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Someone sent me a thank you letter. 

A LETTER. In an envelope. A cute, tiny white envelope.

I’m outraged. 

The vapid, thoughtless, infinity-scroll addicted, path-of-least resistance-seeking, phone-mashing, wide-mouthed consumer inside me is OUTRAGED.

This aberration even has a little rectangular (a distinctly foreign rectangle, I must say) blue stamp with:


par avion

written on it in white lettering.

Then on the stamp’s lower right-hand corner it says “Royal Mail,” in a smaller, royal font. 

This is straight out of 1984. Like the actual year, not the book. I don’t read books. In 1984 I was in Europe and I remember the weirdness of their stamps. Weird, because they weren’t American. 

America! C’mon Europe, where’s the 7-11? Why are the portions so small? Why aren’t the grocery stores mammoth with runway-sized parking lots? Where’s the Sizzler? Why do people get mad when I don’t even attempt to speak their crazy moon-man language? Why does everyone look more fit and dress appropriate to the occasion instead of wearing jeans all the time? Why does it smell different? Why is the produce so fresh? Why can’t I buy a strawberry in January? Why is everything so OLD? Why do people bring flowers when they’re invited to dinner? Why do the men have awesome jewelry and the women efficiently navigate cobbled streets in high heels with a smooth, sophisticated grace? Why is the art so much better? Why do you take breaks in the middle of the day and hang out with your family on Sundays?  

At least there’s a McDonalds.  

Which reminds me, I went back to Europe in 1997, Italy to be exact. Here (town I stayed in) the McDonalds was called “Burghie” before eventually being switched to a McDonalds. 

The Internet and The E-mail were still in their infancy, so even though I utilized the local university’s computer bank to send emails once in awhile, I also wrote a lot of letters. 

Thus, I remember Air Mail stamps quite well. And the light blue envelopes with red and blue barber pole piping around the edges with which one would attach the stamp to. 

You had to lick it. The stamp. Back then they didn’t have non-lickable stamps. A.k.a. stickers. It was very complicated.   

Speaking of complicated, for some reason there were no American Post Offices with automated machines from which to purchase stamps. I recall walking into what was essentially an Italian version of a convenience store and deftly asking the too-attractive attendant for two tickets (biglietti) to the United States, please and thank you. 

I meant to say francobolli (stamps). I had ostensibly asked for two airline tickets to somewhere in the United States. She was nice about it. And dreamy. I blame their crazy moon-man language. 

After soothing myself by pacing/rubbing my head, I have to admit here’s something magical about receiving a letter that’s not from a collection agency or typed in Times New Roman. This one is hand-written, ostensibly a thank you, but really a curated documentation of both connection and how to literally slow time down. 

The author could have just sent an email (my go-to move, much to the chagrin of recipients I’m sure), but emails don’t have any depth. Well, I’d like to think mine do, if anyone reads them. But thanks to the advent of misguided email marketing campaigns email has gotten worse for the average citizen.

If you’re with a professional organization, particularly a marketing firm some kind, have you ever heard anyone use the phrase “email blast.” I literally shudder and cringe in revulsion at the notion, particularly when one considers the time and money involved (e.g. a client paid some company an absurd sum of their marketing dollars to generate an “email blast,” which at best sounds like a violent assault on an unwary citizenry about to sit down to a nice dinner).  

But I digress. I find the thank you letter refreshing, thoughtful, and a physical manifestation of a relationship with a person I respect and admire. I look at it, and things literally slow down.

I’m thankful for the thank you letter. I wonder what happens if we slow down and champion doing things with consideration and for connection, instead of urgency and tactical impact? My guess is what we do becomes more meaningful, and (ironically) allows us to create the change we’re seeking to make in the first place.

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