A Scarecrow in the Backseat

          This is my last week as a seven-days-a-week carrier for the Oregonian.  Three days ago, I had a unique opportunity to pick the brain of the 43 year old guy who I was training to replace me, as I drove the 20-mile route.

"Hello.  I'm Veach.  I understand you're taking over this route?" (As I shake the guys hand).
"Hi. Yup.  That's what they told me.  How long have you been doing this?"
"Well... (pause; I tell myself to say 'I didn't catch your name' but instead I say) two years.  Total.  Almost five months on this route."
"Can I ask you wh...  You're quittin right?"
"Yea."
"Can I ask why?"
"It's personal.  I..."
"...That's OK..."
"...don't like to talk about it because..."
"...none o' my business..."
"...it's kinda embarrassing."  (Which is what I tell everyone.  There's no reason to explain my need to maintain sanity by camping, hiking and lazing on the beach.)
"So let me ask ya.  I'm just doing this because I need the money.  How much can I expect to make?  If you don't mind my asking, how much did ya make last month?"
"Nobody does this job for any other reason.  There's nobody delivering papers because it is a great work environment, or because the pay is great, or because of the fantastic benefits.  We all are doing it for the money.  Last month I made about $1,550."
"Yea?  Great.  That's perfect for how many hours of work?"
"It varies.  Maybe 30 a week.  More at the beginning until you learn how to speed up."  
          (Fast forward.  Skipping the short cuts and how-to details of memorizing and paperwork.)
"So I recommend we load all these in your car; I'll ride in the back, navigate for you, and stuff the papers into bags, while you drive and deliver."
"Umm, would it be OK if we use your car?  I, umm, don't have much gas.  I'm pretty sure I can borrow some money for gas now that I've got a job and all."
"I guess that'll be OK, but it isn't the best way to learn a route...from the back seat that is."
          (I should not have acquiesced.  Skipping more boring stuff.)
"Veach, can I tell you something and you not tell anyone?"
"If you're a serial killer, I may feel compelled to inform someone."
"Ha!  No.  It's just.  See.  The real reason I didn't want to use my car is, umm, I don't have any insurance on it and all.  I plan on getting some as soon as I get my first check.  And I know they don't hire anybody without insurance so I fibbed and said I had it.  Do you ever get pulled over by the cops?"
"Yes.  I've been pulled over six times while delivering.  Which is about average for someone driving with his high-beams constantly on, not wearing a seat-belt, thru stop signs, on the wrong side of the road, after the bars close.  But I never get a ticket.  They're just looking for drunk drivers.  If you got pulled over with no insurance, you could get a ticket.  Why take a job that requires driving every night if you don't have car insurance?
"I used to work construction.  A few months ago I had a triple bypass.  When I got out of the hospital my apartment was all padlocked and so I live in my brother's basement now his girlfriend is constantly up my ass and bitchin about me so I figured I could do this with their car an all.  It's got plates on it and I got a license.  It's just the insurance lapsed."
"A triple bypass?  Someone your age?  That's—I've got to say—a surprise.  How long ago was this?"
"It's been nine weeks now."
"Nine.  Weeks.  Are you sure you can do this job?  It.  I walk three-four miles a day.  On Tuesdays it is more like ten or twelve with the Food Day."
"Oh yea, they've got me running on a treadmill three times a week.  The exercise is not a problem."
"But.  You're young."
"Well it's because of all the drugs I did in the past and the cigarette smoking and it's also genetic.  My brother is five years younger than me and he just got three stints put in!"
"Hunh."
          (At this point he must be able to tell from my silence that I was recalling his cigarette before he got in my car.
                    I was also thinking about death panels—which he wouldn't have sussed.)"
"And I know.  I need to stop smoking..."
"I think open heart surgery might have had an impact on you, yea."
"blah-de-blah yabba-go-dabba..."
          (The only part of the next five minutes of rationalizations and explanations I need to include is the part
                    where he spoke of himself in third person)
"...and Tom is pretty good when it comes to math.  Remind me again, how much will I make?"
"Depending on tips and how many extra papers you deliver you could average fourteen to fifteen hundred a week."
"How about when they change to...what's it going to be in October...three, four days a week?"
"It will be less, obviously.  Two days off a week is—at a minimum—two thousand five hundred papers less a month, at ten cents a paper, how much less would that be? (Yea, I almost said 'how much will that be Tom.')
"And then you have to deduct for gas.  How many hours a night?
"Fast nights, three.  Busy nights, up to four or so."
"Sundays?"
"Sundays pay almost double, seventeen cents a paper, and you get more time to deliver, if the paper is huge it can take all of six hours.
"So, I know I keep asking about money...sorry...but that's about ten dollars an hour?"
"I don't think about it as an hourly job.  It's a paid-to-complete-a-task job."
"Hunh?"
"I get an extra hundred dollars a week, four-hundred a month, to deliver Food Days on Monday nights and Tuesday mornings.  Yes it's a lot of walking, but that means less money on gas.  I listen to my music and toss papers.  It's simple.  No stress.  Like getting paid to exercise.  They are not paying me on the hours it takes to deliver them, they are paying me to put twelve hundred Food Days on twelve hundred porches."
"And you have to put them on every porch?"
"Nah.  You don't give them to anyone who gets a paper at night, and th...
"...How come?"
"Because they get it inserted in their Tuesday paper.  And there are a large amount of people who specifically ask not to get a Food Day.  There are entire blocks where neighborhood associations ask none be delivered, and there are a bunch of apartment complexes who don't want them too."
"How do you know who gets them and who doesn't?"
"You'll get a list.  It shows who gets them."
"Like this list?  The one you updated before we left?"
"Nah, that is one I typed up myself.  It has everything on it and it has all the driveway counts and.."
"Driveway counts.  What's that?"
"See the numbers to the left?  Before the house numbers?"
"Ahh can't read em.  I'm gonna need to bring my glasses tomorrow.  Anyway you could give me this list when you leave?"
"You see how I've made pencil changes and then erased and then made more?"
"Umm."
"Well, see how dogeared they are?  And how some of the pages have already pulled out of the binder?"
"Yup."
"That's only six weeks of wear.  I could download the entire thing I guess.  You got a jump drive?"
"I don't have a computer."
"Yea, well, I don't know if the pages would do you much good with no way to update them."
"Sorry for continually asking the same question over and over, but what do you think I can make a month after the October changes?"

