December 23, 2004

yearly application of tact

My theme song this Christmas is from Stan Rogers:

At last, I'm ready for Christmas, I've even finished the tree, At last, I'm ready for Christmas, like I thought I'd never be, With feet propped up by a nice warm fire and a matching inside glow. At last, I'm ready for Christmas, with nearly two hours to go.

Granted, I'm more or less ready two days before, not two hours, but only because Rudder's family arrives today. MIL's hat is DONE! though not wrapped, the tree is decked and the ornament boxes put away, the house is straightened to Rudder's standards, and the turkeys are injected (with seasoning / marinade).

I have done my act of kindness and tact for this year, too. There's a woman on an e-list of mine who has put me on her list of "inspirational" forwards. These are almost invariably a) treacly, b) preachy, and c) about Jesus. Worse, this is the second time she's done this; she had me on her list years ago when we were both on a related e-list; I think then I just blocked her email address. I've made no secret of being Jewish on this list. I don't know in what universe it's acceptable to send stuff like that to someone not of your faith, and in my particular universe it's not acceptable to send ANY regular forwards to ANYONE unless they've asked for them. I might send the occasional joke or picture that I think a specific person might especially like, but her messages were coming several times a day. However, contrary though it might be to reason, I do believe her motives were benign; I think she's just honestly clueless.

I emailed her and asked her politely to stop, and it was one of the hardest messages I've ever had to frame. It was far more difficult than you'd imagine not to write "What part of "Jewish" do you not understand?" or "Please get your god out of my inbox," or some such. (As may be obvious, I am not a naturally tactful person.) But I did it, and I must have succeeded in non-inflammatory phrasing, because she agreed to take me off her list, told me with no hint of irony that she "appreciated my being Jewish" (arrgggh!) and asked for a copy of something I'd written.

I suppose there are things to be said for tact, in that it so often seems to succeed where direct speech would only raise defensive hackles. I'd feel better if I could think of a similarly polite way to educate her on why what she's done is unacceptable, but I don't think I can do that without being worse than the original offense, and using rudeness to teach manners is generally not productive.

(Of course, by venting here I've probably already voided any tact KarmaI'd earned, anyway. It's still not a skill I've fully internalized, clearly.)

Posted by dichroic at December 23, 2004 08:55 AM

Best of the season to you, darlin' P. I got your card yesterday and it was lovely. Thank you so much. (I'm terrible about sending cards so this'll have to do until I can get to the post office.) Big hugs to you and Rudder. Hope we can get together this coming year. It would be great to see you again. Big hug, much love, -J

Posted by: Jenn at December 23, 2004 10:06 AM

I admire your restraint. Since it was a repeat situation, I would not have handled it as well.

Posted by: Marn, eh at December 23, 2004 03:03 PM

I get the exact same posts too, and just delete them without reading. I know she means well, but they're annoying, unasked for and therefore spam - and I AM Christian ;) I was on her list a couple of years back, but asked her to take me off as her posts were all big and I was on a dial up modem. Obviously she must have thought I didn't mind being put back on. So far I just ignore them, but if they increase in number, I'm going to ask to be taken off her list too.

Posted by: Maria at December 23, 2004 05:19 PM

probably just one of those folks who built a global mailing list
from their address book and just don't get it.

(fwiw, i've seen 'all hands' messages get out of control at work.
since i work for one of the bigger chunks of the federal govt...)

Posted by: lcubed at December 23, 2004 09:08 PM

I'm getting them too, and quietly deleting them whilst wondering how to do what you've already done so well!

Thank you for your lovely card and letter which came yesterday - I was having a bad day and reading again about your trip to see penguins was fun as I remembered the wonderful photos you'd taken on your trip :)

Posted by: ruthie at December 24, 2004 02:51 AM

Dear One, I wish you and Rudder a very Merry Christmas. I might have missed saying it at the correct time, so Happy Hannukah too. And Happy New Year. In fact, just take a big glob of Happy and spread it over everything. Ho ho ho. ~LA

Posted by: LA at December 24, 2004 07:07 AM
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