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Don’t Ever Mess With Samuel L. Jackson

How I live with the memory of my gracelessness: my most embarrassing story yet.

Podcast Episode #21

My name is Naomi Shibles and I’m here to tell you Why I Need This Author Gig.

With each episode, I’ll share a little bit about my writing journey, sprinkled with some anecdotes so that we can share a laugh.

In this episode, I cover:

  • NYC and creativity

  • Transportation fails

  • A decade of shame

  • How it feels to annoy Samuel L. Jackson

hands with red nails covering face
Image by octavio lopez galindo from Pixabay


Hello Friends!

As you know, I sometimes share stories about random interactions that I’ve had with various celebrities—that never seem to go well.

I’ve been dreading sharing this one with you, because you might not like me for it afterward. I, for one, will never forget the shame that I felt when I lived through it. I guess it’s time to spill it:

My last big job that I had in New York City before I had my son was ‘eHealth Content Manager’ at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. I never felt like the title did me justice. My job was to be responsible for all digital content across the entire medical system, including managing a team of writers, implementing an internal digital communication ecosystem for all 18,000 employees, and co-captaining a complete website relaunch. It was a


Now, back in the 00’s, most creative jobs in NYC operated like this: every last drop of creativity and verve is squeezed out of you in the name of commerce, in exchange for occasional theater tickets. I’m kidding—a little bit.

Poster for the play, The Mountaintop
The Mountaintop starred Angela Bassett & Samuel L. Jackson.

So one day my boss kindly offered me Broadway tickets to see The Mountaintop starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson for that evening. Amazing, right? (They were both super-duper amazing!) I called my husband, whose office was near Wall Street—the opposite end of the city from where I was—and let him know to meet me near the theater so that we could make the show.

I boarded the subway from the Bronx after work and began the trundling journey to Bryant Park in Manhattan, a 10-minute walk from the theater. I met up with my husband. And then it began to rain. A driving rain. A rain that is almost impossible to walk in. Any of you who have tried to hail a cab in the rain in NYC knows that you might as well hop on the back of a unicorn and canter away.

Now, what I’m about to tell you has haunted me for more than a decade. But I’m not going to make excuses. Everyone else made it to the show on time, so the rain is no excuse. That doesn’t make it hurt less.

So, the show had started, and there was no intermission, so the usher went ahead and sat us. My husband and I were soaked to the bone after slogging through a monsoon for three city blocks. Our umbrellas had flipped inside out. Our shoes were squishy. Our hair was streaming. It was already a tough start.

On stage, Samuel L. Jackson was delivering his lines to Angela Bassett—genius percolating—when he stopped, mid-sentence, turned his head, and pinned us with a contemptuous stare. So then Ms. Bassett stared at us to see what he was looking at. Then the audience turned to see what had stopped the entire freaking show.

Did I mention that the tickets were pretty good? That meant that the walk down the stairs to our seats was a long one. We had to climb over people who were already seated. Everyone hated us.

And still he stared.

You know those Nick Fury scenes where Mr. Jackson says it all with one furious look. I know that look. I have personally received that look. And I relive it every time my kid puts on a Marvel movie, when I see a Pulp Fiction poster, when he pops up in Star Wars. He is everywhere. And so, I regularly relive the shame I felt for being careless, rude, thoughtless…all the things I don’t want to be.

It’s humbling. So humbling.

There you have it, Friends, possibly my most terrible celebrity run-in of them all.

I won’t post an episode next week because I’m headed to a family reunion in L.A. Maybe I’ll run into Samuel L. Jackson there, and have a chance to apologize.

If you have an embarrassing story that haunts you—or always gets a laugh—please tell me about it in the comments! Or am I really the only one who gets into these scrapes??

Tell me, who would be the worst celebrity to offend? Vote in the poll!

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