A note to my friends in public relations: From time to time you e-mail me with pitches, wild pitches. But I try to read them all before I spike them, especially those that begin with a personal greeting and seem to have been written with me in mind. If they do begin with a 'Dear Daniel' or, even better, a 'Dear Dan,' since only my cousin Bobby called me Daniel and he passed this spring, I give them a shot, because I am kind-hearted, and because twice a week I go into a cold sweat in which I squint to imagine an empty newspaper column, headlined with the words: Rubin failed to come up with anything for today.
I should have known something was up when I responded to a pitch to interview the head of a local lunchmeat operation on the occasion of his family business's 70th birthday. I mentioned that I look for a certain sense of character and place when I fill my bi-weekly space, and that pitches like this only work when the subject or has done something extrordinary or speaks extrordinarily about ordinary things. Or when I'm totally out of fresh ideas. Like that day, for instance.
For 24 hours I heard nothing back.
Even though I mentioned my specifications and my deadline and my interest in further exploring a sit-down with his cold-cut man.
Meanwhile, mortadella slices danced in my head as I imagined what I'd be working on for my Monday column.
Then I got a note back. Seems the pr chap had blind-copied another reporter - pitching two balls at once - and had decided the other was a better placement for his interview. But I was welcome to come on out and tour the plant.
Here the kindly advice part: Do not do this, folks. I don't do it to you. It isn't right. Do it again, and I will be strike down upon thee with great vengeance.