|"And stop wearing your MBA like some sort of third-world Generalissimo. Christ already." -- excerpt from an e-mail from cardhouse.com|
Visitors from the future: This turned
into kind of a Theme Week, the theme being Carol Feltman. Following
the five links below, and then the "next entry" links, might
make navigating this week a little easier.
Well, this week was somewhat of a blur for me, a kind of impromptu Theme Week, but it was fun and I hardly had to do any writing of my own. To everyone who wrote in: You all rule.
One thing I should mention: Many people took issue with the fact that four of the seven blurbs promoting Ms. Feltman's book on her website (found here) were written by what appear to be members of her family. This fact pissed readers off to no end. (By the way, these blurbs appear not only on her site but on the back of her book.)
Now, I can see the possibility of humor in posting blurbs written by family members, and I've seen this device used before on other books. Carol, or at least her family members, don't really put it to good use, however, because they are just normal blurb-sounding quotes, but I suppose I see what she was trying for, sorta. In fact, I was recently going to put a blurb from my mom at the top of my site, a blurb in which she complained about my Henchman of the Week feature (she doesn't think they're that funny and doesn't even bother reading all of them, she informed me), but I can't find her e-mail. Perhaps I deleted it in a blinding fit of Oedipal rage.
Speaking of henchmen, I was thinking that we didn't have time for one this week, but my friend Ken mentioned that Carol fits the bill pretty well. I mean, between Oddjob and Carol, who would you rather meet in a dark alley?
And, speaking of blurbs, a reader named Tom sent me this link to a page that lists raves for another book. One of the raves is written by Der Feltmeister herself, and contains the enigmatic phrase: "...we decided things with a knippel."
Tom, wondering just what the hell a knippel was, went the extra mile, and found out from this page.
"K'nippel - Button, knot; hymen, virginity; money tied in a knot in a handkerchief."
"Avoiding the huge amount of incredibly rude and possibly libelous things I could now make up, I want to know more! What's this about? What? How?"
Personally, Tom, I don't want to know more, I don't want to know what, and I most certainly don't want to know how.
Okay, I think that about wraps things up for now. This week was fun! We should do it again sometime. Hell, I got me a whole stack of crappy temping books I have yet to review! Let's attack someone else real soon. You know, we still need to do something about that Spencer Johnson problem...
I'll let you know if I hear back from Carol. Thanks to everyone who wrote in this week, particularly Ms. Feltman, without whom none of this would have been possible. And, special thanks to Nikki, who gave me the book which spawned the review which led to the e-mail which begat the responses... well, you get it. See you Monday, peeps, and I'll leave you now with some more e-mail excerpts.
From Ed (a female Ed)
"Bah! Moron. She needs to be smacked. I have a feeling I know exactly her type... and heaven help me if I ever have to work with her."
From Carol (no, not that Carol):
"trash the bitch!"
"What a miserable life she must lead, eh Chris? Be kind to her."
"...we should recommend that she makes a psychotherapy appointment to sort these issues out..."
"I have to go to hire a temp for a receptionist while I go away for vacation. I hope I get one like you who may screw up a few calls but is much easier to deal with than one of Karolís minions."
[Er... thanks? - Chris]
"I think Carol and the woman from [maryromantic] should get together and compare notes. Both of them provoke the same response from me: (waves finger near head) Cuckoo! Cuckoo!"
"i hope she writes back to you because i'd like to hear more 'illegal narcotics'-induced 'wit.'"
[After a stream of profanity in response to Carol's objection to offensive language] "I'm actually very surprised that companies would let her [write down everything in a log]. Security reasons aside, I'd be scared she's a psycho postal worker."
From (a different) Joe:
"The point I think you're missing, though, is not that this woman is an irritating blight on every office within five miles of her home. Rather, it's that she's WRITTEN A BOOK! To TEACH OTHER PEOPLE TO BE LIKE HER! Her embroidery and her smug acceptance of all things prim are not the danger here- her words are! Soon, there will be more like her!"
[No worries. My "followers" could take on hers any day. - Chris]
"I've been reading your site for awhile now. I must have missed the part when you were President of an HMO. What's something like that pay?"
From (a different) Brian:
"How did she come to the conclusion that you were THE decision maker for a large company, although I feel you could handle such a position based on your writings and ideas."
[Wrong. But thanks! - Chris]
"What a dumb bint (English expression - means the same as "broad") this "Carol" chick is, anyway!! I'm sending an email to her, too."
