beginning of your archives. You’re my new hero.

    Ok, moving on now.

  • Manda

    This summer I worked front desk at a hotel. It was the worst, I have never had so many people scream at me. I am going to be completely honest and say I am one of the nicest fucking people you will ever meet. So one day I get an angry phone call from a truck driver. He said we charged him double the amount he had been charged before. For the first time I wasn’t feeling sympathetic. So I said, “Sir, that’s because you stayed the first time during the winter, the second time during the summer. You were charged the summer rate”. That’s when he said, “You can take this bill and GO TO HELL!”. He hung up the phone, without letting me defend myself. What I really wanted to say back to him was, “Sir, I am the nicest fucking person ever. So fuck you!”

  • Amy J

    I find it really interesting the number of people that tell you (and other bloggers) to get a life, yet what brings them to the blog in the first place? Is it to read and then take the time, their precious, valuable, time to disparage another human being? Well F–K that!!!

    It was a pleasure to meet you last night. You are just as perfectly fabulous in person as you are on-line. I kept my husband up past 1 a.m. reading aloud from the book. Thanks for doing what you do.

  • Kari

    As a former receptionist myself, I would gladly read hate mail for money… better than listening to it for money. I’m more proud of the receptionist for not laughing. Go her!

  • I’d like to apply for the job. I am incredibly good at swearing with passion, and I’m local.

  • I like your wit, humor and honesty. I look forward to your posts.
    take care.

  • ChiGirl

    I just stumbled across your webpage a few weeks ago through Twitter, and I added it to my favorites that day. I’m a college student, and I find your posts hilarious! Your daughter sounds like she’s crazy in the best way possible, the way little kids are supposed to be. She’s lucky to have you as a mom, and you shouldn’t worry about the hate mail. For every bad letter you receive I’m sure you get 2 good ones along with it. They are funny to read, and after that long list of postings of support for you, I’m sure whoever took the time to write the hate mail feels pretty dumb right now. Keep writing, you inspire me.

  • Nicole

    People that say such things to you make my favorite word the F word as well. Fuck that…they are just so JEALOUS of you’re life and what you do to make a living. They are the people that can’t be happy for anyone else. THEY are the stupid whores.

    I heart your blog Ü

  • Heather, you should see the comments we get. Apparently, we “don’t know jack”, “have no business driving cars, let alone reviewing them” and are “idiots who can’t see past the cupholders”. I don’t think I could handle someone saying that to my face. I might weep. Or punch them. It wouldn’t be pretty.

    You’re braver than I, my dear.

  • Sus

    I am perfect for the job! I can totally call you a bitch, but then afterwards I will feel awful and we can kiss and make up….in a totally nonlesbian way, of course.

  • Oh my gosh, that was hilarious. I give this post an “F” as well… for FUNNY!!

    Hee hee.

  • Christy

    Heather –

    I know I am post 101 and you probably won’t read this but I had to tell you I love your blog and always have. I work in the Child Protection field and let me tell you – you are a F%#@ing AMAZING parent. The fact that Leta is raised by her own parents and not in child care is a gift. The fact that you see her every day and don’t have soemone else raising her is a gift to her. If I could work from home and devote most of my waking hours to my child I would do that in a HEARTBEAT. I am sure all those haters would too. They are just jealous Heather – don’t listen to ’em. Personally I think they post the hate comments so that you will comment on them and they can be talked about. That’s SAD!!!

    I LOVE reading your posts and I strive to be as good of a parent as you are. None of us are perfect, but the fact that your child has two very loving parents who devote their lives to her as well as the fact that you put a roof over her head and food on the table every night makes youa a better parent than a large portion of this country. Take it from me – I’ve seen it ALL!!!

    Keep your head up sister. We all love you!

  • I was interested while reading this story, but totally distracted because I was wondering why one would be so upset about a captioning incident when they were clearly able to hear over the phone.

    And that’s why I would make a great relay operator for you!

    Loved seeing you in Austin and so happy you made the trek to our little corner of Texas!

  • Gretchen Kirkham

    Umm…. the beer… is that one of the fringe benefits? You buyin’?

    Cuz… I mean, if it might in any way be up for negotiation, I might enjoy the occasional pitcher of sangria or margaritas. Or, after a particularly *angry* week, Yeager shots might be in order.

