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JAN
23

In Honor of National Handwriting Day

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JUN
10

Thank You For Writing

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I got home this evening from a very taxing day at work to find a thank-you note in my mailbox. You all know how I feel about thank-you notes. (See On Thank-you Notes if you've forgotten.) A dying art, surely, but one I feel is so, so necessary. It's just the principle of the thing. And it makes us decent.

Of course, no one is unfamiliar with the concept. You send someone a thank-you note when they have either given you something or done something for you. Which is why today's mail was a bit confusing. The woman who sent it--from my hometown in Oregon--included the following note in the card:

"I loved your first book. Always enjoy reading it. Have just read bits of your new one - just want to say thank you so much. I know I'll enjoy."

Now, you'd think from this note that I gave her a copy of my second book. Not only did I not give her a copy, but I also can't even put a face to this woman's name. I'm not sure I've even met her. Or if I have, it's been many years. But she sent a thank-you note to thank me for writing books. For giving her something to read that she enjoys so much. She wrote the note in loopy cursive, sealed and put my name on the envelope, then gave it to my mother who filled in my address and sent it on its way. The whole thing has an endearing amount of small-town charm regardless, but eclipsing this is the fact that upon returning home from a day when I managed to solve exactly zero problems at work, my spirits couldn't have been more lifted.

Unless there'd been, like, $1 Million in the mailbox. I guess there's always tomorrow.

JUN
12

Writing Letters

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It's a lost art, really. I remember one of my favorite things to receive as a child was stationary, all kinds, the more options I had to choose from the better. I remember exchanging letters with my little friends once I moved to Oregon, how excited I was when a letter arrived, how quickly I responded in the hopes that their responses would be just as quick. I remember how depressed I became one day when after opening the mailbox I found not a letter from one of my friends, but the letter I had put in the box the previous day, now with a note scribbled on the corner from the mailman: "Needs stamp." Epic fail. And now my forgetfulness had cost me a whole day.

Email has of course eliminated the old-fashioned letter almost entirely (as well as the company Christmas card), and now the days where I actually get a personal piece of mail are very rare. I'm sure we could all say the same thing. Which is why the last month has been a treat for me. I'm temporarily only able to communicate with my brother via letters, and in this day and age, what an experience that is. I look forward to his letters, knowing each one involved him taking the time to write out his thoughts on pen and paper. His handwriting, small and at times hard to read, is a piece of him, and at the risk of sounding gag-ably trite, I think there's something about writing letters that really bonds people. So write one. Today. And don't forget the stamp.

DEC
21

The Office Christmas Cards

This is the first year since working at my company that I've been in the sales department. It's been an immensely satisfying year, as I've loved building relationships with my customers. And I've been looking forward to the holiday season in particular, as I knew it would involve the company springing for some holiday goodies I could send my customers' way. Imagine my horror when our Marketing Communications department sent out an email with instructions on how we could send holiday e-cards to all our customers.

I'm sorry. I think I just hallucinated.

E-cards? We're a Fortune 500 company touting our stellar customer service and we can't be bothered to send our customers real, handwritten cards of appreciation for their business? I'll have you know that I deleted the MarComm email and proceeded to write out real cards to send with each box of goodies. I thanked them each for their business, told them how much I'm looking forward to working with them next year, and included a funny little aside based on our interactions this year that I hoped would give them a laugh.

And it worked like a charm. Even one of my more difficult customers who I've never been able to get anywhere with was in hysterics over how funny my little aside was. And that is the power of words. The power of writing. The power of tailoring your remarks rather than sending out a mass message. In a society where these kinds of gestures (and writing by hand in general) are less and less common, I hope people will come around, get back to basics, and realize that not everything is better in web form. E-cards, ppppsssshhh. Try again next year, MarComm.

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