"This chick is (as we say in australia) OFF HER CHOPS."
"I have seen the face of fear -- and her name is Carol Feltman."
From (a different) Chris:
"Its a very good thing that she doesn't read the rest of your website. Otherwise you might receive a 12 volume set of books written by her in an attempt to tell you what's wrong with your life. When in reality, she needs to start using that fine toothed comb on herself."
From Nancy (my sister):
"I think Carol is just an idiot, that can be the only explanation for her email. What a wack-job. Maybe she doesn't get enough sex from Gordon or something."
(If you're just tuning in, this is all in response to this e-mail, which was in response to this review. For the past two days I've been posting reader responses to that response. Today, my response. To that response.)
First of all, thanks for your e-mail! It spiced up what was promising to be an otherwise dull week.
When I first saw it in my inbox, I thought: Uh-oh. I mean, I had panned your book and made snap judgments about your personality on my website, and here you were, writing to me. I felt slightly embarrassed and a little guilty. Kind of like when you get caught talking about someone behind their back (not that I'm saying you do that).
When I actually read your e-mail, guilt and embarrassment quickly gave way to confusion. I really, honestly, had no idea what you were talking about.
So, I showed it to a friend. She couldn't make heads or tails of it.
Then, I showed it to about ten more of my friends. They scratched their heads as well.
Then, I showed it to roughly twelve hundred strangers.
I guess you may have heard from some of them. I know I did (the number of responses I've gotten from my readers, or "followers", as you call them, hit triple-digits this afternoon), and many explanations for your e-mail were offered, some angry, some disgusted, and more than a few suggesting you were under the influence of illegal narcotics when you wrote it.
The most logical explanation for your e-mail might stem from this passage, found in my review of your book:
This, I believe, may be what you were getting at. That you've worked with people like me many times over the span of your temping career. Why, exactly, you cast me as your boss in your scenarios, I do not, and may never, fully understand (unless you write back). Many readers of my site have suggested that you only read my review of your book, and did not delve deeper to find clues to my personality or even discern that I am also a temp, and not a supervisor or middle-manager or President of an HMO. I don't have a problem with this. I see no real reason for you to have read my entire site before deciding what kind of a person I am, after all, I don't know you either. I've only read your book, and yet I saw fit to label you as "A very stubborn, anal, fussy, know-it-all temp." But we'll get to that in a bit.
Another sore spot may have been the fact that I cast aspersions at you, and indeed all women, with comments about giving bad directions and puttering around antiques stores. This, I agree, was insulting and chauvinistic, although I should mention that most of the reader e-mails I've gotten are from women, and none have (yet) complained about those comments.
Now, I'd like to address a few specific passages from your e-mail, if I may.
"...thank you for plugging my book. My stats show that there is traffic coming from your site to mine."
You're welcome! I'm glad you are pleased with the traffic you are getting from the link in my extremely unfavorable review of your book. I also suspect the traffic may have increased slightly over the past few days. Hope you get some sales out of it!
"Oh, Chris, how mad you got when I bowed low from the waist and put my arm up protecting my forehead and said in a tearful voice: "Don't hit me no moah, massah, I be good! Please, massah, don't hit me no moah!"
If this had actually happened, I most certainly would have been mad, for I am a proud, black man, and I wouldn't have appreciated you making light of the plight of my ancestors. In all seriousness, this was the one part of your e-mail that I found personally sickening. Maybe it's common these days to make fun of slavery, but I don't find it funny.
Er, Carol, don't read this part in parenthesis: (Note to my readers: I am neither proud nor black, but she might not know that! Tee hee! I am basically a man, though.)
"You of all people ought to know how important my needle and thread were."
Hey, in my review I admitted that bringing a needle and thread was a good idea, so I'm not sure why that's being thrown in my face.
"Wasn't it you who borrowed it to sew up your fly when the zipper popped open just before you were going "on stage" with the customer? Not that I imagine there was all that much to see."
Oh, that's why. So you could make fun of the size of my di-- er... the size of my pee-pee, to use a term that hopefully will not offend you. It's kind of heartening, in a way, to see you take such a cheap shot. Nice one!
Hm. There's about six other passages I'd like to respond to specifically, but I'm way down the page at this point, so I suppose I should address your claim that you are not fussy. I really thought about it. A lot. At one point, it occurred to me: maybe she's not fussy after all. Maybe she's just... principled.