          Tom asked two more times about money.  He never asked about driveway numbers or the codes I use for the different types of customers.  At the end of the night he asked me if I would be able to 'bum him a few bucks for gas'.  I politely declined.

          The next night he was given one hundred papers to deliver solo.  The office received 30 complaints of missed papers the next day.  He was unreachable.  They fired him when he arrived the next night.  An additional 8 customers complained the following day, and when I was delivering that night a lady told me she also didn't get a paper but didn't complain because she thought the Oregonian had already switched to three-days-a-week.   Three days later there were still customers reporting he didn't deliver their paper.

          To understand the title of this post read:  So You Want to Deliver Newspapers.  Even though he got a new heart, Tom was a scarecrow (of the tweaker variety) not a tin man.  He weighed about 120 pounds, bad teeth, bad skin, bad eyesight (I understand meth wreaks havoc on the organs).

          On a related note, under a socialized medicine system, all the Tom's would never become candidates for triple bypasses.  They've been failing to commit slow-suicide; I say, let them succeed.  Death panels?  Sure!  I'm all for them. 

1 & 3 4 - masanobu hiraoka


New Adventures of Wading in the Amazon



     I order a set of expensive, thick, sheets.

     A set of cheap, thin, sheets is delivered.
   
    
Return reason: Different from website description
Buyer comments: Very unhappy with product. Already have high thread count sheets and (unlike this set) they are dense, luxurious, and soft. This set is flimsy and coarse. Not as advertised.



** I receive a form letter with options.  Return the item, preferably unwashed, to an address in Virginia for a full refund or get a 30% refund if I choose to keep the product (and a request to inform him which option I choose).

** I return and pay return postage.  I don't send a follow-up email.

** After tracking number shows package received for 10 days: 


Amazon Customer Complaint:

          I communicated with the seller about my displeasure with the sheets and returned the sheets in the condition directed  (unwashed).  Package tracking shows the seller has been in possession of the returned package for over a week.  No refund.  No communication. 

          My displeasure with this company is rapidly increasing.  In the past, I have had to return a few items, that I purchased through Amazon, from other sellers.  The sign of a good internet company is how they handle returns and dissatisfied customers.  The very best sellers don't try to scam customers by foisting poor quality items on them in the first place (but that ship has sailed).  The next lower level of seller provides a free shipping label to print out at home and then immediately processes the refund upon receipt of said returned item (it seems that ship has left the port as well).

Very disgruntled,

Veach Glines

Dear Veach,

I am sorry for the inconvenience. I was not aware the package was send back.  In the email i requested you to please make sure to email me once the package was send back so that i could give 100% refund on those.  i never received an email once send back.  I have issued 100% refund on those today including shipping paid at the time of purchase.  If you prefer i will also refund you the return shipping you paid.  Please let me know the return shipping you paid and i will gladly do that.

