Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Notebook Therapy

There is some good advice floating around out there about how when you are mad and want to say something to someone, just to get it off your chest, that you should write them a letter, on paper, then put it away, at least until you've had one night to sleep on it.  The next day, read your letter.  If you still feel the same, put it away for one more day, and if, on the third day, you still want to say all of those things, and have a good grasp on the consequences that would follow your saying them, then go ahead and send it.
It is incredibly helpful advice.  In today's world, where you can shoot off an angry email in the time it takes you to type it, we don't give nearly as much thought to how our brain dump will end up playing out as we did in the days where letters on paper were the norm.  (I like to joke that the reason William Shakespeare was such a great writer was because the act of writing on paper was so labor-intensive at the time--he thought long and hard before committing anything to the page.) 
As a society, we're quite used to spouting off and letting the chips fall where they may.  I know I am, and I have used this blog as a place to vent on many occasions.  It is not longer required that you be particularly amusing or talented before we give you the keys to the publishing world and let you have at it, although some of us do try.  Speaking as one of those, I must say that I feel positively old-fashioned.  But that's a different post...
Yesterday, I was in a particularly pissy mood, and there was a particular organization directly responsible for that pissy mood.  In my head, I thought it would be a very good idea to give them a piece of my mind.  You know how that goes, right?  So I started writing a letter, in a notebook.  It was one of those letters that you write to somebody's boss's boss's boss--one of those, "let me tell you what your people have been up to" type of letters.  The enormity of their ridiculousness was just too overwhelming not to say something.  I was incredibly motivated.
And it was a damned good letter.  I laughed, I cried, I called friends to read it over the phone.  I was proud of it.  I remained calm, did't use any profanity, and explained things in a perfectly delightful, positive way.  My intended result was that my words would cause the unfortunate recipient to become overwhelmed with guilt, as if they had just pushed Pollyanna in front of a bus, and I completely pulled it off.  If I was a boss and got a letter like that, I would have fired my entire department.
This morning I read my letter and decided that the recipient is not worthy of such a perfectly crafted "fuck you".  It's not that, after sleeping on it, I don't think they are completely inept and stupid anymore--they most definitely still suck.  In fact, I am of the mind that they suck so bad that it may actually be beneath me to engage them in further conversation.  That's how bad they suck.  But remember...even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.  Since it is not a matter of life or death, well....I'm just going to let them suck, while I watch from a safe distance.
I threw my little work of art in the shredder.  I'm glad I wrote it in a notebook.  If I had actually sent it, via email or something, some supervisor somewhere would have scrambled to solve my "problem" for me, and I would have ended up doing MORE business with people who don't deserve my time.  And because they suck, they would have eventually screwed something up again, and this would have caused me to spout off some more and get another apology, but they would still suck, and blah, blah, blah, round and round we go.  Then I'd be rightfully pissed at myself for having wasted so much time dealing with assholes.  I feel a million times better having written it, however.  Notebook therapy.  It's a beautiful thing.


  1. If I kept every letter I wrote but never sent complaining about dreadful customer service I could fill a notebook. Like you I just cross those people off my list of places to shop or do business with. Makes my life much easier.

  2. I have a friend who had a bad habit of sending out what we began to refer to as "Drive-Bys". Now, she sends them to me first and I say "yay" or "nay". Usually, sending it to me is cathartic enough.

  3. The key to doing the letter thing, I think, is really the "give it a day" method...and I say that as someone who is UNBELIEVABLY OVER THE TOP annoyed by bad customer service.

    Customer service is not difficult work--I've done it. Literally ALL there is to the job is that you have to give a shit. That's it! Nothing more! And there are sooooo many people doing it who shouldn't be. To any major company, this one included, it is the area in which they want to spend the least money. Customer service people make the smallest salary of anybody in any major company, with the possible exception of the cleaning service. They are trained in what the answers are, but they are not required to be at all curious about anything more than what they were told, and THAT is why most customer service people suck--they don't care enough to want to learn more. Many care just barely enough to show up.

    I do sympathize, because there are plenty of people who call and are angry, but the reality is, most people, like me, just call wanting an answer to something, and END UP angry because we end up dealing with someone who doesn't give a shit. And THEN, they have the audacity to get PISSED at you when you ask to be transferred to someone who CAN answer your question. This is not rocket science! You're supposed to SERVE THE CUSTOMER--if you can't answer the question, that doesn't make the question go away! Find someone who CAN answer it. Jeeez...I really can't talk about this stuff without getting pissed.


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