When the phone rang, I knew it was trouble.
I had just emailed a woman information she did not want to hear. I had to inform her the last cupcake was sold and I had no more cupcakes (I am choosing to use cupcakes as an analogy because the whole story is long and boring and cupcakes are delicious. FYI, this had nothing to do with writing or travel life — just mundane living stuff).
I knew the call was going to be trouble because immediately after sending my cupcake-less email, I had received multiple, increasingly hostile, emails from her in the previous ten minutes before my cell phone frantically vibrated. She was sad about not having a cupcake. She wanted me to give her a cupcake, anyway. She demanded a cupcake. Knowing this, I answered the phone anyway. I got more than what I had expected. She complained and yelled and went crazy. I tried to explain but she didn’t want explanations. She wanted a cupcake –- even though they were all gone.
After twenty long minutes, I told her there were other bakeries and other cupcakes and wished her well in her cupcake quest. Later I received yet another long, upset email. The smart thing would have been to say nothing, but I had to respond. It was a compulsion and I had to answer her letter. Also, I was annoyed. I went to write an angry letter of my own.
Here are the stages of writing out the anger in an angry letter:
The First Draft
Here is where the finger pointing, judgment, sarcasm and cleverness all shine. There are many flowing sentences and hundreds of unnecessary words. The key descriptive word here is “rambling.” I keep the first draft down to three pages.
I really do not want to be mean. So, I remove all the mean stuff (and edit down to a single page). However, I want to prove I am right, because I am right. I want to defend giving away the last cupcake. It was my damn cupcake, after all.
Perhaps I am being defensive, I ask myself. I probably am. I rewrite the letter again. I want a softer approach, because really I understand. I like cupcakes too. However, there is something to be learned here and I want to show her that I care and I am a good guy.
I write a letter filled with altruism and virtue, because I am a good guy, right? I realized that during all my rewrites, because no one gets the last cupcake all the time. My explaining why I have no cupcake for her will not fix her need for a cupcake. I am only writing this letter for me, which requires very little explanation.
The Actual Letter
Dear Jerky Jerkface,
Again, I am sorry it didn’t work out and I wish you all the best..
Note to reader: Jerky Jerkface was replaced with the recipients real name.
I felt so much better.