Please advise,
Syed

Sayed,

I am confused as to why you would not be aware the package was received by your business.  I included in the package my name, address, and the order number.   I paid $16.14 shipping UPS.

Veach



Dear Veach,

Sorry for confusion. The package goes to the supplier where he gets returns from various drop shippers so that is why i request all my buyers to send me an email once package is send back so that i can promptly do the refund the same day the return was send.  I have also issued refund of $16.14.  Please let me know if you want me to do anything else.  I apologize for all the inconvenience caused to you.

Regards
Syed




Dear Veach Glines,

You left me a 2 star negative feedback today as you were disappointed in the quality and return of the set and the way the return was handled. I am a small seller online and work hard to receive 4 and up rating from my customers. I am sorry to have received a low rating.

I would like to request you to work with me on this.  Please allow me to explain here so you know what happens.

- REGARDING SHIPPING WEIGHT:   Please note that the shipping weight of 35 lb listed is a type error that has to be corrected. It is impossible to have a 35lb sheet set exist anywhere.  I am going to contact amazon to correct his mistake.  The maximum weight a sheet set can have in 8-10lbs.  If you want, you can even walk into any retail store and check the weight of their highest luxury set that may cost $300 and up. The weight will be less than 10 lb.  Please understand that even a heavy weight 8 piece comforter bed in a bag will not 35 lb. 

- REGARDING RETURN NOT HANDLED PROPERLY : Please understand that I work with vendors for processing order.  So, when an order has to be returned, the vendor gets the the return directly. They usually do not notify us because they expect the customer to work with us for return authorization. That is why if you see in the first email to you, I had requested you to kindly provide me with a tracking number once you return or at the minimum inform me when you return, but you never responded.  This was only because I wanted to follow through your return and do a prompt refund. However, because I never knew that you returned, I was not able to do a prompt refund. But if you notice, I issued you a full 100% refund including the shipping fee as soon as you informed that you had returned and  waiting for refund.  I did not even ask you for the tracking number because I wanted to take the responsibility to trace the package with the vendor for my refund. Since the vendors process orders and handle returns for several sellers like us, they expect us to know when an item is returned by an individual buyer.

-REGARDING QUALITY OF SET:  I am sorry if the set was not satisfactory.  I am just a middle man here and work with vendors. This arrangement is mostly to get competitive prices so that I can pass the savings to my customers.  Please understand that I do not have any intentions to send inferior quality set because at the end as a seller, I am the one who will get burnt with returns and bad feedback. I do not gain anything, it is a complete loss for me & my feedback.  However, since I have this arrangement to work with vendors, I do not always have control on what get shipped. There may be an odd set that is not up to the expectations and when this happens, I do everything to work with my customers.

Since the quality was not satisfactory, 

(1) I would like to ship you a replacement set through another vendor.  This time, I will ensure that I also do a personal quality check so you will not be disappointed. I will also ship from a vendor that has very high quality set that costs a lot even in the wholesale market. I will ensure that the replacement is 2 ply thick set and will guarantee you that you will like the thickness and quality of the set.

(2) AND,  I will not charge you again for this set.  Hope this can compensate for the loss of time due to the first set.

Please let me know if this is acceptable.

I do have one humble request for you.  At the end once you feel you are 100% satisfied and if you feel that I have attempted to work with you to your satisfaction,  I will kindly request you to please consider to remove the 2 star negative feedback solely on the basis of my customer service and efforts to fix the problem.  Please understand that seller feedback is not just for the product but for the most part for the overall service of the seller and I hope that I can do everything possible at my end to fix the problem we have on hand.  Since I cannot undo what already happened,  I hope that you can please give me a chance here to work with you to your satisfaction.  Since selling online is bread and butter for me and my family,  I will work hard to ensure I provide you with 100% satisfaction.

I look forward to hear from you.

Syed

Syed,

          I do not believe you are unaware of the inferior quality of some of your "vendor's" products.  Obviously, not all of your products are poor quality, because many of your good reviews describe heavy, quality, sheets, but I strongly suspect that sending thin, sheer, low quality sheets is an intentional action in order to profit from people who don't know what a thick quality sheet set should look/feel like (or who don't want to hassle with returns).  The only downside is convincing the dissatisfied customers (like me) who are familiar with thick 2ply high-thread count sheets to not post accurate reviews on Amazon.

          You say you intend to work with Amazon on changing the "typo" of 35 pounds.  But you aren't specific as to what the actual weight of a quality king size sheet set is?  You write that it is 8-10 pounds. 

