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This Morning I Became a Douchebag on CNN.com and Our Hamster Died

I subscribe to the “Help a Reporter Out” emails that match up members of the media with “experts” for their stories. I scan the emails for my real job and also look for opportunities to promote my blog as a valued resource on butt puckering or jock strap shopping.

I thought my ship came in when I came across a request to interview people who had their full-time jobs cut to part-time. I gave the pitch about how my pay was reduced just as my family was trying to recover financially from my husband being out of work. I added that I was angry about the decision, but after a while, the change forced me to balance my family life and gave me time to create and write my blog.

Lo and behold, the phone rang and it was a reporter with CNN Money.com. He mentioned that he liked my blog and joked that he was happy that I was recovering from my surgery. During the interview, I explained how four years ago, my husband was unemployed for 10 months and that we were fortunate to be on my benefits during that time. Six months after he got back to work, my salaried job was restructured to 30 hours and my income reduced by 25%.

I went on to say that initially, I was bitter because we were trying so hard to rebuild from that tough period but I was lucky because I still had a job and that my husband now carried the benefits for our family. My babble included how after few months, I realized that the change forced me to balance my life, gave me a chance to help at my kids’ school and freed up time to pursue my passion for writing on (BIG PLUG HERE) mom-mom-mom.com.

Basically, it was a pretty crappy situation, but I had the best-case scenario of it all going down. I still had a gig and my family had health insurance. We already were trained to skimp and scrape.

Yep, the glass is always half full of vodka around here, people.

The reporter asked for a picture of me enjoying my time with my family to help illustrate the story. As the family photographer, there aren’t any pictures of me. I finally found one of Junior and me from three years ago – when I was working full-time, by the way.

He told me that the story would be running in a few days. I woke up at the crack of dawn and clicked on to the CNN website. There was my big old face with the headline: Part-time workers: More fine with no full-time job

My stomach sank.  Holy shit. I was the poster child of the unemployment crisis.


The article went on to say:

Shawn Boyer, CEO of SnagAJob, a job posting site for hourly positions, thinks some part-timers are discovering the advantages that go with the disadvantage of smaller paychecks.

“You get a person who didn’t have a choice but to go into part time, and after adjusting to the lifestyle, they realize they have more of a work/life balance,” said Boyer.

That was the case for Karen King, a suburban Chicago marketing executive for a midsize specialty retailer. When she had her hours — and her salary — cut by 25% in early 2009, she thought it was a disaster for her and her family.

“I was angry, I was bitter, I took it personally. I felt like I was taken advantage of,” King recalled.

But soon she decided it was the best situation, even if it put a crimp in the family budget.

“I finally figured out the balance since it was forced upon me,” she said.

(PS. I am not a marketing executive. That was the only part of the article that made me chuckle.)

Within minutes, the angry comments started ranting about how out of touch this article was with the real problems of being jobless.



I wanted to chime in and write my whole back-story and let people know that I did not mean to be flippant about unemployment. I know the devastating toll it takes on a family. On a marriage. On your dignity. On your confidence.

You truly have no idea what it is like until you go through it.

I ran upstairs on the verge of tears and told my husband what happened.

He told me to stop reading the comments.

So I did. For another five minutes.

The comments kept rolling in.

I finally tore myself away from the computer and headed down to the basement to get Junior’s clothes out of the clean laundry pile. I caught a whiff of awfulness and decided that it was coming from the bathroom, decaying food or the hamster cage. I walk over to the cage and there is our hamster Nutmeg, rolled up on a corner, completely still. I poked him and he didn’t flinch.

He was running on that big hamster wheel in the sky.

Missy already left for school and I couldn’t break the news to Junior. He was Star of the Week and just made a poster featuring a big picture of Nutmeg. As soon as the coast was clear, I scooped Nutty up into a little tin and Tom cleaned out the cage.

It was just 7 a.m. and I was ready to upchuck.

