Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Smarty pants

I'm filling in on the wires today at work (that would be at a newspaper). The phone rang. It was a double ring, which means an outside call. Uh-oh. It was an old man. He wants the nation/world desk, which is me. He calls me Robby because he misunderstands my name.

He says "Listen, I know that (some country I forgot the name of) and Burma both changed their names a while back. (Country that I forgot the name of) changed it to (XXX), but what did Burma become?"

That's it? That's all he wants to know!?! Because I KNOW that! I only know about a dozen facts, and that's ONE of them!

"Myanmar!" I tell him proudly. And then I help him spell it.

"You're a very smart young lady," he tells me. (But how does he know if I'm young?) Here's the thing you know if you work for a newspaper: when a reader calls, the chances are good that you're just going to be informed about how stupid you are. So when a reader calls and is nice to you and tells you you're smart, it's great!

I'm not criticizing our readers. We love our readers. They are the reason we have jobs. It's just that there are SOME who are kind of mean. Like the person who saved up several months worth of papers and circled every mistake he/she could find and scribbled across them angrily to prove how dumb we all are.
Only, the thing is that the person was wrong. It's OK to start a sentence with "and" or "but." The grammar experts agree on this. This was 99% of what the person was angry about, but there was no way to contact the person and let him/her know.

So, I'm here to say thank you, Mr. Caller, for letting me be smart for a minute and telling me that! It makes my work day.

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