The argument has been made that we all feel like outcasts sometimes. I am quite used to people not “getting” me. I am the quiet guy surrounded by music lovers. The old soul who works with twenty-somethings. The comic book reader who knows lots of gamers.
When people do resonate with what I am doing, it tends to be in my writing. If I can communicate what I am thinking in a way that clicks with others, then I am a happy camper. What better feeling is there than being understood?
When the notion strikes me, I try to write up nice and true things about the people in my life. One time I wrote about my boss, who had to close up his two comic shops and lost his father all to Covid. After I posted my praise on his wall, the note from his mom hit me the hardest.
When I wrote my article about George Floyd last year, it apparently resonated with others. I did not post it to Facebook, but others in my family did. The comments passed on to me were encouraging to say the least.
“Very moving piece and so thoughtful.”
“Please, thank him for me for his: observations, poignant sharing of his thoughts and feelings with ability to communicate those while giving visuals for the rest of us as well.”
“Beautiful… and so true.”
“Oh my! It gave me chills. Your son expresses himself very well.”
I like to be humble. Yet I also like it when people say nice things about my hobby that I care about. Which is not to say that my attempts always succeed.
I was trying to express my gratitude and appreciation for a company and their efforts to vaccinate people. I saw hundreds of people moved efficiently and pleasantly through the grounds and saw them all get their Covid vaccine in an impressive show of the community coming together. I wrote up a page of heartfelt compliments. In return, I was told, “Thanks. We appreciate your hard work.”
Granted, they did not owe me anything. There was no obligation for them even to reply. And it was a valid reply. But it read as perfunctory; like a form letter was jotted off. Our two writings did not click with each other.
Happily, the next day, I received a note that offset the seesaw. I like Tillamook. Their cheese is tasty. I decided to tell them so. I wanted to have a little fun. They received the following note. (Edited for length.)
Look, we have a problem here.
As a child I was raised on Tillamook cheese. Oh sure, we would get a Kraft cheese slice pulled out of suspicious cellophane envelopes and put on our bologna sandwiches every now and then. But we hardly bragged about it. We spent as much time folding the cheese into thick books, watching as the dairy product wobbled and folded a little too easily. In our hearts though, we always knew we were Tillamook people.
Making a casserole with chicken and broccoli? Then make sure it is covered in a layer of medium sharp cheddar from Tillamook. Going the grilled cheese route? I think you can guess the crucial ingredient.
The problem, and the reason I address you today, is you need to stop causing problems in my kitchen.
My cat has caught on. We all know sharing is caring. I am not about to deprive my cat of a nibble of Tillamook here and there. But hopping up on the oven while I am still grating the cheese? She presumes too much. Gobbling at the shredded cheese as I try to spread it on the casserole dish? Rude.
Normally I can sit down and eat about two-thirds of my dinner before being accosted. This is not the case when I have cheese for dinner. The battle starts even before I can set down the plate. The meowing. The standing on hind legs. The, let us be honest here, rather pathetic pleading of a cat who desperately wants an upgrade from the dried cat food she is supposed to be devouring. No, when medium sharp cheddar is on the menu, she is quite adamant about getting her share.
I push her off. I flick water at her forehead. I lift her by that spot in between her shoulder blades. To no avail. We fall just short of hissing and overtures of claws. Included is a picture of her attempting to lick up trace amounts that might have been cheese-adjacent off of the plate. She is out of control.
I leave it up to you. You folks know your product. You know what you have wrought. You are the ones straining the patience I have with my furry roommate. I leave it to you. Either you start cutting corners with your delicious Tillamook cheese, or you start offering suggestions on how to get my cat to back off.
What have you got to say for yourself?”
The reply I read went as follows.
Did they get overly creative and think of a story that involved government organizations using their product to cure humanity as I had hope they would? No. Did they understand that I was trying to make their inbox a little less bland? Yep. They played along with me in the sandbox.
As my manager went off to a new job, I wrote her a note full of rhymes and mirth. She replied with tears and stating that I had touched her heart. The new manager came in and asked that all staff make note of her phone number. That left me no choice but to initiate the following exchange with her.
I heard her laugh and listened across the room as she shared the message with others. I found out that my new boss gets me. She is willing to play along. I like it when others get me.
Like anyone else, I like my efforts to be successful. Sometimes they are. Sometimes my friends will send me notes like this.
I cannot change who I am. Which only makes it all the more rewarding when people respond to what I have to offer.