Carolyn Sackariason: Rants of the entitled have special place in a reporter’s inbox
I have a folder in my email box labeled “rants” and it is saved for special messages from special readers.
I recently moved a couple over from my inbox, while patting myself on the back for being the bigger person and not taking the bait that would have only led to more vitriol.
It took all of my being to refrain from responding to this entitled a-hole, who like many people similar to him, think I work for them.
Journalists, especially in small communities like Aspen, are just one rung below elected officials when it comes to being lashed out at with criticism at just about every turn.
It’s why I often walk in the alleys downtown and go to the grocery store at 6 a.m., so I can avoid people stopping me and bitching about whatever it is that I recently wrote about.
The difference between me and elected officials is that I don’t have to defend myself like they do, since they are the ones making the decisions; I am just simply reporting on what they decided.
But regardless, people can’t help themselves in pointing out how I could’ve written the article differently, or why didn’t I answer the question they have.
I got hit with that criticism at 7 a.m. in spin class last week when a woman was all up in arms over a story I wrote about the city of Aspen’s new program to require commercial building owners to report and eventually reduce their energy use.
Don’t shoot the messenger, I said. Now let me exercise in peace for God’s sakes. My heart rate went a little higher during that class, I must say.
I recognize that the job I took is a public one and being criticized is part of it, but that doesn’t mean I have to take the abuse leveled at me like I did from the aforementioned entitled a-hole.
I would name him but I’m trying to remain professional; I’ve probably gone too far by calling him an entitled a-hole but since you are reading this, thankfully my editor was OK with it.
I pawned this guy off on him, so I think he knows it’s an accurate description.
The disrespectful dude is primarily a West Palm Beach resident and believes he is God’s gift to Aspen, since he and his rich friends grace our community with their presence and wallets.
He literally said that without people like him, this town would be dead. I argue that it’s because of people like him that our town has died.
My tumultuous relationship with this guy started this past summer when he left me a couple of voicemails and emails about his perceived mismanagement of the municipal golf course.
I called him back, not fast enough apparently, and so I let him know that my tolerance for BS is fairly low and then I listened to him and made some calls to the higher-ups in City Hall to get to the bottom of his accusations, which were really just complaints.
Fast forward four months and this guy leaves me a voicemail on my cellphone during my dad’s funeral.
I returned to work a week later and in my email inbox was this message:
“Carolyn, i’ve left you a number of messages asking you to give me a call. I’m surprised that I have not heard from you. You are supposed to be an objective reporter that reports news and investigate stories. I would appreciate a phone call from you. If you choose not to call me, that’s your choice. But then I will call the editor of the newspaper. Sorry for my attitude. But this is a job you took on. And it’s your responsibility to talk to anyone interested in a matter that concerns City Of Aspen.”
Normally I would pick up the phone and let him know just exactly what my job is, with some choice words intermixed.
I think it was my father’s death that subconsciously I chose to pass on this one, because life is too short and I didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with this kind of person.
I wrote him back and said, “I have forwarded your message to my editor, David Krause. You will be hearing from him at some point.”
He shot back, “I guess you got fired after the buyout for lack of ability to do your job.”
That’s just not how anyone should talk to another person, or at least, true Aspenites don’t talk to one another like that.
He isn’t the first in hoping I get fired and certainly won’t be the last. But I don’t work for them, I work for my community and I cover the real issues facing it, which are many.
When my bosses no longer think that’s the mission of the newspaper, then they can fire me.