This is long but worth it because a.) it’s entertaining and b.) everyone has sent an email that they’ve immediately regretted, so pay attention.

My predicament has far too many ‘shoulda asked Chea (or somebody other than me) before I did that’ stuff to even mention. But, hey, I’m desperate and mildly depressed about what I’m about to consult you about so, here goes.

First off, I’m a professional jazz musician who has worked the proverbial ‘blue collar’ scene for the greater part of my career, but have (through the magic of a lot of ‘doin time’ passing in the wind and a very loving and supportive wife) elevated into the ‘white collar’ scene if you will.

The crux of my issue is having to do with wishing I hadn’t hit ‘send’ after writing an email that cussed someone out for pushing me to my limit regarding the mixed conditions of a gig I got him on that put them in a ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ simultaneously. This cohort has been more of a white collar “name cat” then me and happens to have a pregnant wife who is friends with my wife, our 4 years olds play together etc. Him and I have been friends (for the most part)for about 10 years.

I hired him on a high profile show business gig that was a charity event sponsored by the Friars Club. There were major celebrities involved and I was musical director for one of them (a powder blue collar gig one might say). I got him in the band as a featured soloist in this portion of the event, for which he was paid handsomely directly after the event. Thinking that I was doing him a favor (with the baby on the way and all), I recommended him to the contractor for the rest of the event who hired a horn section to play behind all the featured artists as needed. This involved paid rehearsals that started at 12 noon and went until 5:00. The event started at 7:00 and went until 11:00. At the end of the day, that part of the gig, which I explained as paying ‘union scale’ (I may given the impression of that being more than what it actually is, thinking he would think of me as a more of a good guy?— I don’t think sometimes and underneath it all my insecurities sometime preclude my literalness which leads to minor innocuous exaggerations… but in the end, union scale is what it is… all he needed to do was check with the union and then decide) would pay my friend roughly as much as what I paid him for play 15 minutes on the segment I was directing, which isn’t bad in the ‘blue collar’ biz. I offered it to him as a gesture of friendship because I thought he could use the cash. Having hovered more or less in the ‘blue collar’ world myself for most of my career, I guess I didn’t see the potential for a serious ‘collision of worlds’.

My friend took the gig because he said he could use the money but I guess he had the idea that since I recommended him, that meant I was acting as his sub-contractor and I’d make sure he got the ‘white collar’ bread. But that is not what it was. I let him know it was paying union scale from the start.

When he got the check, after the customary 2-3 week ‘blue collar’ wait, he was outraged at being “grossly underpaid” and shot me a few angry emails that were threatening the security of the ‘powder blue’ line I tread in the music business in order to make a living. BTW, I happen to have a Jazz record on the international air waves and on the charts presently… an honorable “name” situation I have never known before. This friend of mine in question has had numerous releases on the airwaves and has an established name in Jazz.

I won’t necessarily see any monetary profits for this honor any time soon, so the ‘blue collar’ circuit is important to me, and I need to keep my connections cool in that arena. I said I’d look into it for him but I gave him the office number and reminded him that I was not officially the sub-contractor and that I explained what type of paying gig it was. He started referring to the contractor as a “low life creep” and asked me to demand from him and his company twice as much as what he was paid. This persisted to at least three long agitated emails from him to me. In a moment of 2.5 cocktails or so and/or the ‘been going like a magic daddy’ all day exhaustion equivalent, I replied to him with a scathing commentary about his ingratitude and his thick-headedness regarding the actual terms of the gig. I’m pretty sure there was a also fair amount of negative transference having to do with years of frustrations with how my own career has progressed (which in itself is a time bomb waiting to explode) in my reply as well.

Now, I am the jerk… even though HE was the original jerk. As the 2.5 drinks wore off, I started to realize that I probably should have taken a few deep breaths and not hit send. I feel that there is no way to mend this. I said stuff that I have heard directed at me at one time or another for “being difficult” for say, asking that they tune the piano. I was called everything in the book for that one. The word around that scene was, “Don’t hire him, he thinks he’s Keith Jarret.”

I tried to apologize, but it just landed on deaf ears. I was thinking of asking my wife to try to smooth it out a little by telling him about what she terms as my “borderline personality”… which she loosely describes as this: when someone asks me to pass the butter, I think they mean, “You don’t need any more butter you fat pig.”

What do you think, is this just a pathetic move by a guy who must go ahead and learn the hard way once again, or being that it is aiming at a peaceful resolution, am I asking her to simply act as a peace maker? Or should I start therapy as soon as humanly possible, or some or none or all of the above?

Yours truly,

The artist formally known as:
Blue Collar Jazz Bob

Oh, Blue Collar Jazz Bob.

If you’ve been friend with this guy for ten years, I’m sure he has some inkling of the extent of your mental illness, and is probably sitting at home fretting about his own heat-of-the-moment messages. It’s not a hopeless situation at all: just call him. Give him enough time to cool off, call him on the phone when you’ve had zero drinks, and say, “I sent that email before I thought it through. I’m sorry. Let’s work this out.” Then leave out the who said what when, say, “I’m sorry, I thought I had made it clear that the pay was union scale,” and stick to that. Don’t engage in any other blame-related conversation. Apologize sincerely for what you did wrong (no one likes to be called high-maintenance, especially people who are high maintenance), and say as little as possible otherwise.

I would like to point out that you’re so busy worrying about your own inappropriate behavior and possible insanity that you’re not fully realizing that your friend is a total wack-job. Who sends THREE angry emails complaining about how much he got paid to a friend who GOT HIM A JOB? A crazy person, that’s who.

The original jerk might respond well; he might respond poorly. Your beautiful, supportive wife can help you if he doesn’t react well to your phone call, but I’m guessing she’s going to have lunch with the wife of the original jerk and they’ll both just sit there rolling their eyes about the fact that two grown men are in an email fight. It seems bad now, but really, it’s going to blow over.

The next time you have 2.5 d drinks, go find your beautiful, supportive wife and hand her your laptop with strict instructions to not let you use it until morning. Also, Gmail has a Mail Goggles feature that forces you to do math problems at night before you send an email. Perhaps you should look into this.

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