Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Power of the Pen

I learned long ago that written words carry power.  I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when Channel 48 in Philly took Shirley Temple Theater off the air.  That wasn't okay in my world and I told them so.  The reward?  They put it back on the air and thanked me (by name!) publicly for it.  Not a bad lesson to learn at a young age.

I'm an equal opportunity writer.  That means, I write when I'm pissy with something and I write when I'm happy with something.  I had great service a few years ago at a clothing store and wrote to the district manager to tell them of my experience.  Reading the very pleasant response, it was easy to tell they were quite surprised that someone had taken the time to write to them for a positive reason.  It was worth the 10 minutes of my time.

I inherited this tendency to put my feelings in writing honestly.  I remember my mother telling me a story of getting mad when she bought a package of hotdogs from the grocery only to find they were spoiled when she went to cook them.  She sent the whole package of hotdogs and a letter to the company and received a sincere apology and a coupon for fresh hotdogs.  Success.

I think the power of words is sometimes underestimated.  In the mid-90s, before the internet was what it is today (yes, I am aware that I just sounded like my grandma), I had AOL.  I would get pinged regularly from boys seeking a quick hook up and ignored them all.  Then there was that one different guy.  I knew he was different because of the words he wrote.  He wasn't a kid.  He wasn't a douchebag looking for a quick lay.  He was different.  It was his words that gave it away.  The story ended sadly but it all started because that guy could write.  It worked on me.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and again I fell head over ass for a guy because of his words. He was witty and charming and completely fascinating to me - before we ever met.  Words and the way one uses them are important.

I was reminded of that fact when I wrote a note - quick and hand written - to an interpreter who works for me on occasion.  She had done a particularly good job on an assignment so I got her a small token of my appreciation - a Starbucks gift card - and wrote her a note.  Her response was memorable to me.  She commented on the fact that I took the time to write to her.  She didn't mention my handwriting (which resembles that of my children when they were in second grade), for which I was grateful.  She mentioned that it's rare to receive a note that is personalized and hand written.  Since then, I've done it several times.  It seems like I'm not the only one who likes personalized messages in writing.

I have almost every card sent to me that has held meaning to me.  I love when someone takes the time to write their feelings or thoughts down.  Of course I love to hear I love you or whatever.  But reading it is very different.  I love that stuff.

I hope in 20 years or whenever I'm dead and buried, my kids enjoy reading my words.

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