          Partly, my decision to purchase from you was because the weight was very heavy and some of your reviews said they were heavy.  I would think you would know exactly what every size actually weighs because shipping charges vary based on weight.

          If you are a legitimate businessman and aren't intentionally selling low quality sheets for high prices, then you will not have any problem changing all of the "typos" on all of your pages.  There are other pages on your storefront where the weights for King 1500TC sets are:  10, 12, 16, 17, and 28 pounds (I did not look at them all).  You say they all should be 8-10 pounds?  Are you saying all of these are typos? 

          I don't want other people to have to go through what I have gone through, and having accurate weight information would be a good first step.  Obviously, it is enticing to be offered a free set of sheets for removing my accurate review, but I am more concerned with other customers at this time. 

          Write to me when all these "typos" are corrected and then I will decide about removing my poor rating.

Veach  

Dear Mr Glines,
 
Thank you for the note.   Please allow me to explain further regarding how the edits happen to the listing page.
 
The listing page that you see on Amazon, is not owned or maintained by one individual seller, including myself.   That is the reason why you see more than one seller offering items for sale from one single listing.  That is the reason why individual seller do not have full control of the content of the listing page because the detail page is shared by more than one seller for selling the item.  In our listing for example, there are two sellers and previously at some point there may have been several sellers.   As a seller, I can only change item description at my end of the listing edit page and wait for it to get selected to get changed on the main listing page.  So it is not likely that all of the content that you see on the listing page including the weight was updated by one individual seller.  It is collection of contributions from different sellers at some point in time and that is why on other similar listings you may see different contents based on what one individual seller may have submitted and was selected. 
 
Please see attached my listing edit page where I have entered the weight of this specific item.  Just to be conservative,  I entered a lower of the two weights as weight depends also on the type of packaging used by individual vendor.  However, the weight  is not yet updated on Amazon.   I will give it few days and check again and if it does not change,  I will contact them to see if they can make the change manually for this item.
 
Please understand that feedback is completely your decision and I am not in any way forcing you to change the feedback.  I am only requesting you to consider to revise the feedback only at the end if you feel that as a seller I attempted to work with you to resolve the problem and only if you are satisfied. Since feedback is not just for the product but also for the seller experience I was requesting your help and was hoping I can make it up to you though my customer service.   I only wanted to send you the replacement set to ensure you receive a set that will be 100% satisfactory for you.  It has nothing to do with feedback.  I will respect whatever you decide.
 
Syed

Syed,         

          To recap:
  • I order 1500TC heavy sheets and pay you over $100.00 for them.
  • Your wholesaler sends me low quality thin sheets without your knowledge.
  • I return them to an address you provided but you don't know because I, nor your vendor, told you.
  • I complain to Amazon.
  • You refund all my money as well as all my shipping.
  • I post a 2-star review explaining that you advertise heavy sheets and ship light ones.
  • You claim the misleading weights are typos and offer a free set of personally inspected heavy sheets so I'll see you have provided the very best customer service.
  • I request you alter the weights listed on your pages which lead people to believe you are offering very heavy sheets.
  • You claim to request the typos be fixed, but state that because they are not solely edited by you, the final outcome is beyond your control.
          Nothing is ever your fault.  You are just a middle man.  You work with vendors, and suppliers, and wholesalers, and Amazon.

          Because of this "not my fault" constant, I decided to take a close look at your pages.  I understand Amazon's constraints and enticements on you.  "Enticement" is the word; clearly, you don't force dissatisfied customers to alter their reviews.

          Here are some of your recent 4 or 5 star reviews.  Notice anything?
  • Seller was very reasonable for returns.  Jamie S.
          This is an inordinate amount of customers with problems.

          The following are also your reviews.  However, these customers—with similar complaints as mine—chose to keep their sheets (either because they didn't know better or because they just don't return things) and post 4 or 5 star reviews:
  • These are the best sheets I have had in long time! Will be ordering more. I assume the wrinkles will disperse after the 2nd or 3rd washing! I am happy! Thank you!  Leslie [Leslie is clearly an idiot because heavy 2-ply quality sheets do not stay wrinkled.]
          And here are a few who chose not to be "enticed":
  • they knowingly sent the wrong item and were difficult to get refund from.   Lauren A. Hampton
  • I have returned the item and still have not received a credit back. I would like Amazon Customer Service to step in and help here. Please advise.  Sabrina  [Obviously, she also didn't send an email]
  • The product was not as advertised. I would not advise buying this product. I do not know if the seller's other products are worth buying.  Edward M.
  • The sheets were not what was described but the seller was more than willing to refund me 20% discount.  I settled for 60% refund.  They'll negotiate with you so they don't get negative feedback.  I wouldn't shop here again.  ImKim
  • Product was not the quality nor the thread count the seller advertised.   They refunded the money promptly but it was a waste of time and I had to pay for shipping the return.   Avoid this seller, they are dishonest about their product and they know it.  NewYorkRoger
  • Poor Quality not what seller described.  Creasyb    
          Sayed, you are obviously playing in the margins of the business rules set down by Amazon.  It appears, however, that you are gaming the system in order to profit from customers who either don't know what they should receive or realize you sent an inferior product but don't want to hassle with a return.

