Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In Praise of Al

I am not an angry person by nature. In fact, those who know me well will probably say that they’ve never seen me angry. Usually, when something upsets me, I just internalize and fume and pretty soon forget what made me so angry. If you asked me to recall the last time I was angry at a person, I probably couldn’t tell you unless you were asking about this morning. Just a little background . . .

Around this time last year, my friend and editing partner Grace Hollen asked me to join a group called the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). She assured me that editors who are serious about getting business join it. I joined. And I’ve been so happy about my membership. I’ve applied for some jobs through the organization, but nothing has materialized yet. I still have one application out, and I would love to get that job; however, even with the references that I have, I doubt that I’ll be hired. That’s okay, though, because I’m now going back to work for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (my old company and the one that I sent the application to) in inside sales, conducting WebEx presentations. As usual, I digress.

One of the perks of being a member of EFA is belonging to the EFA Digest, a group list that comes out almost every day. I have learned so much from the people in this group, everything from how much to charge to errors in the Chicago Manual of Style to whether we should call ourselves copyeditors or copy editors to sharing of jokes about editors. All sorts of helpful as well as funny stuff there! I look forward to reading the list every day, and I have even asked some questions and received great responses, even though I had a terrible typo in my first post (spelled proofreader, proofreaded). No one even mentioned my error, though one person did correct my spelling in the headline before answering me. I liked that!

I have written to several of my co-members in emails . . . personal topics that I didn’t want to share with the whole group and have received kind answers. One of the members, Al Sabado, is a member that I really wanted to get to know because it was very much obvious to me that she is a dynamic Christian. In the public sector, it’s not the usual to find a person who has in her signature John 3:16, written out in words for everyone to see. This Scripture is attached to every post that she makes, and I’m sure it’s on everything that she writes, including correspondence with customers. She’s surely not ashamed of Jesus. Because of her signature, I wanted to get to know her outside the EFA digest. Because of her name, I was afraid to pursue a friendship since I thought she was a man, and I certainly didn’t want a man to interpret my correspondence as “hitting” on him. I bit the bullet, though, and sent an e-mail. I can’t remember if I asked if she had a Facebook page or if I suggested that she get one, but soon I saw a picture of this “man,” Al, on Facebook and discovered that she was a beautiful young Filipino woman. Whew! What a relief.

We immediately became friends and did some sharing of editing business as well as Christian beliefs. I loved her from the beginning, and when I heard about the devasting storm in the Philippines, I, along with members on the digest, was was concerned about her safety. Many days after the storm, one of the members posted that she had heard from Al and that she was safe, having suffered mainly water damage in her house. She had a mess to clean up, but she didn’t lose family members. I think she might have lost a dear friend, though. I gleaned this from something that she said on Facebook.

So back to my anger. I wish I could find her first post after the storm, the one that rankled a few members and caused their vituperative comments about Al. If I remember correctly, she was thanking God for sparing so many even though others were lost in the rain and wind. Those few attacked her for her beliefs and then latched on to their feelings about her signature. My heart broke for her. I even prayed that she wouldn’t see the comments, that she wouldn’t bother to catch up on everything. But in my heart of hearts, I knew she’d read them and that she’d be terribly hurt by them. In my heart of hearts, I also know that she relied on Jesus to get her through. In all of her posts previous to the storm, she has never proselytized; her witness is only in her signature. She has given excellent editing advice, but her advice was never mentioned in the back and forth criticism of her . . . only her relationship to Jesus. I must hasten to mention that there were several members who stood firmly by Al’s side through all of the comments. I couldn’t even tell if any of them shared her beliefs. I do know that Jews and atheists came to her rescue, and I am forever thankful for these friends, these kind people who recognize that all of us are entitled to our beliefs.

Al’s post either today or yesterday is what put me over the top in my anger. This is what she wrote:

Dear listmates,
Thank you for all your messages. I regret that this is going to be my last post here. I wish you all the best.

Al Sabado
Freelance Editor
Your personal editor online...
Marikina City, Philippines
_http://www.alsabadohttp:_ ( (

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -
John 3:16 (KJV)

I cried for at least an hour after reading this. Just could not stop. What an injustice to a sweet, Christian editor! I’d love to post a message on the list pointing members to my blog post to see my feelings about the whole thing; however, I’ve decided that there’s no need to stir the pot any more. Probably wouldn’t do Al any good. I’ll write to her and ask her to read my post. Maybe she will, maybe she won’t.

Al, if you DO read this, just know that your friend Sandy is so sad not to be able to read your posts on the digest but that she is so proud of the mature, Christian way that you handled the whole matter. No venom, just a kind good-bye. I’ll still be asking for your advice through Facebook, and I’ll be counting on your posting more good places for me to link to for editing advice. Your leaving the EFA digest is our loss.