I got an email today on Facebook from somebody I don't know (I "friend" everybody except scammers and phone sex operators) from a writer's organization that I've never heard of. It read:
I've heard good things about you for awhile.
Maybe it's good timing that you just added me as an FB buddy.
Our scheduled speaker for November 14th just had kidney failure — and I'd be your new BFF if you could jump in and man the guns for that Saturday at about 6:30 PM.
I hope you can help a local boy out, here. ;-))
I appreciate the invitation but I'm going to have to pass.
Here's what he wrote back:
I'm sorry and a bit surprised.
Good luck in all you do. Keep me apprised of your successes.
Maybe I'm just tired, or in a bad mood, but I have to admit, his reply really ticked me off. He's "a bit surprised?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? So here's what I wrote to him:
Why are you "a bit surprised?"
I guess that you assumed that I'm always available for any group that asks me to speak, any time, any where.
Or perhaps it didn't occur to you that I might have other obligations on Nov. 14…or that I might be on tight deadlines to deliver a script and a book by the end of November….or that I have spent too many Saturdays away from my family lately…or that I might have any number of other reasons for having to pass on being your speaker.
Or perhaps you simply assumed I'd drop everything for you and were "a bit surprised" when I didn't.
I don't know your reasons. But I was "a bit surprised" by your comment.
He got back to me a short time later.
Wow, I'm not sure what invoked that?!
"Surprised" that you were not succinct but curt – and that you weren't open to some amicable dialogue. "Surprised" because I'd heard good things about you….
What was he expecting? A tearful apology instead of a polite rejection? A detailed explanation and a plea for forgiveness? Or perhaps he was hoping I'd promise to speak to his group at my earliest convenience? Then again, maybe he would have settled for lunch and a dedication in my next book.
From now on, maybe if I can't say yes to a request from a stranger, I just won't respond at all.