Maybe because this is Seattle, and maybe because I mostly write about arts, but I don't tend to get yelled at. The worst I get is usually a stern whining.
But there have been a few yellers over the years. The first (that I remember) was from Pacific Northwest Ballet, just months (or maybe weeks) after I got hired as the theater editor. I'd written a tiny calendar item about the ballet's annual Nutcracker, saying it was designed by Maurice Sendak and choreographed by Colonel Gaddafi. It was a total whim—not a commentary on PNB or North Africa or anything—but the p.r. person at the time was pissed and called me up during an editorial meeting. The receptionist explained what it was about over our phone-intercom. I was about to say I'd call her back but Dan Savage, my new boss, lit up with impish glee and said he'd take the call—while the entire staff was sitting around listening.
I turned red with shame and despair. This was my death knell. I'd be fired as soon as the call was over.
Dan picked up the phone and had a brief conversation. I don't remember what he said, but I remember him grinning through the whole thing and saying something like: "You hear a 'smile in my voice' because it's ridiculous—it's a joke." He hung up, told me (again, in front of everyone) that it was fine, and that if I wasn't pissing people off I wasn't doing my job.
I consider that my Stranger christening. (That, and getting spanked by Mistress Matisse in her dungeon for a story.)
* Here's a yelling voicemail I still keep around: "Hey you little fucking dick, I wanna fucking eat shit out of your poophole, I wanna fuck you so fucking hard, nah but it's [incomprehensible]. Call me at 1-800-GO FUCK YOURSELF, biiiiiiitch! And I like it in the ass." I'm not sure which story the caller was referring to.
* Director Bart Sher once called me from Europe, where he was directing an opera, to yell at me about perceived slights in this article I'd written about Sheila Daniels when she was hired at Intiman. (A position she left soon thereafter). The conversation started off angry but ended up nice and friendly. That's my favorite kind of yeller—one who's pissed off at the moment but isn't welded to his pissed-offedness, and is happy to move on once things get talked out.