Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Got my first piece of Hate Mail today

I received today, a letter from the County Human Services Office. Said letter was not from anyone there, but rather a re-direction of an improperly mailed letter.

Should have been my first clue not to read it.

All emphasis is entirely as the original writer wrote the letter.

Hammy (not really, but you know),

What innappropriate dress for a public appearance for a publicity chance for the homelessness program.

If you don't have a suit - cotton or linen for summer, a dress with a jacket would be very comfortable for the office and public presentations, and other "dress for dinner" [occasions] in the summer.

Think economical!

Think practical!

Signed, without so much as a "Sincerely," or "Respectfully,"
Old lady name + address.

OK Miss Manners, or whomever you think yourself to be, you have just made me proud of my "white trash" roots, for I have spent far more time and energy on making sure that less fortunate people count and get counted by our community, than I ever would on wardrobe decisions. I favor looking at the BIG picture, far more than what someone is/isn't wearing. You may as well have said, "You can take the girl out of the trailer, but you can't take the trailer out of the girl," in a knowing tone - it'd have had the same efficacy - none. I wonder, now, since my teeth are terribly crooked, does that remnant of my disadvantaged childhood mar my presentations for myopic folks like you as well?

As for etiquette, your letter is horribly off base. You lack a salutation. You lack any gratitude for the work I am doing - is that even of importance to you? And decorum, wow - didn't know it had become fashionable to just berate someone....I thought constructive criticism was the target? Finally, you lack a closing, as I mentioned above.

You probably preached to young ladies that it wasn't what was on the outside but rather what was on the inside that counted....wonder if they heard that, or this type of message instead? Who cares how noble your work is, who cares how many people you help, you better be dressed to the nines when you address the public? I wonder, did Mother Teresa spend much, if any, time on this? Hmmmmmm. And yet she was blessedly effective, eh? Hmmmm.

Are you well-to-do? I think you must be, for it may not have crossed your mind that I have two small children, a husband, and countless other things that are far more pressing to me. I do not have a maid to clean my home, I do not have a nanny for my children, I do not have an etiquette/wardrobe consultant who ensures not only the proper garb for each and every occasion, but that it is cleaned and pressed as well. I try, and usually do a fair job of it, to see to these things on my own.

Are you Christian? If so, why don't you crack your bible out and look these up:
Luke 7:24-25 - I'm not in any palace here, nor do I want to be about that.
James 2:1-4 - So since I wasn't dressed to your standards, my message isn't worthy?
James 1:19-27 - think it speaks for itself
James 3 - Would the Lord be pleased with such criticism as was found in your note?

And if you aren't, go rent Bambi and heed Thumper's mama's sage advice, please.

Context is absolutely critical here. Yes, I wear semi-casual clothes to/for work. It has been DREADFULLY HOT this month, so I do not think it is practical to wear clothes that will only cause more sweat and heartache than speaking in front of a critical audience does - not if I want my audience to focus on the message I deliver instead of the increasingly large human puddle before them. Nor do I think it economical to go buy a new wardrobe for this very temporary job. As such, I think that I have followed your commands to think in the appropriate manners. It's not as if I had worn a spaghetti strap tank and spandex skirt! I sure wish I knew whether you were part of the CSU Women's Association or if you just wrote upon seeing my article in the paper....because depending on those circumstances, I'd have a few [more] choice words for you.

Beyond the knee-jerk reaction I've had, I see the attempt at wisdom here, ma'am. I did consider jackets for my presentations, since I'm so lowly as to not have a suit - cotton/linen or otherwise, for the very reasons of things like your reaction. But, again, I have no maid, no butler, chef, or laundress, and in addition to working like a fiend, just didn't have time, and chose what I deemed to be presentation worthy togs out of my closet - with blouses that happened to bare my arms.

I realize you are likely from a generation far from mine, and respect your point of view and life experiences. I do not respect the discounting tone and condescension of your letter, though. I thought you to be someone old enough to know better.

All righty, I've had plenty of time to rant....


  1. Ok... it would take all that is within me to NOT mail her back... wow.. what a piece of work! And I bet you looked fine. I have seen you dress and no where in there have I ever thought TRAILER!

  2. I think I *would* write the old biddy back.
    You're tactful enough to pull it off.

  3. I'm all for writing her back. John had an experience like this not too long ago with a RELATIVE and he wrote back - composing a well thought-out, intelligent reply that put her in her place for having had the audacity to be so judgmental about something she happened not to agree with and something she felt his parents would be ashamed of, (not true).

    Anyway, it must've had some impact because she didn't bother responding.

    This woman sounds like a total loon and could perhaps use a few words of wisdom. Let her know her energies could be better spent on improving her own people skills.

  4. I didn't write her back (and if I had it wouldn't have been at all like the rant I posted here - a girl's gotta have some place to scream, right?!). I did look her number up and call her. Got voice mail so I left this message, "Hello this msg is for _____. This is ___ with the Larimer County Homeless Count, and I just received your letter in the mail this morning. I appreciate your concerns and do hope that if there are future areas of concern for you regarding the project that you will communicate them with me. I am always open to feedback, though I must say I do prefer it to be a bit more constructive than your letter was. I look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached at...."

    There's a fair amount of satisfaction one feels when one takes the highroad, and lets the other party know it....heeheee.

  5. HAMmy...I'm pretty sure you'd like to remain anonymous on your blog, no? You might want to edit your hate mail letter...you left in the hateful cow's salutation!

    Just an FYI (from someone who's used The Boy and The Girl's names accidentally on a zillion occasions and has had to go back and edit!)

  6. WooHoo!

    I knew you'd come up with just the right way to handle it.

    You go girl!