In my job, I spend a fair amount of time writing letters. Letters to teachers, letters to parents, letters to vendors, recommendation letters…you name it, I’ve probably written it. Twice. I once had to write a letter to a parent requesting that she please not allow her 3-year-old son to urinate against the wall outside the school.
Today I had the privilege of replying to a letter that was written to the director of the school. The letter was from a former employee, requesting to be paid her remaining 58.50 hours of vacation time. It was one of those moments when I found myself thinking, “Just how much crack did she smoke before sitting down to write this letter?”
Here is a little background information on the situation. On Tuesday, May 1st at approximately 11:30 am (on a school day!), the employee in question walked up to my boss, handed her a hastily-written note resigning her position, and left the building. This woman was an assistant teacher for a classroom of twenty-five 3-6 year old children, and she left in the middle of the morning with no notice and no warning.
Imagine my surprise as I read a letter that sounded more like it was from an employee who retired after 57 dedicated years of service than from a person that abandoned her job a little more than a month before the end of the school year. The letter opened with “Greetings!,” ended with “Respectfully Yours,” and was chock-full of ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’ in between. Unfortunately, all the little niceties weren’t enough to mask the fact that she’d quit her job. Who in their right mind would actually expect to get paid vacation time for walking out???
Have you ever had to write a letter that was so completely stupid that it took everything in you not to say in the letter, “I cannot believe you are wasting my time with this idiocy”? When a person proves to be particularly moronic, I have been known to write a second letter, in which I say everything I wish I could say in the real letter. While it’s not quite as satisfying as actually sending the second letter would be, there is a kind of catharsis in seeing the words on the screen. Maybe one day I will create a compilation of all of my *real* letters and call it “What I *meant* to say was…”