I no longer cared that I was portrayed as a total A-hole on a national news website. My poor kids were going to have their hearts broken. And because I work part-time, I knew that I would be there to hold them as they cried.


Rest in peace, Nutmeg. We love you.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.mom-mom-mom.com/2011/08/29/the-morning-i-became-a-douchebag-on-cnn-com-mom-humor-blog/

28 comments

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  1. Patty

    OH NO! What a day your family has had! You need a glass of vodka, more than a half glass. Those comments are NASTY!!! So sorry about Nutmeg. I bet the kids are so sad.

  2. Cols

    Firstly- this picture is darling.. Secondly, your family, friends & loyal readers know you don’t take part-time nor full-time work for granted! Life throws curveballs and you’re talented and strong enough to make the most of it! Cheers to that half-full glass of vodka!

  3. Neighbor 264

    This really is a lesson about judgement gone wild. You are a great wife and mother and what others (and I don’t mean me, cause we all know it’s all about me) think about you doesn’t matter. They don’t know you, we do. And we love you. (Maybe not Nutmeg, but he was only a glorified rat after all) Keep doin what you’re doin.

  4. amy

    Oh man, what a day. I can imagine how you feel, but you have a lot of fans out here! I’m sure you have many more fans than the reporter does. stoopid reporter. Geesh.

  5. Jeanne

    Another great article. Keep ’em coming.

    I always feel compelled to read the comments on OL articles, and I’ve decided they’ve become our latest rage-release vents. For years it’s been our cars. When we get in them, we become much more aggressive, take dangerous chances and we are either screaming at their fellow drivers or giving them “the look” for committing some grievous driving error that we just did two minutes before. “I’m not letting you cut in front of me because your lane is closing, buddy”. Never mind that I just nearly forced a minivan with small children off the road doing the exact same thing.

    Now we comment anonymously online (like anyone really knows who karma18 or cupcakegurl is) and we hurl insults, exaggerations and misconceptions to feel better about all the crap in our lives. I try to make only witty, precise and urbane comments OL, but I’m still hurt when there’s a follow up to my comment that calls me “another mindless Obama minion” or tells me “you must be blonde” ( I am, but it’s straight out of a bottle) mom.mom.mom, you’ve been caught in the crosshairs of a very angry nation, but it’s nothing personal. At least no one called you Hitler.

  6. Karen

    Now these are the comments that I love!

    I tried to go under the radar with the whole article, because I was so mortified. But then, I finally got over myself as the comments became more and more laughable that the story wrote itself. (Well, that and my friend spotted the article on her own and asked me about it on FB. Love ya, Poot!)

    @Jeanne, you are spot on about online comments becoming the new road rage. Yeah, you’re a real bad ass when your name is RealPatriot2 or GlamGal69.

  7. Terrance

    It is not the first time that Karen’s words have been misconstrued.

    In all the years I have known Karen her personalitly is wonderfully vibrant. She is intelligent, funny and a very vocal person. They definitely broke the mold when they made you.

    I love your Blog, you are excellent at describing the insanity of women in the world today. Anyone who knows Karen is blessed to watch her live an honest life. She is true to her family, friends and her artistic soul.

    Long live Freedom of the press — except when it is misused!
    You are the BEST!!!!!

  8. Adventures In Babywearing

    Ugh, so sorry for this moment but I love this post! :)

    Steph

  9. Donna

    Karen, your last paragraph sums up what really matters. I’m sure those comments did hurt but,over time the discomfort they caused will fade away. Knowing you were there for your kids and comforting them when they needed you, will be remembered for a lifetime! Good “job”!!

  10. paula @ frosted fingers

    People can be such assholes online because they hide behind their computer screens. Good for you for having a positive outlook! Screw them. :)

  11. tracey - justanothermommy

    I am so sorry about Nutmeg!

    And the comments? Forget them. They aren’t about YOU, they are about the misrepresented you. I don’t think CNN did it with cruel intentions, but reporters have to spin things sometimes, and maybe this spin made it edgier?

