‘You’re an idiot’: A lost opportunity
A few days away, and 573 e-mails greet my return to the office. Most of them wanting to sell me some Viagra or a larger appendage. Or both. Our anti-spam system, I’m afraid, is about as effective as Homeland Security at the Mexican border.
I scan the junk mail that is often disguised as a reader note with headings such as, “Hi,” or, “Urgent,” or “Looking for Some Fun?” and get straight to the business stuff.
“You’re an idiot,” reads the first piece of business stuff. No greeting. No signature. Just three and a half words (I count “You’re” as one and a half words).
It appears to be from someone named Ed, so I reply with a, “Dear Ed: Thanks for the note, but I know you can do much better. How about this, for example: ‘Dear Mr. Ackerman (or Jeff): You are an idiot and let me count the ways … .” Then, Ed, you can get down to some constructive criticism, since nobody wants to go through life as an idiot. It’s so … incomplete. It’s like walking around with your zipper down and nobody telling you, Ed. You know the feeling. I’m sure you’ve walked out of the house with your zipper down before, haven’t you? For all I know, Ed, your zipper is down right now.
“Made you look!
“So, anyway, Ed. I’m guessing from your note that you don’t like me. We’ve never met, so I suspect it was something I wrote that got your Fruit of the Looms in a bunch today. I’m not saying you’re wrong, mind you. I went to Disneyland this week and it was 102 degrees in the shade. I must be an idiot to do something like that, don’t you agree, Ed? But you know how kids are. When they want to go to Disneyland, there’s no stopping the little critters.
“Maybe, Ed, you think I’m an idiot because you don’t agree with what I have written in a column, or two, or three. As that folk singer back in 1968 wrote, ‘Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong,’ or something like that. On the other hand, maybe you’re just smarter than the Average Joe, Ed. And that’s why I’m writing to you. We just don’t have enough smart people around here (contrary to recent statistical information), and there’s a greater expectation when one surfaces.
“You had a chance to really shine and … Ed … I’ve got to say … you really disappointed me with the ‘You’re an idiot’ take. My kids can do better than that. Even on a bad day, Ed. So help me out. String a few more words together and approach it as you might approach, say, a lobster dinner. One bite at a time, slowly chewed and savored. You have my e-mail address and you might even come down to the office for a personal visit. My door is open, Ed. And … if you happen to have some Viagra sitting around collecting dust, bring it along. I’ve got to get these spammers off my back once and for all. Best personal regards, Jeff Ackerman.”
That out of the way, I had a few minutes to reflect on my past several days away. I’ll skip the slide show and get straight to the summary notes of the Ackerman Family Summer Vacation 2004.
July 14-17 – Queen Mary, Long Beach:
• Here for two nights as Dad attends newspaper conference.
• Ship never moves. Not even up and down. Smog leaks through porthole window in our cabin.
• According to tour guide, there are 600 ghosts on the Queen Mary. Most of them are dead. Some of them drowned. Others died from seasickness. Others still succumbed to the ship’s coffee. The tour guide says he talks to a couple of them every day. The tour guide looks crazier than a fruitcake.
• Dad lost below deck for three hours while family spends $200 in gift shop. Dad finally uses cell phone to call for help. Too late to rescue credit card.
• Dad eats Philly sandwich and runs two miles around the ship looking for a restroom. Dad makes note to skip Philly sandwiches unless he’s in Philadelphia.
July 17-19 – Disneyland, Anaheim:
• Dad’s favorite ride is the freeway between Long Beach and Anaheim. Dad makes note to open spray-paint booths along freeway. Every inch of space has been sprayed at least twice by various youth organizations.
• Dad’s second favorite ride is the ESPN Zone bar and grill. Dad picked up another T-shirt and a cold beer.
• Ackerman Family waits until temperature tops 100 and yells, “Let’s go on some rides!” Dad clutches water spray bottle and pours it over his head as he waits 55 minutes to ride rocket ship of some sort. Rocket ship ride lasts 30 seconds. Kids want to go again.
• Ackerman Family gets Fast Pass to Hollywood Hotel Tower of Horror, or something like that. Dad not expecting to drop 10 stories in elevator while tying son’s shoes and gets relapse of previous Philly sandwich episode. Kids want to ride again.
• Dad spends $20 to win $2 stuffed animal. Look on Dad’s face … priceless.
• Dad wonders how Goofy can survive in 110-degree weather with all that fur. Dad hopes Goofy is well-paid.
• Dad likes Pirates of the Caribbean … a lot. Damp caves good place to be in July. Dad asks if he can stay inside pirate cave while wife and kids collect Disney pins. Family denies request.
• Dad’s head pounds after 150th verse of “It’s a Small World.” Asks Goofy for aspirin.
• Dad wonders why Walt didn’t take his monorail system to state transportation officials back in 1959. Mom says it’s all about the oil.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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