          I have decided to not accept your free set of sheets.  I will find a trustworthy business somewhere else.  It would feel like graft, and I suspect they would not be thick quality sheets and then I would be in the position of doing what?  Feeling guilty for returning the free set?

          I am going to refer all of this to Amazon's fraud department.  I believe there are hundreds (if not thousands) of Amazon's customers who have been scammed by receiving low-quality, thin, one-ply, sheets from you (or one or more of the wholesalers you use) who paid for high-quality, thick, two-ply, sheets and didn't complain.  I hope Amazon has the ability to go back and review those orders.

Veach Glines

Hello,
Thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Asking you to change the seller rating or feedback you submitted is a violation of our Community Rules posted here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=1161272 
Violations of our Participation Agreement, of which these Community Rules are a part, can result in suspension of the seller's Amazon.com account.
I've filed a report to our Seller team on your behalf. Rest assured that each report they receive is investigated and appropriate action will be taken. If you'd like to send more details to this team, please use the form below and choose the "Report a violation of our rules" option:
            (report hotlink)  ... [filed report
I appreciate the time you took to write to us about this. Strong customer feedback like yours helps us improve our store and offer better service to our customers. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Best regards,
Shruthi N

Greetings from Amazon.com.
Thank you for submitting your report.  All reports are reviewed by our investigations team.  For privacy reasons, the results of our investigations cannot be disclosed, but please know that we will take any appropriate disciplinary actions. ... Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.
Best Regards,
Seller Performance Team
Amazon.com

Hello,
I'm truly sorry about the experience you had with the seller.
On priority, I've forwarded the details you sent us to our investigations team.   Each report they receive is investigated and the appropriate action is taken on the seller.  Further, I'd like to thank you for letting us know about the situation as I was able to escalate the problem and demand the seller for reasonable answers regarding this issue.
We always value this kind of feedback, as it helps us continue to improve our store and provide better service to our customers.   I am sorry that this experience has been a disappointment.   Rest assured, we’ll continue working hard to ensure that you receive accurate service, and to minimize the chances of anything like this occurring again.
Again, our sincerest apologies.  We hope you'll give us another chance to prove the quality of our service and look forward to your next visit.
Best regards,
Ranjith.Devireddy

nearing the end of 700+ no-days off

          During this time-frame most of you out there (friends, family, and acquaintances) have had 200-250 days off.         

          The Sager Creek campsite I enjoy overnighting at the most, cat-hiking from the best, and which recharges my batteries the fastest is located in the east-central portion of the Clatsop State Forest, down a overgrown ½-mile dirt track which spurrs off a three mile-long gravel logging road.

          Looking forward.  Peace.  Desolatitude.  Bliss.

         
          Heading out in October for a most-needed break.  Gave two-week notice today; last day will be 1 Sep—one month before the wicked witch shrinks from daily to 3-days a week (+ a couple of free-product deliveries).

          Haven't been trying very hard to locate another job; mental health is more important. 


Re-collecting memories • the first dozen


1959          0          Kennebunkport, Maine - no emotions - no movement - light coming through a window, reflecting off of white, peaked, ceiling walls - small flowers in the wallpaper on the short wall nearby - I've been told it is not possible to have memory of my second floor attic bedroom from this year.  I do.

