Have you ever been chewed out?
Of course you have, it is a part of life.
There are various causes for such an experience, but I have to say when a reader writes to chew me out about something or other in the paper, I take it seriously.
I explore the issue as deeply as I can and evaluate what I might be able to do better.
This is how a paper like Numismatic News has managed to survive for so many years since 1952.
We have to consistently strive to do better or we are out of business.
Nobody likes to be chewed out, but I guarantee you that in my case, when a situtation that is identical or even similar to what prompted a previous encounter with an unhappy reader, you can be sure that I remember it and my action is informed by what I hope I have learned.
My first boss had a knack for understated disapproval.
I wanted to learn all I could from him. I wanted to please him. He knew that.
An icy flick of his cigarette ash without a word spoken could send my mind into silent evaluation of what I had just done or did not do.
Naturally, he offered help and instruction, but humans being human, there are always circumstances where patience ends and frustration enters and the result is something like flicking his cigarette ash.
I also knew that when smoke was rising from his desk like a coal-fired electric power plant smokestack that I was not going to disturb him for all the money in the world.
It was just not wise to walk into whatever private hassle he was going through.
If I needed to know what happened, you can be sure that he found a way to let me know after the frustrations of the moment had lapsed and the cigarette was being handled in a more jaunty way.
I do not miss the foul air of that time, but when it came to sending signals with his smoke, my first boss was second to none.