It's always difficult to know when to play and when to be serious. I've made a few mistakes in my life in this particular area.
Once when I was young, I was swinging on a swing in a friends yard. For some reason, I recall that someone was coming to fix something ... I want to say it was the swing, but that doesn't make any sense. Anyway, I'm swinging on the swing and this car stops in front of the house. Guy gets out of the car and heads towards the swing set. And he says to me, holding a wood chip in my face, "How'd ya like me to cram this wood chip down your throat?" I said something sarcastic back, thinking the guy was playing ... He wasn't. He grabbed me by my ear, literally, and made me tell him where I lived. I dragged me by the ear, literally, all the way home (several blocks) where he proceeded to tell my mother that I threw this woodchip at him and hit him in his nose (I'm not kidding). Of course, I hadn't ... but he wouldn't believe me becuase given the opportunity, I decided to be a bad ass. (I was probably 10 or younger).
Moral of the story: Take the high road.
A couple years ago, I was stuck doing PM Tradio and I would constantly play with callers, harassing them ... and them harassing me in return. Well, this kid calls in and makes his voice all gravelly ... like he's using a voice box. "Can you hear me," he said in his mock voice box voice. "I can hear you just fine," I said in my own mock voice box voice. To which he replied, "Don't pick on me," in what I quickly figured out was not a mock voice box voice. And this was not a kid. So, in my attempt to be funny, I mocked a man with a voice box.
And today ...
Anyone who caught today's phone call with Conspiracy Bob heard me pick on him, as I often do. I do it because I like him. Some people find him dry, but he's one of the nicest people I know. And he's one of my favorite callers. I tell him all the time. On air. And I mean it. But towards the end of the phone call with Conspiracy Bob, in which I was picking on him for telling me something that he had just told me a month ago, I heard his voice crack ... in a way that told me he was scared (probably cause he really didn't remember having this conversation a month ago) ... and hurt (cause I was being less than understanding at the time). And when I heard his voice crack, I felt like the biggest ass. And I'm not one to cry, but as I type this, knowing that I hurt someone I care for, it's really hard not to. There are a lot of people that call that show that I pick on, but I like most of 'em. And I wouldn't hurt someone's feelings on purpose, but I DEFINATELY wouldn't hurt Conspiracy Bob's.
Did you laugh at my juvenile antics? It was funny. Honestly, it was. Until his voice cracked. Did you hear it? (It was at 23:12 on the podcast, if you missed it). Did you feel like a jerk, too?
It's like laughing at someone who fell down ... and then you find out that they really hurt themselves. I mean REALLY hurt themselves. And you laughed.
When does funny become hurtful? It's a fine line and I walk it every day. And today I took a big step over it. Sorry, Bob.
Sorry to be such a downer tonight, but I wanted to let people know that I don't want to be a jerk. Not really. I mean, I know I have the persona and all ... but I don't want to hurt people. Especially not ones I like.