Journalists sometimes forget how important their readers are. Yet their missives often arrive in our mailboxes packed with helpful comments, and the constructive criticism that offers us the opportunity to better our craft as communicators.
Consider this compelling note from a curious gentleman wanting to chat about my recent, unfavorable review of Coach and Willie's, next to Bank One Ballpark:
"Will you please help me figure something out!" he pleads. "Did somebody personally piss you off? Do you have an axe to grind? Are you sure that you had the right place when you 'criticized' (I use that term very lightly) Coach & Willie's, or did the weak competition grease your palm? Were you menstruating when you wrote that outrage?"
"Are you an idiot," he wonders, "or all the above?"
Oh, pshaw. It's quite flattering that a reader would want to get to know me better, but really, I wonder if encouraging his obsession by answering such personal questions would be wise.
Our gentle friend is concerned I may have overlooked a point that's critical to a restaurant's quality of food. "How many places can the Arizona Diamondbacks choose from when getting their clubhouse catered? For your information, the Diamondbacks use Coach & Willie's because they love the food!"
I admit I neglected to poll the team before writing the review, and offer apologies.
He is sympathetic, and thoughtfully offers some suggestions to help me overcome limitations I may not have been aware of. "I realize you're probably not used to eating phenomenal food because of your job position (working for a fish wrap that is free and is well-known for advertising hookers). Perhaps Coach & Willie's should have a drive-through and a super-size option, or maybe they should get some kind of hookup for your trailer."
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How considerate, except that my trailer tipped over in the last windstorm, so a hookup wouldn't be too useful right now. And would the drive-through be tall enough to handle my mobile home, anyway?
He shares his affection for my style. "I especially love how you make a reference like you ate at a Third World country when comparing food." Thanks! Glad you liked it!
Finally, he's puzzled about my geographical capabilities as they apply to restaurant reviewing. "Can you even name a Third World country?"
Why would I need to, when we've already got the food in our own backyard, right next to BOB?