1960          1          Quincy, Massachusetts - nothing

1961          2           Danvers, Massachusetts - a tin toy car garage/gas station with movable lift is presented to me by my dad while playing in the backyard - bright warm sunlight in my eyes - soft green grass under me.  Happy.
                               Danvers, Massachusetts - a spider the size of my hand crawls out from under the bed next to me - I place a shoebox lid over it - mom panics - it is no longer under the box lid when we return to my bedroom - my mother is angry - I am afraid - it could be anywhere.
1962         3          Peabody, Massachusetts - my favorite birthday present from Nana and Papa is a disassemblable wind-up plastic robot that "swings his arms" when he "walks" - I take it apart and put it back together more than I wind it up and watch it roll around and "squawk".  Interest.  Curiosity.
                             Peabody, Massachuestts - mighty mouse has gone to commercial - with my blanket tied around my neck I zoom around the living room one fist out, the other clasped to my chest - I run into Papa coming around the corner to the kitchen - my fist strikes him low - he spanks me - hard.  Surprise.  Sore.        
1963         4          Peabody, Massachusetts - Dr. December says big boys don't suck their fingers or keep a blanket - he says it's OK for a four year old but not five year olds - (with family reminders) I throw away my blanket and stop sucking my fingers the day before my birthday - Nana and Papa and Mom are all so happy - I am a big boy now.  Independent. 
                             Peabody, Massachusetts - I can't even get out of bed when they change the sheets draped around - the varnish on my headboard is soft because of the constant vaporizer - I'm very scared when they leave me alone in the huge everything-smells-funny hospital - even though it hurts my throat when I do, I cry a lot - every time a new person in white asks what kind of ice cream I want tomorrow after I wake up, I whisper 'vanilla'.  Sick.  Alone.
1964          5          Peabody, Massachusetts - First grade - Santa actually brought me what I asked him for when I sat on his lap at Marshall Fields: a Big Bruiser tow truck - shock and excitement crash into my chest and I cry my first happy tears.  Elation.
                              Peabody, Massachusetts - First grade - not much school attendance this year - a few weeks after getting scolded for over two weeks to stop scratching my chicken pox, I come down with Mumps - A month later, Croup keeps me bedridden in a "croup tent" - Back at school, I catch Whooping Cough.  Dismal.  Dreary.  Miserable.   
1965          6          Peabody, Massachusetts - Second grade - a boyfriend of Mom's takes us to a carnival - 'pick a girls's name,' he says - Linda (my first crush and the teacher's pet) - he rolls a ball and it stops on Linda - 'pick any prize,' so I pick a plastic doll in a wedding dress (against his and Mom's and the barker's attempts to dissuade) - later, my sister "wins" and "chooses a pop-gun" - days and weeks later, every adult I know tells me the doll is hers and the gun mine - eventually I stop restisting.  Confusion.
                             Peabody, Massachusetts - Second grade - Mrs Creane (whom we call Crayon) repeatedly strikes both sides of both my hands with a ruler after I slide Ronnie's chair back when he stood to read Fun with Dick and Jane - he sat, hard - his glasses bounced off his face - I stood in the hall for a while after "getting the ruler".  Shame.
1966          7          Peabody, Massachusetts - Third Grade - day camp is oppressively jammed with unnecessarily loud, squealing, pushing, and bullying bigger kids - they all travel in groups except me - I sit quietly and do the crafts suggested by the staff - afternoons we walk to the lake - I have to stay on the beach or wade - a lifeguard shows me, every day, how to float; how to kick; how to breathe under my armpit - by the end I can swim - I swim out and jump off the raft.  Pride.  Accomplishment. 
                             Peabody, Massachusetts - Third grade - my fort is next to the driveway where the snow is piled deepest - afternoon sun low behind me, I see Papa's car coming - gleefully, I make a snowball - as he parks, I spin and throw! - for some reason he rolled down his window - it hit him in the ear - upside down, I am crashed headfirst and buried in my fort - I struggle to get out - tears of 'didn't mean to' and 'window was up' fall on angry ears.  Misunderstood.  Unfairly punished.
1967          8          Fort Wayne, Indiana - Fourth grade - this house has more rooms than we have furniture - too hot to play outside - Mom and Step-dad's TV restrictions are loosened - I lie on the cool tiled basement floor - curtains drawn - watch Death Valley Days, Lost in Space, Star Trek, Batman, The Man From UNCLE, Mission Impossible, The Fugitive and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - the only thing with me in this huge room is the smokey smell of long gone fires in the empty flagstone fireplace.  Comfortable.  Entertained.
                             New Haven, Indiana - Fourth grade - talking is only permitted after raising one's hand and being recognized - getting up to use the restroom (located at the back) is only allowed with permission - my hand has been in the air forever - throat clearing doesn't work - I ask outright several times - no response - I can not hold it anymore - I get up without permission - the boys-room door is locked - I knock - someone's been in there longer than forever! - I pace - can't hold it - as I pee my pants, I race across and enter the girls restroom.  Extreme embarrassment.  Victim of unjust ridicule. 
1968          9          New Haven, Indiana - Fifth grade - my mother bends her "no two-wheel bicycle riding until ten years-old" rule - they gift me with a red, Huffy Cheater Slick bike with black and white banana seat and highrise handle bars.  Ecstatic.  Blessed.   
                              Nashport, Ohio - Fifth grade - playing in the woods with a boy who is visiting our neighbors for the summer - chasing - splashing in the creek - friendly jokes - playing with sticks - swinging on grape vines - climbing rocks and trees - out-of-nowhere he unfolds a pocket knife and brandishes it - "How'd ya like it if I stabbed you?  I could stab you to death." - running - being chased.  Fearful of unexpected crazy, of not escaping, of receiving pain.  Home brings relief.
1969        10           Nashport, Ohio - Sixth grade - at the end of a classmates birthday party, the popular kids are playing spin the bottle - I gradually realize my presence is unwanted and clumsily bow out (unkissed) - waiting for my ride, I discover Janice near the backdoor - she is uninterested in playing with the others - we talk - we giggle - I give her my candy bar.  Glowy.  Warm.  Infatuated.
                               Nashport, Ohio - Sixth grade - playing in the woods with a large group of boys from my neighborhood - someone lights a fire - many begin to smoke stalks of straw - home so early? without your friends? - naïvely, I confide the reason for my discomfort - disregarding all protests, Mom calls all their parents.  Untrustworthy.  Ostracized.  Sad.  A tipping point...I never confide again.  
1970        11          Nashport, Ohio - Seventh grade - my assigned seat on an overfull school bus is in front of a fourteen year old bully - he knuckles my head morning and afternoon - never hard enough to raise a welt - a complaint to the driver results in 'get back in your seat or be expelled from the bus' - for months I duck and shirk his sneak attacks.  Put upon.  Victimized.  Nowhere to turn.  Helpless.
                              Nashport, Ohio - Seventh grade - a cool windy afternoon - Bully whacks the back of my head as the entire neighborhood is disembarking from the bus - Keith (a smoking-straw boy who hasn't spoken to me in months) shouts 'leave him alone' - Bully threatens Keith - after the crowd thins, Keith jumps on Bully, sits on his chest, pins his arms, and pounds his face - blood spatters from Bully's eyes, nose, and lips - dozens of blows - I cheer the entire time.  Schadenfreude.  Glee.  Comeuppance.
1971        12          Peru, Indiana - Eighth grade - up until now all bedtimes were chiseled in stone - Friday nights I no longer have one - after everyone goes to bed, I get to stay up and watch Sammy Terry's Nightmare Theater.  Privileged.  Spooked.  Enthralled.  Grown up.
                              Peru, Indiana - Eighth grade - all motorized two-wheel vehicles are off-limits and forbidden - I ride a fellow-Boyscout's minibike, one afternoon, in a different county - two months later, my sister Nanett learns about it - after school one day she proudly "tells" and reacts gleefully as Mom grounds me.  Betrayed.  Unhappy.  Adamant that some form of statute of limitations must have lapsed.  Sullen.
                                                                                                                                     the second dozen →

