Garbage Out, Garbage In
People were mean to me yesterday. Really, really mean. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position. Elementary school? High school? One of those, anyway. In any event, it’s been a long time. Yesterday I was the lucky recipient of a lot of very ugly critical feedback in response to my piece on “elitist” garbage men.
At first I was surprised. I’m new at writing for mass consumption. Seriously? Did they not see that it was meant to be totally tongue-in-cheek? Then it got a little scary. I was called names, told I was a psycho and (the real insult) unintentionally funny. No! It was intentionally funny. It’s a humor column, people. Someone said I was the worst thing ever written on the Internet. Does that include porn? Really? There has to be some erotica more poorly written. [SIGNUP]
One person said “the world and your kids would be better off if you off-ed yourself.” Okay, now we’ve crossed into scary-mean. This smacks of those people that drive teenagers to suicide by text or Facebook. Thankfully I’m years beyond that level of vulnerability, but come on. Off myself? Just because I joked about a garbage man asking an upscale suburban mother for a date on his route? The real joke was about what he thought he was there to pick up, not that he was of a lower class distinction. This was a funny situation that I exploited in the name of cheap humor. I can’t really see it as such an unspeakable crime that it’s worth sparing the world via my suicide. I did try, by the way, but the garbage men wouldn’t take my dead carcass.
Another person wrote that a clever wit does not make fun of others. I’ve yet to trip across a funny person that doesn’t make fun of themselves and others. Dave Barry’s campaign against professional movers must make these people furious to the core. I’d really like to spend some time with these people who are so quick to throw out such hateful words. I mean, they’re calling me out for apparently speaking ill of people, yet have no idea of the hypocrisy of doing so themselves. And by the way, I myself am the one who first used the words “spoiled” and “snob.” To use them against me is just not very creative name-calling.
Obviously I touched a nerve. I had no idea so many people were salivating to jump into a class warfare debate. Not only do I not think I’m above anybody, but quite the contrary. Anyone who knows me knows that I laugh at myself first, tip service people generously, constantly thank and apologize to everyone, including the parking meters I bump into, which is a Canadian thing. I won’t even waste any more time defending my piece because I know it was meant to be funny. I would like my critics to know that I have held many a menial job, dated my share of gas station attendants, tool and dye makers and one garbage man. I was raised in a modest environment, am the product of civil servants and worked for everything I currently enjoy. For all the abuse I’ve received for this column, I earn a fraction of what I pay my cleaning lady. [ED. NOTE: True! Slave wages here at The Post.]
The irony of this is that I am being accused of being judgmental by what have to be the most judgmental people I’ve come across. I’ve never seen such a rush to judgment, prosecution and apparently even the death penalty. These comments were mostly not just disagreements about what I’ve written, but about me personally. I was utterly stunned at the vitriol that was spewed. Apparently these people don’t know that their email address comes to me with their vilification. It’s tempting to send them all personal notes!
So for future reference, most everything from me is meant to be humorous, regardless of whether I succeed or not. I will be working on making my Irish immigrant skin thicker and keeping my eye on the Political Correctness factor. And I want to make absolutely sure that everybody knows I recycle!
KELLY ROWELL is moving to Upper Darby