The ongoing Forum discussion titled, "Friendship", has brought out some unforeseen and for my part, enlightening information about how readers feel about the times that they have met me or have tried to meet me.
I'd like to write about those meeting or attempted meeting experiences, from my perspective. Doing so may, I believe, remove some of the misunderstandings that have happened between myself and readers who have called on me, or attempted to get together with me.
Just an ordinary guy
At the beginning of August, 2003, Tioga and I had only been on-the-road for two months. We got a message from Mike Fousie, a reader who wanted very much to visit MsTioga and see for himself what our Mr. Datastorm looked like. I believe at that time, Mike was a wannabee RVer.
Mike asked us please to wait where we were, and he would drive immediately from Portland, Oregon to our location, 30 miles west. And that's what we did. When Mike drove up to visit with us, he was one of the first [perhaps the first] reader to ever call on us.
I did not really comprehend at that time what was going on. There was no counter on my website. So, I had no clue how many people were following our adventures. I did not feel, nor do I feel now, like a celebrity. I felt like I was an ordinary guy who had information to share. And I wanted very much to do that sharing!
Appointments and dates
The easiest and most acceptable way for us to meet readers is when they simply drop by. Or, when they contact us and ask if it is OK to drop by. However, from time-to-time, a reader will ask to meet us at a certain place, at a certain time. At first we were very happy to make a date like this. But this proved to be a bad idea.
Appointments and dates meant that usually we would be being someplace or doing something that we had not planned. But more important, plans like these often change for the people who want to meet us. For example, they may be late for the date. Or perhaps something came up and they would like to change the location or time of the meeting.
It very soon became clear that making appointments and dates to meet readers just did not work well for us. So, we stopped doing that. If readers wanted to see us, we preferred if they would drop by. Readers who dropped by unexpectedly were most often welcomed. We are happy to see you! If we have something going on, we will usually visit with you and then explain that the visit cannot be too long. An hour maybe.
Criticism and complaints
When we first began to receive criticism and complaints from readers, we were somewhat defensive. Back then I was still working on myself, and really did not know how to handle stuff like that. A reader from Oregon [I sure wish that I remembered his name] wrote and suggested that if I did NOT agree with a reader's criticism, that what that reader wrote to me was really only an opinion. And, this reader went on, I should not be upset by someone's opinion.
I have taken up this suggestion and endorsed it completely. I still feel that way right now about criticism and complaints. In fact, I love to receive these from readers. Because it may give me a chance to provide better understanding between myself and.a particular reader.
Turning down invitations
Sometimes I will refuse an invitation. I do not feel any compulsion to accept an invitation to do something that is offered by a reader. Unfortunately, readers may interpret such a refusal as a sign that I am rude, unfriendly or maybe that I do not have appreciation for their loyalty to following my adventures.
I understand that readers may get the feeling from reading my web pages, that they "really" know me. Because I very much open up about all sorts of intimate details of my life in my writing. And then when a reader tries to get together with me, suggesting that we meet someplace, they may feel insulted by my refusal.
I hope very much that what I have written above gives readers some enlightenment to what goes on in my mind when those who follow my adventures wish to meet me.
Very clear nite sky
Very clear nite sky