As a temp, I certainly have principles. I won't fetch people coffee. I won't run for a bus. I won't miss a cigarette break. I won't wash my work clothes unless I can see those wavy stink lines coming off them.
These are my little rules, my principles, and I stick to them. Just as you stick to yours.
So, I thought: I guess we're both just temps with principles.
Or, and this thought made me bolt upright in the middle of the night, sweating, nearly screaming, almost knocking the prostitute off the bed... maybe Carol and I are both fussy.
Is there really a difference between principles and fussiness? Am I fussy? Could I be fussy? Am I the pot calling the Carol black? (That's not a racial comment).
I needed an answer, stat, and I found it in your e-mail.
Let's say one of my principles, like yours, was to never work in an office where people smoked (and I'm reeeeeally stretching the imagination here, boy howdy, I would love to smoke at work). If questioned about it, if asked why I refused to work in an office where people smoked, I think my answer would be:
"Because it makes me smell like cigarette smoke."
Whereas your answer would be something along the lines of what you said in your e-mail, which was this:
"While I'm on the subject of signs, I have another one that I embroidered and put in a little wooden frame. It's a small green frog with a pathetic face sitting on a lily pad saying: "If you smoke, I might croak." I'm sure there have been assignments where people who didn't usually smoke walked past my desk with a cigarette just to see what I'd do. I typically got up very quietly, walked over to them and asked them to sign my time sheet -- for four hours, minimum. Then I'd take my purse, my Survivor's Kit, my coat, and I'd go home. (Home was never more than 5 miles away because that was the outer limit of my work area.)
I never took an assignment without being assured that I'd be in a smoke-free environment. The agents had a tough time swallowing it, but they finally realized that I wasn't kidding. They learned not to send me anywhere and tell me to "see how it goes." Because if it doesn't go well, if somebody lights up, I go home!"
I realize this may not be a truly fair analysis, but I think it still works. I think I see the difference between having principles and being fussy.
Why don't I fetch coffee? Because it's annoying. Why don't I run for the bus? Because I'm not in a hurry to get to work. Why won't I miss a smoke break? Because I'm helplessly addicted to nicotine. Why won't I wash my clothes? Because I'm a lazy disgusting slob. See! Principles are simple! I don't shove them in people's faces. I don't revel in them. I don't roll in them like a dog rolls in a pile of sh-- er... a pile of poo-poo. If someone tries to get me to break them, perhaps by asking me to wash my clothes, I just say "Nah." I don't feel the need to make embroidered signs.
This, I think, is the difference. You are fussy, Carol. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, you're good at it! Just like I'm good at, you know, uh... wearing dirty clothes, I guess. Um. Yeah.
Oh, one other thing from your e-mail:
"Sweetie, you're missing the point."
When people who don't know me call me things like "Sweetie" or "Sugar", it's a little condescending. Actually, it's extremely condescending. It's like you're talking to a child. Sure, I'm immature. Sure, I have the upper-body strength of a toddler. Sure, I have the tendency to burst into tears at the slightest inconvenience. But I'm not a child. So don't call me "Sweetie."
Or, maybe I'm just being fussy. What do you think, hon?
P.S. I do really like the word "shmoo."
As Cecil Adams has his Teeming Millions, as Dave Barry has his alert readers (and Stephen King, his gentle ones), I now have...
E-mails are still screaming out of the trench. Read on.
"Man, is she bipolar or something?"
"Well, it's bloody irritating whatever she is on about."
like Ms. Feltman] were universally despised by both the contractors and
the clients, they rarely had their contracts renewed and they were never
offered a full time position. And, bringing her own office supplies
- how anal can you get. She just doesn't get it - the client
site is where you get your own office supplies. I've still
got staplers, staples, paper clips, etc from clients I worked for twenty
"To quote the website of "Frau Feltman": "Humorous chapters cover everything from "temp to perm" jobs to nightmare assignments such as "employees only" bathrooms." Huh? Shouldn't that read "...nightmare assignments such as _those with_ 'employees only' bathrooms."? Or are we supposed to get career advice from a book clearly written by a crazed control freak who takes assignments involving toilet cleaning?"
"...just wanted to let you know - when you try to send Ms. Carol an email on her site, the subject line has been filled in for you... so efficient and well organized."
"Carol! PUT....THE STAPLER....DOWN! Sheesh, what is WRONG with that woman?"
"Cash back refinances
From Samwise (written to Ms. Feltman, copied to me):
"And here you are, advocating taking time and effort to make it known that a boss had you do his busywork. What does he think, that you work for him or something? It's his privilege to not do his busywork, and everyone at the office knows it. Except the temp, apparently."
