Featured Journal

The very, very bad e-mail

Written by Leslie Means

Written By:  Leslie Means

By the time I finally opened the e-mail, four or five sets of eyes had already read its content.  As I breezed over the words a handful of others nearby were doing the same.  Unfortunately for me, it was a very, very bad e-mail.

I had already received negative comments during my television days.  Some discussed my hairstyles, others wondered about my clothing options – but nothing compared to this one.  Usually the negative e-mails and letters were kept away from the on-air personalities.  Probably to shield us from the exact moment I was about to have.

 I know this e-mail began by praising my co-workers for a job well done.  Apparently that part didn’t stick with me.  Instead the words engraved into my memory bank go a little something like this.

“I don’t know why Leslie is working on TV.  She talks with a lisp.  You can’t even understand what she’s saying.”

I’m sure it went further than that, but my eyes couldn’t leave those 3 sentences.  I felt like someone had stabbed me with a knife of despair.  I can handle people commenting about my appearance or personality, but the way I talk?  That was a low blow. 

At first, I wanted to throw rotten eggs at the head of this stranger and then possibly duct tape his or her self to a chair.  When I realized that option was out, I instead made my way to the restroom, locked the door and bawled.

It got worse.

Once I had calmed myself down and reapplied my makeup, I found my way out of the stall.  Then, the dagger dug deep.  I had a few people mention the very, very bad e-mail to me; because as you recall, everyone in the newsroom had read it by now. 

 “Leslie, don’t listen to them.  It’s OK, you don’t have a lisp,” they assured me.

I wanted to die.

OK.  Maybe not actually die – but at that moment, I wanted to be alone in a very dark room with a glass of wine and my sorrows.  I’m pretty sure I even thought about leaving the TV business.

After I begged my boss to have a specialist come in and work with me – it was determined that: 

I didn’t have a lisp. 

I think about that e-mail and my lisp every so often.  Deep down, I knew I did speak with a bit of a slur, but it had never really bothered me to this level of angst.  It took a total stranger pointing out one silly flaw, for me to break down. 

I try very hard to not let anyone or anything break me like that anymore.   

Last week a friend of mine was upset.  Her daughter got kicked off a sports team that she had worked so hard to be on.  Hearing the coach say, “You just don’t quite fit the team” isn’t easy for any teenager or the parent of that teen.   I wasn’t sure what advice to give in that moment.  Instead, I simply listened while she shed a few tears.  Even though I couldn’t find the words on that day – I think I have them now. 

 “We can’t control the words people use, but we can control the way we react.  There will be times when someone says something so terrible you’ll want to hide in a dark room, or lock yourself in the bathroom stall and have a good cry.  And yes, there may even be times you’ll want to duct tape the accuser to a chair.  (Hopefully that doesn’t actually happen – otherwise that’s another chat for another day).  But you can decide what to do with their words.  You can choose whether you want to pick yourself up or stay on the floor.  It’s that easy and that difficult.  It really is up to you.”

I don’t know if it’s right, but it’s what I’m planning to tell my daughters when their breakdown day comes.  And on that day, I’ll likely find myself more crushed than the moment I read the very, very bad e-mail from a total stranger.  

Read more from Leslie in the Kearney Hub

About the author

Leslie Means

Leslie is the co-founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well.

She is married to a very patient man. Together they have two pretty fantastic little girls ages 8 and 6 and one little dude born March 2017!

When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.

11 Comments

    • It is – at first, Heather. I think what helped me through that comment and others that followed, is an incredible support with friends and family. Now – it really does take a lot for people to get under my skin. As I look back on it – I actually think the note made me stronger.

  • How totally rude and inappropriate for some mean mean person to say!! You are wonderful Leslie!!! Don’t listen to that garbage! And…. I if anyone ever says something to your girls I will have to jump in!!! No one will ever hurt them while I am around them:)

  • Yesterday, my nine year old daughter told me about an incident at school. Her teacher had called on her to answer a math question and she had lost track of what question they were on. When the teacher corrected her, the rest of the class laughed at her. I could not find the right words at that very moment to address the subject. Instead, I mumbled something about how it did not matter what the rest of the class thought of her but rather what she thought of herself. And then, in an attempt to correct myself, I added, “But I understand, it is embarrassing. No one will remember it tomorrow.”

    You are right, Leslie! I didn’t even bother to ask her about her reaction. As her mother, I hope she held her head up and answered the correct question…and remembered to pay better attention in class!

    People are cruel. I think it is important to remember that what other people do or say is only a true reflection of themselves. Leslie, you do not have a lisp! The audio on their television must have been going out!

  • You tell your girls to hold there head high. And ignore the rude people. They just do that because they are insecure in their own selves. No one has to put up with that meanness . I am pretty sure both your girls will be able to ‘hold their own’ when the time comes!! Both are extremely smart and STRONG!!!!!

  • I recently accidentally came across and email at my new job that was between two coworkers gossiping abut me. It was so bad that I sat and shook for 30 minutes. When I tried to talk to them about it, they bullied me verbally till I broke down and cried. The end result was that I quit the job because I was the new person and the boss sided with the bullies. I am struggling with whether I should have even had a conversation with them or if I should have ignored it. I wanted to believe that we could work things out as adults ( I am over 50).

    My message to my daughter may be that sometimes it is better to walk away from problems than to try to resolve things which is not a message I want to endorse. The pain has caused me to doubt myself and my abilities and this is not the example I want for my daughter. These bullying coworkers were respected 50 year old professionals.

    • ugh. I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s a good reminder for all of us to show more kindness in this world – no matter our age! Thanks for sharing with us…