    I could do this job.

  • Talon

    . . .

    Dude…if you could package that and sell it, you’d be a millionare!!

    Forget writing, Heather Armstrong, the Woman who Fixed the Internets!!

    *fanfare*

  • I fix the internets with duct tape and spit.

    I could apply for your position but I how can I not giggle at some of the more creative euphimisms for female anatomy? Some of those words are my favorite words!

    Or, I’d work myself up and in the process I’d stop being able to control my abiliy to hold in gas. You don’t pay extra for musical interludes I’m sure.

  • Katie

    oh my.. i WAS a relay operator. for THREE YEARS! horrid job, it was. yelling at strangers could be fun though. listening to the operator in the next cubicle, someone’s 60 something year old grandmother tell some woman on the line how she is going to “give it to her” (with great lines such as: “good thing i’m deaf, so i won’t hear all your screaming..”) = kind of awesome in an awful way

  • Liz

    I’m Mormon and I know EXACTLY what you mean by the smell of a Mormon church. How does every Mormon church I’ve been to all over the world all smell the same? It’s incredible really.

    I’m sorry you have so many haters, but I’m so glad you do what you do.

  • ah, i was once a relay operator, too! and angela, it’s not “over” that you’re supposed to say; it’s “go ahead.” what an awful job.

    katie (118), were you also employed through MCI in northern california?

  • First of all, I am so sorry that people would ever write things like that to you. That aside, I am relieved that my husband is not the only one who turns his wardrobe inside out looking for his belongings. Do you also get to hear “Honey, where are my keys/wallet/phone?!” when: A) How the hell should I know, and B) They are in your POCKET!!

  • Why is it that bloggers are obsessed with the negative comments, yet choose to ignore the positive ones? Human nature I guess. I am guilty of the same thing.

  • Catherine

    Heather –
    thanks for making me laugh every day, all the way over here in Australia. don’t ever let the turkeys get you down!

  • Lisa

    No, don’t fix what is working for you….having something to blog about. 🙂 You life is your muse.

    It’s the difficult people in our lives that make us better! People with verbal diarrhea and don’t know it, are really funny! Besides, idiots who write hate mail are all about themselves…..not you!!!!

    I LOVE YOUR HATE MAIL!!! KEEP IT COMING!!!!!!

  • Got to love hate mail full of grammar errors and misspellings. Thank God for this post in the middle of my shitty day.

  • Traca

    Send her over when you are done to yell all the negative things I think of myself daily. Maybe I would be able to let them go eventually.

  • Jen

    I have never replied in the “comments” section on any online blog but… you have me rolling in stitches. I have been on bed rest and am nine months pregnant! I love you! Forget the hate mailers! They just don’t have anything to do with their lives.
    Keep writing what’s on your mind. It’s probably the same thing most of us think at some point but don’t have the balls to say! Good for you!

  • Meh hee hee…I was a relay operator in my youth…after dropping out of a theatre performance program at university, you KNOW I was dramatic and emphatic. I argued with relatives and swooned heartbreaking pillow talk…

    But I was never hateful. Never ever. Even if the person using the relay was nasty…that’s when I would bring out the professional, chirpy voice…takes the sting out. Oh, the powerrrrrrrrr.

  • You are an entirely new level of genius.

    All I do most of the day is deal with angry employees who hate the boss, hate the job, hate the life.

    I.Can.Emote.Dammit.

    Bless her heart, and your skills.

    Without such things, we would all be lost.

    XO

  • Being a relay operator ain’t for sissies……..

    Nor is being married to a patter………….

  • I think this is a great idea. I work in an office in a cubicle. My coworker who sits beside me makes quite a few phone calls a week like this. She is not a relay operator but she sure can relay that she’s angry. The rest of email each other while she’s on the phone trying to anticipate her next phrase, usually, “This is UNACCEPTABLE” wins!

    Cheers!

  • Cate

    I want the job. Seriously.

    Qualifications:

    Love you, love your blog, former opera singer (diction! projection!), live in SL Valley (an easy commute for me!).

    Plus – I need a second, part-time job, but possibilities for that just seems soul-crushing and overly consumptive of free/fun time.

