When “I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Resonate

-November 2010

Not long ago, I received a scathing reply email from someone I hardly know.

Apparently, I didn’t express enough personal concern for the outcome of her “ouchy oral surgery” in my more business-focused correspondence.

My opening sentence wished her a very speedy healing process.

It seems that wasn’t enough. She blasted me for not offering a larger expression of concern: “When someone tells me she has had surgery, I write to let them how I wish them the best, and will check back with them in a week to see how they are feeling. What I NEVER do is discuss business that can definitely wait.” 

Wow.  I was rather taken aback.

When someone tells me?  No one told me.

I found out second hand, because she didn’t include my email address in her group communiqué, sent out six days earlier, where she explained the sudden cancellation of our monthly writing group meeting.  The following day after our meeting was to have taken place, another member forwarded to me the cancellation announcement I’d never received.

I read her curt response and instantly felt ashamed, like a child who had been scolded by her mother.  Granted, she did start up a writing group, so it isn’t like she doesn’t understand the value of the word…I’d assume written AND otherwise.  But apparently, she doesn’t have much (maybe any?) business background, because in the eight months since I paid $125 to join this group (a steal, by the way…she does bring in wonderful guest speakers who are publishers, agents, editors and published authors), I have yet to be on the general distribution list for email blasts, such as the one she apparently sent out, to some, not all.

I promptly sent her a heartfelt apology.   It was probably longer than it needed to be, because I explained that I hadn’t received her notice of cancellation, except after the fact.  But it was heartfelt, and I told her I would be sure to check in at the end of the week, to see how she was doing.

No response came.  At the end of the week, I sent a follow-up apology, letting her know I was, in fact, thinking of her and hoping she was well.

It’s now been four weeks, and I’ve received no acknowledgement of my apology.  As a matter of fact, I’ve received nothing from her at all. No group communiqués. Nothing. Nada.

She’d made me out to be completely insensitive. I hardly know this woman, and CLEARLY she hasn’t got a clue about me.

I’m definitely not a stranger to health challenges, but I had no idea of the seriousness of oral surgery. Given that she responded so quickly to my business focused email, I’m still not quite sure of the seriousness of oral surgery, only that hers was ‘ouchy’, but not ‘ouchy’ enough for her to ignore email.

I do, however, understand that everyone handles his/her challenges differently.  But does that excuse her for not acknowledging my expressions of apology?  Likely there is more going on here.

The business focus of my email was to in response to her news of our upcoming fundraiser, as described in the aforementioned mass communiqué that I received second hand. Her emailed words:

The other (beneficiary) is a severely autistic boy who
suffers from epileptic seizures and has been approved for a companion
dog but his family needs to raise $20,000 for the cost of the pet. The
boy is home-schooled by his mother and the pet would provide
companionship, understanding and love

My reply (which followed my opening statement of ‘Hope your healing time goes super fast’):

 “With regards to beneficiaries of the Monologue proceeds, I’m going to preface what I’m about to say next with this: If YOU’RE comfortable with this family whose child has severe autism, then SO AM I.  BUT your description, which says “..but his family needs to raise $20,000 for the cost of the pet”…. The cost factor raised an instant red flag for me. I’ve never heard of a reputable canine service organization who charges a need-based recipient for the cost of the dog.  I’m not an expert on this…but have worked with dogs for many years via AKC obedience show circuit, and also volunteered with Guide Dogs for the Blind.  (btw, service dogs aren’t usually referred to as ‘pets’, although they DO often  become members of the family.  Not sure it that was YOUR word, or the hopeful family’s word?)   In doing a Google search on this, I wasn’t able to find one organization that actually charges the placement family.   You may want to get confirmation of this situation to be sure this situation is truly honest.  I am ALL for supporting the child…so don’t get me wrong here….but the cost of the service dog seems highly questionable to me.  Maybe this family simply needs funding to cover medical care…that would have been the honest need and I am happy to support that. So…once again, if YOU’RE comfortable with this family and their needs, then SO AM I.

When you have time, can you add my email address to your distribution list?  Thanks.

Honestly, I might not have sent her my input had I not just received a notice from the United States Postal Service, warning of holiday scam artists.  I can’t imagine a family with an autistic child scamming anyone, but then again, I can’t imagine so many things that happen every single day in this country and around the world.

So, I decided to point out my concerns, but make it clear that I would follow her lead on the decision.

I know I shouldn’t be stewing about this, but I have apologized promptly, and then apologized again.   Am I wrong to have expected some sort of acknowledgement from her?

Or are real writers just bad communicators?

POST SCRIPT: The fund-raising event has come and gone, but I was unable to attend because I was across the country at the time.  However, although no email communiqué has been received, a wonderful recap has been posted on the group website. It was a sell-out, great fun, and apparently all proceeds went to another well deserving family…no mention of the family in need of a $20,000 pet.















3 thoughts on “When “I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Resonate

  1. […] Not that this will brighten your day in any way: ‘When I’m Sorry Doesn’t Resonate’ is the essay that resulted, and I’ve uploaded it here:  https://lifeandotherturbulence.com/when-im-sorry-doesnt-resonate/  […]


  2. You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.


    • Life and Other Turbulence

      Thank you for your comments, I appreciate your feedback and your time to read my blog.


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