"A bitter temp?! There's something you don't see every day!"
(I see one every day, in my mirror WAHH HA HA HA. Er. Sorry. -chris)
"...does she actually think you're a boss and not a temp? Where did she get any of these ideas?"
"Her smug pseudo-clever response to your review shows what kind of person she really is."
"This Feltman chick is wack."
"I think that letter was the result of smoking crack AND watching too many episodes of 9 to 5, after which some form of retardation set in."
"God, that lady is messed up."
"She is...what am I looking for here...unwell works I think."
"Her writings are very much like a Zen Riddle - to those who have not attained the enlightened state in which Ms. Feltman resides, our feeble simian brains cannot comprehend the mysteries which she has unraveled."
And, this from Kevin:
"have you ever considered discussion groups for the site? Either a web board, or an NNTP/usenet/news hierarchy?"
Yes, actually. I've been thinking about it for some time, and although I have no idea what NNTP is, judging from the many voices crying out as one over the past two days, I should find some way to let you all talk to each other. I'll see what I can do about setting up a discussion board.
Thanks again for all the mail, everyone! This is fun. Sorry to paraphrase everyone so badly, because there were some really well-written e-mails in there, and it was hard finding just a sentence or two to pull out.
Dang, seems my response will have to wait another day! Oh, and I'd better hurry because I got this today, too.
From: Carol Feltman (Subj: More grist for your mill)
Hello again Chris, I can't believe the foul language that some of your followers need to use to express themselves. That's something else I wouldn't have put up with. Looking forward to your promised response. With kindest regards, Carol.
Swell. Now I have two e-mails to respond to. Thanks a lot, you potty-mouthed "followers"!
Well. I'm just tickled.
I've never, ever, ever gotten so many e-mails from readers in a single day.
There's just something about that Carol Feltman. She really gets inside you. Or, under your skin, at least.
If you missed yesterday's update, you can either scroll down or click here to read it. It concerns an e-mail from Ms. Feltman, which was in response to my review of her book, TEMP.tation.
The opinions about that e-mail have been pouring in almost as fast as I can read them. Some excerpts:
"I fucking hate that smug, superior tone she took. Hey lady!! Screw you!"
"Obviously she thinks you're someone who hires temps, and not a temp yourself. Which obviously means she didn't bother to read your site. So obviously she was too busy filing out work logs or sharpening her pencils (brought in from home, no doubt), or reforming all the bosses in the five-mile circumference surrounding her trailer, or feeling oh-so-fucking-smug-and-clever writing her email, to do even an ounce of research."
"[Carol Feltman] has obviously not read any portion of your site other than the part which deals specifically with her "book." I'd like to borrow her needle and thread and sew her eyelids -- probably covered in trailer-park blue shadow -- shut."
"She's on crack. That's the only explanation. I'm thinking her e-mail would be funny if I could figure out what the hell she's trying to say."
[Subj. Line: I know who Carol Feltman is!] "She's that woman in the left lane of the highway who's primly going EXACTLY the speed limit while dozens of people going a decent speed are dashing themselves against her back bumper and then having to disrupt the flow of traffic by jockeying around her because she refuses to get over into the right lane. Why? Because she's going the speed limit, gosh darn it, and it's her God-given Duty to teach the rest of us that speeding is Wrong. Even cops hate this woman, because she single-handedly increases the rate of road rage by gumming up the works for no other purpose than to get everyone to behave the way she wants. Ooooh, I hate her so very, very much."
From Jesse (with the excellent Subject line: "Helter Feltman")
"...does she HONESTLY think that the job of temping should include TEACHING PEOPLE MANNERS?? Not to say that I haven't wanted to from time to time, but come ON. People are people, and most are the way they are because that's how they like it. Accept that now, Feltman, and spare yourself endless frustration and wasted effort later. You're not a teacher, and they're no longer in third grade. Physically, anyway."
"Jesus Christ!!!! Is that woman for real?"
"What is she talking about? What is she smoking? Where can I get some?"
"I think it's particularly funny that she places you as her bosses as opposed to another temp. Although I would think she was too busy writing down bits about you in her "log" to understand what she was reading."
"It's funny, though, as I was reading the letter, I was really amazed at how incredibly fucking bitter she is about the whole thing. For someone who apparently (I have not read the book, nor do I ever plan to, unless trapped on an airplane stuck in taxi for twelve hours and the choice is read the book or be eaten by air-rage-fueled fellow passengers) writes a lighthearted book about temping, she seems to be a bit rancorous about her temping experiences."