Occasionally the inbox contains sufficient fodder (second edition)


Josh,

          My first instinct was to delete and forget about your query, which is what I do with 99.9% of such requests.

          In the past, I have accepted a small-few similar proposals.  For example: a disc golf merchandiser (which I play and discuss online); another was a web application designer looking for input from a person of my demographic (relatively active, employed, middle-aged male with basic working computer/HTML knowledge). 

          Since I rarely receive requests written like yours, I decided to reply.  At first glance, you appear to be offering a legitimate marketing arrangement, but I remain skeptical.  To assuage my doubts, maybe you could explain what caused you to choose my site?  I've yet to write about gambling (on-line or otherwise) and suspect you are merely "casting a wide less-than-perfect net". 

          I may be willing to append a banner to my sidebar (on the right of s n a p p e r h e a d) so it would be viewed without scrolling (on the "splash page" is the term).  Also, maybe, I could write an article about your client—with embedded hotlinks—if there were incentives to do so.

          But, I rarely permit outside authors to write on my site because most people have dishearteningly low standards when it comes to the use of proper grammar in their written communications.  I also am disinclined to cut and paste the words of another writer without the liberal application of my editor's pencil.

          For example, below is your query letter with underscores and highlights where I note that punctuation, capitalization, proper grammar and suggested elimination of clichéd or informal language is warranted.

          A legitimate initial query letter should appear to have been written by a professional who understands the importance of first impressions.  With no intended disrespect, this one does neither.

Hi_
I work for a Discover Media, and i am acting on behalf of a casino client of ours who would like to place an article on your site, or potentially place a banner on your site.

