The eastern end of Long Island is full of fascinating history. Nazi saboteurs landed here during World War II. Captain Kidd buried treasure here. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Gardiner from East Hampton girl married a President of the United States while he was in office. Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders were here. Marilyn Monroe summered here. Thomas Edison built a factory on the beach here to extract iron from the sand. Richard Nixon summered here.
Hundreds and hundreds of books have been written about these doings and many others. These books can be found in local libraries. And many can be found in private libraries of local residents. There’s quite a few people who collect these books. And I’m one of them. I’m from time to time on the lookout to find rare books about this area.
Because of this, about five years ago, I had a brief encounter with the owner of a used bookstore in Bellmore, Long Island. I don’t recall how I first came across him. It might have been that he contacted me. And I have never been to his bookstore. But in any case, we exchanged emails. He asked if I would be interested in a book he had for sale about East Hampton and I said I might. He told me what it was and I told him I had that book. He told me he had another book and he gave me a price for it and I bought it. About a year later, by email, he mentioned he had another book. This was one I was not particularly interested in, but I thought if it was a few bucks I’d buy it. I told him that. He wrote back that he wanted $150 for it. I wrote back that was much too much. If he had anything else that came along, let me know.
In response, he sent me this remarkable email:
“Since you seem to consistently not respond to my emails it is no longer cost-effective for me to let you know about books/papers that you might be interested. In plain English, Mr. Rattiner, I seem to be losing money on you.”
And that was that.
I did not hear from him for years after that. But I never forgot this remarkable email. Here was somebody in business to sell books. My not buying one got him mad. I was a waste of time. Hah!
I joined LinkedIn recently. But I hadn’t used it. Strange people I did not know were contacting me, asking me to link up. I really had no reason to do that. Indeed, it was kind of creepy. Last night, I clicked on it on my cell phone to see what was what, and there was a message. Would I like LinkedIn to go through my address book and show me the names of people I knew who were on LinkedIn? I thought sure, at least I know those people, why not?
In moments, the group of people was assembled. I have over 5,000 contacts. Those on LinkedIn went on and on. There were hundreds. I scrolled down to see their pictures and their names and came across people I hadn’t contacted in years. Mark Levinson, for example. He’s Kim Cattrall’s ex-husband. Last I heard he’d moved to Switzerland. Where was he now? I should contact him. I scrolled down further. The list was just beginning.
At the top, LinkedIn had a message for me. Check off who you would like to contact, it said. Or check ALL if you would like to contact all. I thought, oh what the hell, I knew these people, and I clicked ALL.
Within minutes, I got a message from the bookseller in Bellmore from long ago.
“Dear Mr. Rattiner. You remember me of course. What is the reason for the change in attitude? Amnon Tishler.”
I thought long and hard about what to say to this. On one level, I was delighted to hear from him. On another level—he’d been thinking about me for five years? And what attitude was he talking about? I of course HAD an attitude about his last correspondence to me, uh, five years ago. But I did not want to get into that. So I lied.
“I do not have any attitude toward you,” I wrote.
He was, however, ready to pounce.
“Re: Mr. Rattiner, why? Please call me or leave me a number to discuss our past and hopefully future business relationships. Email won’t do in this particular case. Thanks, and waiting…”
I got up from the computer and walked around for a little while in the living room. My wife noticed. What’s bothering you? she asked. Nothing, I told her. I returned to the desk and sat back down. I took a deep breath.
“I am happy to communicate with you by email,” I wrote. “I use the phone as little as possible now.” (This is a lie.) “If you have something you think I might be interested in, put it in writing and I’ll consider it. Dan”
Three minutes went by. No response. And then, there was this.
“No Dan. Won’t do. Email is not cost effective beyond a certain point. If you want to have business relations with me you will call. No emails. Period.”
I am getting myself sucked into this, I thought. I looked at the phone. If I call him, my life will be over. He will have complete control over me. But I have to see this through. What to do? I know. I will fight fire with fire. People like this, they respond to strength. Show strength.
“I feel the same way about email,” I wrote. (A lie.) “We are at an impasse. Do not contact me again.”
Come on, man, I dare you. Come on, I told you not to contact me again. Pull the trigger. Get in the last word. You can do it. And he did.
“Let me remind you: you contacted me. Thanks for wasting my time: bad return on investment. Annon.”
Ahh. It’s the exact same phrase. He pushed the button and it spit it out. Exactly the same as five years ago. He must have this as an automatic response. He pushes the button. The end.
So now he had defied me. I had asked him not to contact me again. He declined to not contact me again.
I have this mad urge. No, sir, I did not contact you, my LinkedIn contacted you. It just happened. I said do not contact me again. And you did. And now you are going to get it.
And I thought, get what? And so I never wrote that. And that is where the matter now stands.
I do realize, by the way, that I am giving Amnon something he never asked for. Publicity in a paper is a wonderful thing. And now I’ve done it. If you want to buy a rare book and clash swords with Amnon Tishler, here’s your chance. Here is his full information:
Booklovers Paradise, 2972A Merrick Road, Bellmore, NY 11710. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 516-221-0994.
Tell him I sent you.