"...she just doesn't get the fact that you aren't a middle manager. Or if she does, she must think that she is mighty clever in turning the tables on you, making YOU the butt of your own humor! What a genius!"
"Good god, that woman has lost her mind. You must be getting a lot of reader mail today. You hit the nail on the head in saying that she seems to think she has written an Oscar-Wilde-esque little riposte...... when in reality I have no idea what she thinks she was saying. We English majors have a complicated technical term for that called "poor communication skills". And boy, that little EMBROIDERED (good god) frog sign sounds like a charming and clever way to deal with smokers. I guess she's never noticed that even non-smokers don't like a smug anti-smoking crusader."
"I just got finished reading the review and email, and I just want to know, what kind of drugs is she on? And where can I get some? I realize that some of her incessant babble was supposed to "put you in your place", but she seems like she has some emotional baggage built up over being a temp. And why are you the bad guy? Aren't you a temp? ...She may have a great theory on how to adapt to new situations, but it seems more to me that she's regressing, not progressing. To bring all that clutter from home sounds like she's scared to be out there, or she's obsessive compulsive and she can't use other people's stuff.....either way, she needs some therapy!"
So, like I said, I'm tickled. Tomorrow I'll post my response. Was gonna do it today (technically, was gonna do it Monday), but I had to share some samplings of these e-mails (and these were just snippets of a select few, there were many more, and they are still coming in even now. Wild). Thanks to everyone who wrote in! My heart surges with love (and blood).
By the way, since it's been universally agreed upon that Ms. Feltman hasn't read my site, she's bound to miss all of your sentiments. Which is kind of sad, really. If only there were some way you could write directly to her and let her know! But, I can't think of a way for you to do that. Can you?
Oh, just to reiterate, her site is at www.kahrol.com.
(Diversions this week: Got a question? The smoking head of Bob can give you an answer. Plus, How Bored Are You? You'll find out when you play this game, which requires you to do nothing but be bored. Finally, remember those things where you had a bunch of faces divided into three parts and you could mix and match the eyes, noses, and mouths? Well, this is an online version (which has some music and sound effects, for those of you at work). Links are on the sidebar somewhere. These were all sent in by Kris! Thanks, hon!)
(Also, I've gotten several requests to put up a Diversions page, a log of all the past Diversions so no one has to hunt for them. It's on my list. Of course, it's been on my list for ages, in fact, it's been on my list since the very first day I started posting Diversions on this site. However, I will get it done some time this week. Scout's honor.)
So, yeah. Carol Feltman sent me an e-mail in response to a review of her book about temping, TEMP.tation.
Click here to read that review, if you want.
I reviewed her book waaaaaaay the hell back in July. Sheesh. Took her long enough to take notice. The review was part of Women's Week, which was a salute to, and celebration of, female temps. That said, I was probably a little rough on Ms. Feltman's labor of love. I made some nasty remarks, which in retrospect, may have been uncalled for. Luckily, after reading her e-mail, I once more feel justified.
See, it's a very long, wordy, thought-out e-mail. Notice I do not say "well thought-out." She obviously did put a lot of thought into it, I'm just not sure what she was thinking. The word-count is roughly equal to that of her book, yet slightly less coherent. She has a lot to say... I'm just not quite sure what she's saying.
Well, I guess I should let you read the darn thing. Click here to check it out.
Like I said, it's long. Really long. If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, don't worry, I'll post some excerpts of it tomorrow with my reply.
In addition to it being long, it's very purposeful and smug. I'm sure Ms. Feltman felt quite crafty while writing it. I'm sure I've been dealt blow after clever blow, and should feel humbled and dazzled and, I dunno, guilty? I'm quite certain that, in Ms. Feltman's universe, I've received my just desserts.
This may very well be true. I'm just not sure what the ingredients were.
Still, like her book, I found it mildly annoying, so I feel justified in suggesting in my review that she is a fussy busy-body.
Tomorrow, we'll have some analysis of her e-mail, and my reply. I was planning to do it today, but I'm bushed, plus, if you consider the length of her e-mail, you've probably done enough reading for the moment.
I should also note that I think this is cool! I slammed an author and got a response! Whoo-hoo! If only I could hear from Spencer Johnson. Then I'd really be in business.
All material © 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston. Yeah. That'll hold up in court.