Photo by Roz Joseph c. 1970

It used to be that the reason people hated me was because I offended them. Poor social skills. I’m sure you can imagine, but if you can’t, here’s the post about how I spoke at a women in business blogging event and I offended everyone by telling them that their blogs sucked and how to fix them.

Maybe I should set up a coaching business where I tell people how to fix their blogs, but really, most people don’t want to know. It’s like going to couples therapy. It’s a lot of work. And there’s always the hope that great sex can make up for everything else. People strive to write the blog equivalent of great sex.

1. Understand your personal style for bad behavior.
Anyway, the way I offend people today is different. Because I’m much more conscious of my lousy social skills, and I’m always trying hard to compensate for them. So my new way to offend people is to have terrible followthrough.

In case you are wondering how bad it is to have terrible followthrough, it’s one of the five most damaging deficits you can have in the workplace.

Anyway, here’s a list of what I do with my life:

Do you want to know how I do it? I miss stuff. Not the stuff you are thinking. I mean, I miss that, too. Like, I rarely see my friends, I don’t go to movies or out to dinner. I don’t go shopping.

2. Don’t say you’re sorry. That gets old. Take action instead.
But I also miss stuff  like Chris Guillebeau had a book coming out, and he asked me to endorse it. I know Chris, and I like his work, and he’s a fun guy. So I wanted to help. I carried his manuscript around with me for months. During those months, Chris sent me two followup emails asking if I was still doing it. They were really nice emails. I sent back emails saying “Yes, of course, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, okay next week.”

Also during that time, the Farmer had a chance to read the manuscript.

“Did you read the book by Chris Gillebeau?” he asked.

I said, “Do you think that’s how you pronounce his name? I don’t think it is.”

He said, “So you didn’t read the book, right?”

“Did you like it?”

“Yeah. It’s good. You should read it. “

I didn’t read it. But then Chris sent me a copy when it was done, with endorsements that included, of course:  A list of all the people who had their shit together. And I read the book, and here’s my endorsement: The $100 Startup is a book that shows you there is nothing keeping you from launching your own company. (It’s a great book to give to all the people who talk about how they are entrepreneurs but never do anything.)

3. Do unexpected favors to make people forget about unexpected rudeness.
Another thing: I missed a conference. I was supposed to give this talk in Madison. Melissa says the reason I didn’t go was because I wasn’t getting paid. This might be true.  I know that this whole blog is a diatribe on how money doesn’t make you happy. But money makes me motivated.

So this was a really small thing about giving writers advice on being writers and I wasn’t getting paid, and I missed it. Not that I didn’t have a good reason. We realized that our siding was falling off in pieces and it is asbestos (I always wondered why our siding didn’t look like any siding I had ever seen) and then when the guy came he told us that we had asbestos all over the pipes in the basement and the cats were clawing at it and the air was totally infested.

I think that’s the real reason the farmer is always coughing, and it’s not really allergies. I told him that and it just made him freak out more because I’ll tell you what farmers hate to do: spend any money on the house. There are barns to maintain and fences to build. Those fences are expensive.

So the Farmer was having a fit over having to spend money on the house and I was having a fit that the kids had been in the basement playing for two years and they were going to die before me and there is no more terrible thing in the world than watching a kid die and there were hazmat guys climbing all over our house and I forgot to go to the writer’s thing.

It’s particularly bad because the writer’s thing was in Madison and I worry that people in Madison don’t like me. I worry that they won’t do playdates with my kids because of this blog and I also worry that they just think I’m a nutcase. I’m not going to link to nutcase. You can think of a lot of appropriate links, I’m sure. But maybe there’s someone reading who lives in Madison who came to my blog because they heard I’m really fun and interesting. I don’t want to give them any bad ideas.

Wait. Here’s a link for fun and interesting.

So I called this hazmat guy in Madison to come ASAP, because I’m from NYC and everything for me is ASAP even though I expressly moved to rural America to stop being the ASAP type.

I called him and he came right away. Advanced Health & Safety. That’s the company.   The guy’s name is Bob Stigsell.  I’m putting his name here so it’s free advertising for him. This is a way to get people in Madison to like me.

So look, if there is anyone who was planning on going to my talk about how to make money being a writer—or whatever the talk topic was, I can’t totally remember—but if you were supposed to see me, and you’re disappointed, you can just email me and I’ll set up a time to talk with you. Actually, I’ll set up a time to talk with anyone about how I’m making money being a writer. I’m great at doing that. But if you were’t signed up for the conference you have to pay me my regular consulting fee. (And, what do you think? Would that count as making money being a writer or is that something else?)

4. If your bad behavior is toward yourself, be judicious with second chances.
Finally in my list of things I messed up because I am doing too much is my essay about why eating meat is ethical. That’s right. The New York Times had a contest for who could write the best essay on that topic. Melissa sent me the info and said I should enter.

I thought: She’s right. And I wrote my essay on the spot and I sent it to her.

She wrote back, “I love it. You’ll totally win.”

I thought, “Yeah. She’s right. I’ll totally win.” I thought how I should start entering contests again. I used to do that when I thought I was going to be the female version of Philip Roth but now I just write blog posts and I think I’m a winner if I get more than 100 comments.

Okay. So I didn’t send in my essay. I decided I would hold onto the essay for a few days while I figure out how to replace the part about killing kittens. (We do that. Kill kittens. I wasn’t sure if it really had a place in the winning essay about how eating animals is ethical.)

But then I forgot to send in the essay. I noticed one day while I was supposedly catching up on stuff. But really you can’t catch up on stuff that is past. So I was just sulking, really, and then Jeanenne came into the room and said, “Do you want this sweater washed or dry cleaned?”

And I said, “Whatever. It’s clean just put it away. Don’t talk to me.”

I am so disappointed that I sent my essay in late. I was thinking maybe they would let me be late. I was only a day late. But the contest is in the ethics column. And The Ethicist can’t really let me cheat on the contest.

So I am fixing this, too. I am publishing the essay myself. Here. You can read my winning essay for The New York Times contest on why it’s ethical to eat meat.

And I’m wearing my sweater anyway. I’m pretending it’s not dirty. And it seems that people are pretending right along with me.