Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You have to have the bad days …

I was once told, “You have to have the bad days to appreciate the good days.”

While that makes sense, it’s often cold comfort when you are having one of those “bad” days. I had one of those bad days recently.

It started innocently enough. I was running through my emails and such. I noticed someone had posted a review on my book The Hidden Sun. And it was the worst review I’ve ever received. You know you’re in trouble when the reviewer uses the word “whilst” in the first few words.

Her biggest two complaints were this: First, I used contractions in the book. She said that’s a “big no-no” in English literature. Wait. What? I’d never heard that before.

I checked with some of my author friends. They hadn’t heard of it either. One author said that at one point in time she had a professor mention that, but it was no longer a rule.

The second thing that bugged her was that the book read like “A TV show or movie script.” Meaning I write in smaller scenes, and use several characters to tell an overall story. Well, you know what? That was intentional. And frankly, it’s one of the things many people have liked about it.

Lastly, and the end of her review, she includes two big “spoilers.” Talk about a no-no!

I know it shouldn’t bother me, mainly because the reviewer was obviously from la-la land, but it did.

Intellectually, I was recognized I was in a bad mood. Yet, I couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling of being upset. I’m experienced enough in life to realize that often time is the only thing that will allow my emotions to settle down.

By dinner time, I was fairly calmed down. My wife had taken my oldest two daughters shopping for school supplies. I had to run some errands with my youngest two daughters. Normally we eat dinner as a family, but on that day, we ate it on the run. My two youngest and I went to KFC.

The girls wanted to try the new chicken bites. So, I bought a 10 piece for them to share. After waiting for about 15 minutes, my order number was called. I went to the front and the employee told me, “We are all out of chicken bites.” She even made a slashing motion across her neck to emphasis her point. “I can give you a couple of pieces of chicken instead.”

My daughters aren’t big fans of chicken on the bone. I looked at the menu board and then at my receipt. They had chicken strips, 3 for $3.99. I had paid $4.49 for 10 bites. I said, “Tell you what, give me 4 strips, and we’ll call it even.”

She shook her head violently. “I’ll only do three.”

Now, keep in mind, I was still coming down from a pretty “bad” day. It would have been easy for me to blow up at her. Instead, I took a deep breath and in a calm voice said, “I paid $4.49 for the bites. You’re offering me something worth $3.99.”

Her response? “But when you add tax, $3.99 gets close to $4.49!”

I was flabbergasted. Still, I kept it together—somehow. “I paid $4.49 before tax. And frankly, you sold me something you didn’t have—and you’ve kept us waiting quite a while. Honestly, you should be doing whatever you can to make it right, not trying to bargain with me.”

At that point, she gave me the stink eye and said she would have to get a manager. I could see the employee go talk to him. She was flapping her arms in disgust and also pointing at me. I didn’t hear what the manager said to her, but he came over and said, “I’m so sorry. Of course you can have 4 strips. Can I get you a free side as well for your trouble?” I declined on the side, but thanked him.

Later that night, I thought about that employee at KFC. Part of me wondered if something hadn’t happened to her earlier in the day to put her in a bad mood. It didn’t excuse her actions, but at least I could relate.


  1. Good for you for not blowing up. Don't worry about the bad reviews. You know it's a good book.did I tell you my 11 year old recently read them both and loved them?

  2. Ah, thanks for the note. Yeah, bad reviews happen. You can't please everyone. I'm glad your 11 year old enjoyed the books. We'll see if I can't pull off the trifecta with "The Zealous Star."

  3. whilst i enjoyed reading your blog, you used too many contractions. No seriously. I love your perspective. Before we go all postal on someone who is being unreasonable, it's wise to take a step back and think. Perhaps they DID have something awful happen to them that made their day suck. Love your patience!!!