  • I’ll take the job. I’m a high school teacher, so I’m used to having to shout, and read expressively, and I’m about to lose my current job any way.

  • Jillian

    GREAT TIMING- I’m sitting in my home office in Seattle, sending out my resume to supplement companies and planning my move to Utah in May or June. I was just taking a break to get my MIND OFF TRYING TO FIND A JOB THANKS!
    I’m excited to experience this smell you speak of, in addition to creating a map of any coffee shops that aren’t Starbucks.

  • Liz B

    There must be some sort of mix-up. Maybe the comments from some other blog are accidentally getting posted here. Those comments you listed have no basis in reality.

    And also, the captcha word combos often make awesome band names. Alistair Membership? I’d download it if it was the free song of the week on iTunes!

  • As usual, you are amazing! Thank you (once again) for the giggles!

  • Noelle

    OOOH!!! A book of hate mail!!! I would for shizzle buy that! AWESOME.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t listen to those people. You are my mentor and favorite person on the Internet. I call you my White Oprah. Because you are that awesome annndd you probably smell just as good. We are blessed to have another one of you soon entering the world 🙂

  • ellen

    Heather,

    hang in there. I read your website everyday and I thoroughly enjoy the wit, spontaneity, and record of the bumps in the road, both big and small. It helps me take myself less seriously. I wish there were a way you could only read the positive comments! seriously though, you have a fresh perspective and deal with reality of life and being a mom and there is a reason your blog is numero uno. I don’t know why people direct negativity your way, but it is completely undeserved. That is the aspect I like least in the internet: (and dear lord, i love the internet) people are much quicker to shoot off something mean and hateful. Something they would never have the manners or balls to say to your face if they actually had the opportunity.

    Best,

    Ellen

  • mare

    I will work for beer :-p

  • amos

    i just wish, for the love of pete, that if people are going to attempt to sound remotely intelligent while dishing out an “insult” (if you will give them even that much credit) that they had at least a few more brain cells to puke out the right word useage and spelling.
    my punctuation and lack of caps excluded. there’s a difference. i actually do have a brain, i just don’t have to use it all at all times.

    i honestly can say, i’d like to round up every person that spells things like this:

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

    and bitch slap them all until they understand this whole concept.
    i actually feel anger rise, my blood pressure climbs upward, my muscles tense, my jaw locks because people that spell like that, infuriate me and apparently i cannot round them up and bitch slap all of them, so i just have to remind myself that at least i can properly use “your” vs. “you’re” at any given time, without a second thought, on the spot, just ask me. they have to live day in and day out with this apparent ineptitude, while i can smugly kick back and say, “you’re just too damn smart for your own good sometimes.”

    good luck with this application process. i can only imagine what interview day would be like with all that spitting. i’ll pass.

  • If nothing else, you can set up a function similar to YouTube’s comment reader. 🙂

  • Molly

    I think you are hilarious and I can only imagine how great it would be to have a mom like you! Sorry for all the hatemail you get…people suck!

  • Katie

    hey laura c/120.. i was employed through CSD (they took over from vista shortly before i started working there) in western mass… god i do not miss those days! especially having deaf people treat you like shit, or the hearing person they are speaking to you saying rude things about your because it is “funny” that you have to type awful things about yourself

  • Oooh! Pick me, pick me! I have brilliant delivery! Ex-theatre major over here!!!

  • Katie

    also, dooce.. if you REALLY want an operator to do this for you.. you can go to sprintip.com and make an internet relay call to your own phone and type to them whatever you would like them to say huzzah!

  • Can I please have this job? I have anger management issues and would love nothing more than to yell all day long. Plus the added bonus of going out for a beer afterward sounds like fun.

  • Anonymous

    didn’t you forget “and oh PS I’m skinny” ?

  • You have some of the loveliest readers. When, and if, those hate mailers get to you, all you need to do is run your eyes along your comments page.

    But, as you seem to enjoy the abuse, are you considering international candidates? I have perfect diction.

  • Lizzy

    I don’t think I want that job because I would be a raging alcoholic if I had to listen to people yell at me all day. Oh wait, I am and I do… I have three kids, yo.

    By the way, in my parts of the world the Mormon church would smell like a “covered dish” fart.