March 1st, 2007

It's Like We're All Grown-Ups in a Charlie Brown Cartoon

“Talk is cheap,” a friend said to me yesterday. “Anyone can say anything—and it means nothing.”


Okay, so she’s going through a tough time. (Boys! Is there nothing they can’t complicate?) But it got me thinking.


She’s kinda right.


Up till recently—it occurred to me just the other day—I’ve been incredibly lucky to have mostly forthright people in my life. Aside from the boys I had crushes on in junior high (and, let’s be honest—who among us can ever figure out what a guy is thinking, anyway?), everyone was pretty straightforward and easy to understand. But now my friends and acquaintances are liberally sprinkled with people who are less than totally forthright; who say they are going to do things and then don’t do them; whose actions contradict their words, over and over and over again; who commit sins of commission and omission—saying one thing and meaning another, or not saying things that need to be said.


Case in point: in one office that I know, a lovely, devoted worker was fired yesterday. When the worker wondered aloud if everyone in the office would know about the firing, the firer said, “Well, you can resign instead.” Which the worker did.


It’s not my place to say whether the termination was deserved or not. All I can say is: this worker had a satisfactory job review just last month. And received a raise.


This is but the latest incident in a chain of weirdnesses at this office. There’s back-stabbing there. There’s plotting. There’s two-facedness. There’s outright lying.


Last night I dreamt that I cut all ties with this office, and someone asked me why. In my dream, I frowned and looked off into the distance. (Oddly, in my dreams, I don’t often inhabit my body, but watch the action from outside it. Schizophrenia, anyone?) After a long, long pause, I said at last, “I’d try to explain it, but you wouldn’t believe me.”


The idea that words are meaningless is certainly not a wholesome one for a writer to fixate on. But I’m at a point where I can’t even find the words to describe how I’m feeling. It’s not disappointment, because in order to be disappointed, you have to have hopes of something better—and from this office, I certainly do not. It’s not disillusionment, because I had no illusions in the first place. But it’s something like disappointment and disillusionment, and it’s no fun.


Enough slogging through this week’s emotional morass. Here’s an entertaining story about the craziness of people to bring us all up.


I had an odd little editor once—the kind who asked me for tips on finding more freelance work. (Once he also asked me for suggestions on romantic places to take a date. I wanted to say, "If you can't figure that out for yourself, maybe you shouldn't be dating." I mean, honestly! He doesn't have guy friends he can ask these things?) We spoke recently and—after he’d asked me for contact info from a place where he hoped to get more freelance work—he mentioned that he’d given my email address to a local columnist, who was also interested in getting more freelance work. (Note to self: dress less like an employment agency.)


Here is the wildly entertaining email I at last got from said columnist:


“I was referred by [odd little editor].

I am a seasoned journalist [and] write for some 20+ pubs across the country. I am always on the hunt for more!

[Odd little editor] thought you might have some leads for me regarding other freelance possibilities. I have 20+ years of experience and write about everything from celebrity interviews to columns…

He mentioned [newspaper I write for], which I never heard of.

Thanks for any help.”


I don’t know about you, but this email raised several questions for me. Such as:


  • So, Seasoned Journalist, why don’t you use your journalism skills to hunt down your own new markets?
  • Was it really so important to mention that you’d never heard of the little paper I write for?
  • Especially since IT’S A SISTER PUBLICATION of the little paper your column runs in?  


I guess it’s true, talk may be cheap. But I guess it’s also true—sometimes the price is right!

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