Learning to be empathetic the hard way

Sometimes editors get a little full of themselves. They start feeling superior to other people because they know how to use en dashes and know how to punctuate appositives. (Not us, dear readers, of course not. I mean other people.)

Tax day is screaming toward those of us who live in the States. April 15 (or April 18 this year) is the turn-in-your-taxes-or-else day. Taxes make me want to die. I was famous in my bookselling day for being incapable of counting out a drawer correctly in one try. There are many ways to count to 100 in my world. Adding numbers together, reading financial statements, and writing numbers accurately in official government boxes fill me with terror.

If a well-meaning, if foolish, person tries to give me tax advice, my brain fills with the blue screen of death and her words float harmlessly over my head. If anyone asks me about finances I break a cold sweat and imagine that I’m doing it wrong—whatever I’m doing, it is wrong. This is possibly born from my experience of being a smart person in high school math classes that were too advanced for me. I was used to understanding things and doing them reasonably well. And then I stepped into math class and my native intelligence ran away whimpering. Nothing made sense. I understood one sentence out of three.

Imagine if I felt this way about writing. And so while editors rewrite martini lists in their head for fun, others are terrified by the very idea of a verb and a noun being in the same sentence. They may be able to piece sentences together, but they are sure the great English teacher in the sky is going to appear and tell them that they are doing it wrong.

I am deeply grateful that it hasn’t occurred to the tax man to start a blog to talk about his impossibly flaky clients. I mean, he hasn’t, has he?

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3 responses to “Learning to be empathetic the hard way

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