The article would be a one off short piece (300-400 words). We would look to have the piece stay on your site for 12 months period.

The article will not necessarily be about casinos but will contain a link to our clients online casino site. In order to ensure the article is relevant to your site and will be of interest to your audience we have a specialist team of writers who will write a new and unique piece tailored to your site and readers.

Alternatively if you feel more comfortable creating your own content, we would be more than happy to work with you creating a piece that works for both of us.

Ideally we need this to be live as soon as possible we can finalize a deal quickly.

If you had some other website you may also be able to do a deal on then I would happily take a look and see if we can do a group deal, or if you have any friends that may be interested as well?

If you are interested and would like to discuss this opportunity further then please get in touch.

I wish you good luck with your site and look forward to your reply_

Best regards_
Josh    
          I provide all of this (albeit unasked for) guidance, Josh, because my intuition tells me you are not an internet troll, or working for a spam marketing company, but just someone who, maybe, could use a little free assistance with his endeavor (which I realize is a rarity in today's lightning-speed world).

          You may use the following revamped query letter verbatim, with my blessings.  Or, throw it away, it matters not.

          Begin with filling in the blank with a full name.  You found their email address, use their name or, at a minimum, their web-name, or—last resort—use: Website Administrator for website name.  Always close with your full name above a title. 


Hello __,

Discover Media is currently representing an online casino interested in contracting with you, or the administrator of your website, for the purpose of advertising.  Specifically, we are looking for websites willing to enter into a minimum obligation of one year.  We would be excited to discuss one or more of these strategies with you:
  • Webpage article(s) containing embedded hotlinks to the client's site.
    • Short (300-400 words).
    • On a variety of subjects or themes (not restricted to casinos).
    • Authored by yourself (within specific guidelines).
    • Authored by our staff.
  • Banner advertising.
    • Home page, sidebar, "sticky" page, etc.
    • Click revenue, view revenue, etc.
If you are interested or desire more information please reply to this email or write to josh@discovermedia.co.uk with questions.  If you received this letter in error, please reply with not site administrator as the subject line and accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Respectfully,

Josh _________
Online Marketing Associate
Discover Media, London

          Josh, If you happen to be interested in adding to your "specialized team of writers," I might be amenable.  I have some time each day to use as I see fit, I enjoy writing (wrote professionally before retiring) and am always interested in a unique challenge.

Very Respectfully,
Veach Glines
Hi

You talk about a first impression yet you start this business venture by picking up on my dyslixia and slating the way i go about my job, before going on to give the most basic of english lessons about how to address a letter to someone,

We will pass on this oppertunity
Josh

          I didn't expect you to reply, Josh.  Actually, I'm slightly amazed that you did.

          As soon as I read your query I realized you didn't belong to a real marketing business and weren't representing a real company, which was why I composed my more-than-rude response. 

          I don't think your specific not-grammar / no spell-check reads Nigerian, so I'm going to guess Ukrainian?

          I wonder if Josh is your real name or if you chose it as a joke, because you're "Joshing with people"?  If that's the case, you would need to be familiar with the idiomatic usage of the term, which would then suggest that English isn't your second language.  Since it so clearly is, I'm stumped.

          I guess there's a slight chance you're a moronic teenage failure using a parent's computer to fuck with people, but I'm still leaning toward you being a scam artist, trying to con people out of money. 

          I suggest, "Josh", that you refrain from future attempts to foist the dyslexia flag (I correctly spelled it for you with an "e" in the place where you erroneously put that pesky little "i").  I once had a friend with the disorder and there was one word—besides his name—which he always spelled right.  

          Your scam is probably something like "...convince people they are entering into a business venture, provide them with a contract, which means listing their personal information, and slip in a need for their account numbers under financial information..."  Am I even close?

          Thank you "Josh" for affording me this second, wonderful, opportunity to p0wn [a first!  I 've never had opportunity to use this in a sentence before] an internet scammer such as yourself.  It has been equal parts uplifting and giggle-inducing.

          Oh and one last thing—just in case you are slightly curious about what all those squiggly red lines are doing under your words—when you right-click over one, a small list of words will appear.  It's like magic!  Just pick one.  Oh...sorry...imbeciles can't pick the correct one...pick the top one.  More than fifty percent of the time your word will be right.  The rest of the time, you'll have a totally different word, but it'll be spelled perfectly and will be certain to make your rambling run-on groups of words without punctuation a much more humorous read.

Again, thank you so very, very, much.  You've put a big smile on my face.

Veach