Do Me A Favor

When did this request become the preamble to an insult?

I get emails every day from wonderful people who have interesting, insightful observations about our community.  Sometimes they agree with something I have written and sometimes they disagree vehemently.  But these emails are exciting and valuble to me.

And sometimes I get other emails.  These sometimes begin, "Dear Julie" or "Mrs. von Angen."  That is how I know that I am about to hear from some of my most careful readers.  The first sentence often begins, "Do me a favor..."

What comes next is never a request to look into a facet of our community which has been overlooked or to refrain from taking so lightly a subject which is tender to the reader's heart.  I am never being asked to provide more information or even to water the plants while their family is on vacation.

Almost without exception, "Do me a favor..." is followed by some verbal smackdown. 

"Do me a favor and shut up about your kids." 

"Do me a favor and stick to your day job whatever that might be."

"Do me a favor and learn the first thing about the first thing when it comes to my HVAC system's benefits before you make fun of RELAC again."

And I am always careful to respond.  This is my community and my whole goal is give people an opportunity to feel that it is being accurately represented in Reston Patch

So, I have replied to anyone who has felt that I have misrepresented some aspect of the gestalt of Reston that they should consider making their voice heard.  You try it.  Write something for Patch and I'll ask my editor to run it.

And they never do.  In fact, those cheeky monkeys are always coming back at me with responses which include the fact that they already have full-time jobs and a family and thus do not have time for any additional keystrokes in their lives.  They are careful to mention that writing for Patch is not lucrative and that it is not a significant enough forum for their perspectives. 

Don't I understand that?  Yes, I do.  I also have a job and a family and a bank account and an ego.  And yet I still wake up every weekday and cobble together something which might make you smile.  

I believe in this publication and I believe in my forum.  So, I make the time to do this and accept that the process is its own reward.

I am so pleased with the responses I have received from so many of you.  You have all made me think about the responsibilities of citizenship.  But for those few who wish to make me feel humbled or demeaned by the irrelevance of this endeavor, I would simply like a smalll indulgence from you.

Do me a favor and show some respect.

Friends of the Reston Regional Library June 11, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Dear Miss Julie Van Ongen, I think you are very funny and I like your columns even though I don't work and sit around and eat bon bons all day. Seriously, just look at those letters, ask if there's a kernel of truth in them, decide whether it matters, and toss 'em. Some people aren't happy unless they're complaining. Some people were born deficient of a sense of humor. And some people are just jealous that you seem to be funny without trying.
Justine van Engen June 11, 2011 at 08:40 AM
Dear Kelly Wurstenheff, Will you share some of your bon bons with me? Will you tell me what bon bons are? Anything which just repeats the French word for "good" twice must be delicious. You are right and I will try to remember your sage advice.
Marge Shapira June 12, 2011 at 03:54 PM
tried sending a msg to you but forgot my password. so my "do-me-a-favor" is to please keep on truckin'. you write some fun stuff and as my dad used to say, whether it's "good, bad or indifferent", it's still good reading and informative and remember some people just wake up cranky and want to spread it around. it's a great read for local events, for reston and herndon that you can't find anywhere else. besides that, my daughter's significant other also writes for PATCH and seeing a name you recognize is a real plus. keep it up; your audience is waiting for more. regards,marge shapira herndon
Justine van Engen June 12, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Marge, Well, you definitely did not "wake up cranky" and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support. It is good to hear that Patch is important to you. Thanks!
Christine June 14, 2011 at 01:50 PM
Please don't let the nasty comments/emails get to you. Some people are just hateful and my thought is if they don't like it, then they don't need to read it. My husband is currently deployed and besides missing his family, he really misses Reston. We both read the Patch (he was actually the one who told me about it). He loves reading what is going on in his community while he is away. Your columns make me smile every time they are posted and I also smile because I hope that many many miles away my husband is smiling too.
Justine van Engen June 14, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Christine, I am so pleased to hear that you and your husband are reading Patch together across the miles. I hope that you and he have a safe and happy reunion very soon and please let him know that our entire community thanks him for his service and thanks you too. Military spouses are unsung heroes.
Amanda Hamm June 14, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Hi Mrs. van Engen! Although I have not been with the Reston Patch for very long (just since April) I have to say I really enjoy reading your articles. A lot of them do not pertain to anything I come across in my daily life but it is nice to read about topics that are affecting other people, etc. I find it amusing that some of the people emailing you about how you are "wasting your time" writing for the Patch, are the ones who are READING the Patch. If this media source is beneath them or they are tired of reading about your kids, why are they reading articles on here anyway?? Obviously they are not as busy as they make out to be or they wouldn't have the time to disrespect you for your choice of medium. As one of the readers above mentioned, there will always be people who feel the need to complain. And those will be the ones who words fall on deaf ears. :)
Justine van Engen June 14, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Amanda, First of all, Mrs. van Engen is my mother-in-law's name. I'm Justine and you may certainly call me that. Secondly, you are very kind to offer your support and I hope you continue to enjoy Patch. Thirdly, I am laminating this stream of comments and putting it in my wallet for the next time I am feeling sad.
Frank Sogandares June 14, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Hello Ms. Ljudmilla von Englestomp I think the "IB" and the phrase International Baccalaureate programs are fantastic... because, you can never have too many angry crackpots
Karen Goff June 14, 2011 at 07:33 PM
What he said, Julie.
Aalliiee Marie June 16, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Hi Juliana, I could never live without your column. I hope to someday be as...................................interesting.................with my writing as you have been, but not have as "colorful" language as a certain 4-year-old who attends Reston Children's Center. ;) (Basically, I want my writing to be as illustrious as yours is, and has Poe been hanging around the freshman locker pod at South Lakes recently? If so, can I give her a tour?)
Maria Koklanaris Bonaquist June 17, 2011 at 01:02 AM
AM, Judging by your writing as you complete your freshman year in high school... some day we will all be bragging that we knew you when you had the time to leave comments on the Patch. :-) It's also to hear that you all have some really great dollhouses around the freshman locker pod. ;-) Frank, I don't have a border anymore., I feel your pain.
Maria Koklanaris Bonaquist June 17, 2011 at 01:03 AM
great to hear, I meant, about the dollhouses. :-)
Justine van Engen June 17, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Amy, You are so flocking adorable!


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