Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Quick But Heartfelt Grump

     Sundays aren’t meant for this sort of emission – I’m unsure whether any day of the week is more suitable – but this is currently churning my gut, so I’ll get it out before it can trigger something even more unfortunate.

     Do you know anyone who not only wants something for nothing but expects it? Someone who feels that merely asking you for something imposes an obligation on you –an obligation that lays absolutely no weight on him? I’d bet that you do, simply because the species has grown so numerous in recent decades. It’s part of the “if I want it, it’s mine by right syndrome” that’s aspiring to pandemic status.

     Such supplicants cluster around me rather thickly. Many such acquaintances start off pleasantly enough. It takes time for their parasitism to emerge – not a lot of time, mind you – but when it does, they’re entirely unembarrassed about it. They also tend to react to refusal rather badly.

     Perhaps there’s something in me that attracts such creatures, or perhaps it’s just bad luck. Whatever the case, in these latter years of my life the phenomenon has become massively wearying.

     The most recent manifestation of the syndrome involves Amazon book reviews. I’m not the most prolific of reviewers – I think I’ve posted about eighty of them – but I put a fair amount of effort into a review. When I encounter a book that has impressed me sufficiently, whether positively or negatively, to deserve a review, I spend a while thinking about what ought to be said about it. The result is certainly more informative and involved than the two-sentence dismissal or dithyramb typical of the form.

     Over the past couple of years I’ve been solicited for book reviews by about two dozen writers:

  • Who don’t know me;
  • Whom I’ve never read;
  • And who react negatively when I specify a quid pro quo.

     The most recent instance was particularly interesting. A writer contacted me cold, opening with “I’m a fan of your reviews.” Sure he is! He’s probably a fan of everyone’s reviews! Of course, that was an opening line; he wanted me to review his latest book, which he would send me gratis. Feeling brisk – brisker than usual, at any rate – I replied that “I expect reciprocal service,” and offered to send him a free copy of any of my books if he would agree to review it. He responded that he “didn’t know you were an author,” he “didn’t want to feel the pressure to return a five-star review” of one of my books, and – hold on to your seat, Gentle Reader, he felt that my time -- my time! – would be better spent “working on your manuscript,” thereby adding a severe and unwarranted insult to the exchange.

     It occurred to me at that moment that many persons’ lives are prolonged solely by their distance from those they’ve insulted.

     I hope to be back later with something cheerier, though considering the state of the nation and the ongoing presidential campaign, that might be a forlorn hope. At any rate, until then.


Dystopic said...

I don't understand it myself. When I ask for things from folks, a part of me is dreadfully embarrassed to do so. And I always amenable to returning the favor in what manner is available to me.

Quid pro quo is a good principle to live by. No, it's not always possible to pay back all favors right away, but to react with hostility when it is even suggested? I don't get it. There must be some fundamental trait of civilised human decency missing from those who behave this way. Some notion, perhaps, that they are a superior form of life that need not submit to the will of lesser beings, but may use such as they see fit.

God, in his supreme wisdom, supplied me with a middle finger to display to such folk.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Actually, Dys, he gave you two, so a second one couldn't blindside you while you're replying to the first.

Bill St. Clair said...

I lived with a woman like that for 24 years, raising two kids. Finally left her a year and a half ago, though I'm still paying her rent and utilities, since our daughter is still living with her. But at least I don't have her bossing me around from day to day.

Anonymous said...

Here is another topic perhaps worth of a rant: those who insult and don't even realize they are doing it. Much like your corresponded did to you.

Recently had a talk with someone in charge of the place that provides care for one of our little ones. I suggested that controversial subjects like same sex marriage should be referred to parents. (A staff member had said anyone can marry anyone so our little one thought they could marry their best friend). In the course of the conversation the person said, "We prefer to teach inclusion." Roll off her tongue like water off a ducks back. To make it even better she had zero clue how thoroughly she had dismissed my beliefs and insulted me in one short statement.

This is the world we live in.
For the little one: we discussed the difference between God's law and the laws of men.