    I would definitely see that they amend the article for your real job description, though.

  12. Tara

    Ditto to all the comments above! Your fans all know you, but the reporter made the article say what he wanted it to say. I guess you are officially a celebrity now being slandered in the tabloids. Next thing, paparazzi stalking you from poop park!

  13. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

    I tell you those “real” journalists just enjoy giving bloggers a bad image! My father was regularly in our local paper as police officer and community leader and he made me afraid to talk to the media because they ‘always get it wrong.’

  14. Sarah

    That sucks! It’s crappy that the reporter twisted things. Try not to worry about the comments; people don’t comment on CNN or those other news sites unless they have something negative to say. Anyone actually interested will come to your blog and read the real story.

  15. kim/reluctant renovator

    Sorry about the hamster. You’ve got a great clip for your media kit (my glass is full of sunshine and rainbows) and you’ve learned 2 important things: 1) reporters are trying to tell their stories, not yours, 2)do not ever bother reading the comments in an article on news sites, especially if they reference you!

  16. Big Daddy

    Don’t under-estimate Yanksville, it’s nice this time of year…

  17. Mia

    RIP–Nutmeg! Forget the rest-it doesn’t matter…let me know if you need help with the vodka…XXOO

  18. Nick

    Stack, good stuff. You got an out-loud chuckle from me as I sit alone. Those comments were bad, but that cheap shot at Tom being “a poor stiff of a loser husband” went too far. He works hard as Mayor of Yanksville.

    1. Da Mayor

      Nicky C., your comments get better and better! I hope all is well!

    2. Karen

      Glad you get the humor, Nick. A certain mutual friend of ours (name rhymes with “Bob”) had to unsubscribe because he thought i was too harsh on the Mayor.

  19. Peg

    None of my pets have died, so I can’t relate to that, but I’m broke and I’m a big fan of Vodka!! ; )

    Don’t let them get ya down K.

    Love ya.

  20. Karen

    You guys are the best — CNN writers will never feel this kind of love! Vodkas on the house!

  21. Amy Mueller

    Oh man. I feel your pain! I once wrote an article about staying-at-home and feeling like I should go back to work and I was heckled right and left! I think it was for the Washington Post. I was so naive. I don’t even know if the article still exists. I had to stop reading the comments. I may go look for it now…

    1. Amy Mueller

      ALSO – I am so very sorry about your hamster. :( That is sad news.

  22. Kim Pugliano

    The other day, I posted a question on my FB about how long unemployment benefits last and when someone told me up to 99 months I responded, “GET A JOB.” This was totally about me. The ex hasn’t worked for 2 years and my child support is a teeny tiny fraction of what it’s supposed to be and he has state-compensated medical insurance and no doctor will accept it anymore within a 40 mile radius. My next door neighbor went on a rant about how she is unemployed and she can’t help it…blah blah blah…she was so angry. My stomach dropped cuz I live next to her and our children play together and I didn’t intend to offend! I WANT MY EX TO GET A JOB THAT’S ALL.

    I explained myself and all is well but I seriously considered never posting an update again. That didn’t last.

    1. Karen

      Oh man, how awful and awkward. And something I would totally do. Hope your ex gets a gig really soon — I can’t imagine the stress you are going thru.

  23. ChiMomWriter

    Oh, Karen. That sucks that he wasn’t clear with you about what the true “angle” of the story was. I got abused on USA today at one point about obsessive mommy issues, but I knew exactly what the reporter was going for and didn’t mind it in that particular situation. (And I paid for it in the comments… My fave was when people started saying my baby was ugly. REALLY, PEOPLE?) Comments are the best AND the worst – and I agree with the note above that people use them as their new place to vent. At the expense of anyone in their path.

    You & me, getting coffee by you. Pick a day!

    1. Karen

      I am flabbergasted! Picking on a baby? A ticket straight to hell. (And I’ve seen pix of your kids and they are super duper cute!!!)
      Yes, I will be taking you up on your offer soon, sista!

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