There’s One In Every Crowd

As a frequent EMS conference speaker, you learn quickly to develop a thick skin.

Some people enjoy your schtick, some people don't. Some people resent the fact that you challenged some of their most cherished myths, and rate you accordingly on their speaker evaluations. Some don't appreciate your sense of humor.

And some people just don't like anything, about anybody.

I can't think of any conference speaker I know who doesn't welcome constructive criticism. That's how we polish our presentation, after all. We read evaluations, and we do more of what the attendees found useful, and less of what they found off-putting.

And some things we feel passionately about and believe in, we're going to keep on doing and saying, no matter how vigorously a vocal few doth protest. A wise man once told me that if you're not making some enemies, you're not saying anything important.

Among the few (and they actually are pretty rare) negative comments I get on speaker evaluations, they almost always come from people who don't share my sense of humor, and find some of my jokes inappropriate. I understand that. Not everyone in EMS has an off-kilter and irreverent sense of humor. Doesn't mean I'm going to change anything, though. I'll play to the crowd, and if I get 75 comments of "We loved him!" and 3 comments of, "He's an obscene and arrogant hack, and a blight on this profession," I'll cater to the 75 every time.

Years ago, I used to get dinged for my language, but after it dawned on me that not everyone shared my ease with profanity colorful vernacular, I cleaned it up.

But comments from one attendee at a recent conference just floored me. This person accused me of "repeated sexist comments" and "constantly belittling women," and vowed "never to attend one of my presentations again."

Sexist? REALLY?

The kicker is, this was during a presentation on – get this – sepsis. In that entire lecture, there's not even a single reference to gender. Even my jokes were about zombies and Christopher Walken. I even wondered if someone might have evaluated another speaker on my form.

Honestly, it bugged me… for about a nanosecond.

And then I realized, there's one in every crowd, and I got a big chuckle imagining this person (it would be sexist to assume it came from a female) waking up every morning, pouring a big bowl of Fanatic-O's awash in Milk of Righteous Indignation, and setting forth to spend another day desperately in search of a reason to be offended.

Such people exist in EMS, but thankfully they are very few. You can usually spot them by their perpetual scowl of disapproval and their long string of ex-partners profoundly grateful for the ex modifier.

You'd think they'd welcome any help in extracting that large stick up their asses, but you'd be wrong.