So the other day my good friend Glen posted a link online from a blog written by an actually successful writer. It’s called “How I knew I’d Made It” and is worth the read. But if you’re lazy or busy or have all your available tabs open on your phone and can’t possibly dream about closing one of them, I will summarize it for you. This guy, John Scalzi, who has written books and had them published and everything, said that the moment he knew he had made it was when he went to a gas station, filled up his tank, and drove away, for the first time in his life, without looking to see how much he had spent on gas. He had grown up poor and, as a result, had always known exactly how much he spent on every item because dealing with each day’s available money was sort of like a balancing act. He had to be sure that buying something now didn’t mean he couldn’t purchase something he needed later that day, week or month. Gas was a biggie. He had to figure out exactly how far he needed to go and estimate how much gas it would take to get there and, perhaps, back, and would ask the station attendant for things like $3.14 worth of gas. That day, driving away and not having accounted for every penny, was the day when he had finally allowed it to get through his head that he could afford things. That’s when he knew he had made it.
I have often joked that I would know I made it when I got a comment on this blog with a random, personal attack in it about my character or my appearance or something. I imagined it would come on one of my more political posts and would be something along the lines of “shut up you fat bitch no one would ever fuck you,” or something like that. I figured it would come from some weird dude in like, North Dakota or something, who spends too much time playing video games and maybe has a bad skin condition. I actually even had a long conversation with my brother, Aaron, about it. He had called to ask me my opinion on something and the conversation kind of wound its way everywhere, finally landing on the article I was working on for this online magazine I occasionally contribute to. It was an article about consent. We talked about it for awhile and then he said to me something along the lines of,
“Well, I think that is a really interesting approach to the issue but I have to tell you, one of these days you are probably going to end up getting linked to some MRA webpage or subreddit or something and there is going to be a whole shit storm. You should probably have a contingency plan.”
So we talked about it. It’s actually something I have thought about before. The more people read your blog, and admittedly I don’t have all that many readers, the more likely it is that someone who reads it will feel the need to send a nasty comment. It’s the law of numbers, or something. Anyway, we decided that the best approach would be to engage with the commenter if it seemed necessary, but not on the site of the repost, if my blog was indeed reposted, but on my own page where I have control. See, where I do believe in a democratic form of government, I do NOT believe in a democratic form of blog and therefore I have it set so I have to approve every comment before it appears on my page. I figured I could read through the comments I received and then make a clever take down of the person, if it seemed worthwhile, and then continue to moderate the comments. He thought that was good idea.
Well, it happened. I got my first mean comment this morning which was sent, I imagine drunkenly, at 2:30am and from a person I know. Here it is, from someone who called herself “Your Superior:”
“A pathetic article by a pathetic neurotic child. Pretty easy to discount the ramblings of a 30-something year old woman who, by her own admission, makes less than $2 an hour. See “Life–How to fail at it” for an accurate description of Rebekah Frank. As for the guys she’s referencing, they’re both highly accomplished fun charming attorneys worth a thousand of this pathetic “bartender”. LOL at “my bar”, you sad employee. You’re a failure. Live with it. You and your … boyfriend are a match made in heaven. Two losers commenting on those who actually have lives. Hahaha. Enjoy living on the crumbs successful people deem to bestow on you.”
I left out some of the choice words this person decided to use about my boyfriend because, as he said first thing this morning when I showed him the comment, “wow, that sucks but you put yourself out there.” That’s true, I did, but he didn’t. And I honestly don’t know what he has to do with any of this.
Alright so I went back and reread the post this commenter is referring to and, honestly, I was a little meaner than I needed to be. Especially about one of the guys, the guy who really wasn’t involved in any of it. It was the result of about 5 years of being subjected to the rudeness of his friend that came out and really, I should have been more responsible about it. To that person, I do apologize and I will edit the post accordingly.
As far as the rest of it? Well, this commenter is welcome to his own opinion. (Yes, I do know who the commenter is and no, I won’t tell.) But here’s the thing. The other day, my friend and coworker Liz said to me, “your blog is all about not being a jerk,” and you know what? When you boil it all down it really is. It’s about going through life and holding your own and trying to treat other people with respect. My blog is just a smattering of stories — some of them my own and some of them stories that land in the political sphere — where someone doesn’t treat someone else well and then I write about it. I never use names, unless that name is already in the public realm, like that of a politician or someone involved in a well-publicized sexual abuse scandal. A lot of the reason I write the blog, and most of the reason that I write the bartender posts (aside from wanting to entertain people) is because I am a human being and oftentimes those on the other side of the bar forget about that. I do not want to tend bar forever, although I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I know plenty of people who have made a career out of it and I have the utmost respect for them — it is not an easy road to toe. I just know that it wouldn’t make me happy. I worked this job while I attended, and graduated from, a master’s program and now I am still working it while I pay off my massive loans and plan the next move. I have met some incredible people, on both sides of the bar, and I do not regret one second of it. What I do regret, however, is that my idea of success — one tied up in being happy and making those around me happy — is one that is not recognized or valued by a lot of people. It is something I have struggled with my entire life. So, commenter, you think you are my “superior?” That’s cool. You think I’m a failure? Okay, that’s fine too. And “the crumbs successful people deem to bestow on me” educated me, pay my rent, and are sending me to Peru in a few weeks so, thanks to all of you.
Listen, I’m not perfect. I have done things that are not kind. And I am sure that if I went online and read something mean about my friends I would be angry about it also. But of course, my friends would also not treat people the way this person treated me, my coworkers, and countless other service professionals. They wouldn’t be my friends any more and I wouldn’t waste my time defending them at 2:30am.