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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Case of the Mysterious Letter

Posted by on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 1:17 PM

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Can you be shouted at by a letter? The Slog vs. People Who Are So Mad They Call Us Up to Shout at Us Holiday Charity Challenge is all about people calling us on the phone shouting at us, but the single craziest angry reaction I ever provoked came at me by way of the mail. So old-fashioned! This was back in the summer of 2003. I had only been on staff at The Stranger for a month, I'd freelanced for about six months prior to that, and to this day I have no idea what the letter-writer was so mad about. All I know is, one day in the mail, a letter arrived. In tiny, bold-face type that covered an entire sheet of paper, it read:

FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU

More of interest to the authorities, there was also white powder in the envelope. Considering this was two years after the anthrax killings of 2001, authorities took that white powder very seriously. Within minutes, they'd shut down traffic on the whole block. Then FBI guys in space suits were walking through the office.

When they interviewed me, they asked if I'd written anything that might've angered someone, and I thought of about 20 different things it could've been. "I wrote a really negative movie review two weeks ago?" I remember saying. I was 22 years old and callow and wrote negative things all the time. The letter and powder constituted criminal threatening, they believed, whether the powder was or was not harmful. The fact that the sender used the US mail made the crime worse. They launched an investigation, and months later when we checked in with them they were still investigating, and truth be told I don't remember how that investigation ended. It didn't end up mattering. The white powder was tested in a lab the same day it arrived here and it was not harmful. Which was a relief. There are a lot of perfectly lovely people who work at The Stranger and pass through the mail room who have nothing to do with the jerks over in editorial writing their stupid opinions about stupid films... or whatever I'd done wrong.

As for actual shouters, there have been lots of over the years, but they usually end up in voicemail, and they're usually mentally ill, and there's no sense trotting out their sad stories for everyone else's entertainment.

Anyway! Slog's quest to raise money for the very, very great Northwest Harvest continues. As of this morning, Slog has raised $5,527 this holiday season from 124 donors. Be a giver! Just donate to Northwest Harvest right now—whatever amount you can afford! And of course, if anyone has ever shouted at you (by phone or by mail) you should give a little extra. And tell your story in the comments.

 

Comments (6) RSS

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emma's bee 1
How about in person shoutings-at? I have a pretty good story about being gay-bashed in Hawaii 20 years ago (as 1/2 of a heterosexual couple).
Posted by emma's bee on December 8, 2012 at 1:45 PM · Report this
2
Do tell.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on December 8, 2012 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 3
I find in general that most people who have to shout are either temporarily or permanently crazy. There is a reason why the word "mad" has a dual meaning in English.

Its all well and good to be upset about someone or something, and even more acceptable to challenge people with strong language or strident tones. Its another thing altogether to bray like a jackass at someone. This usually implies that every other means available has failed the offended party, and they are incapable of achieving their ends through civilized means.

With that impotence in mind, it is best to expose the powerlessness of the shouter by laughing at them as they scream. This makes it clear that attempts to bully you are going to fail, and that you could not care less how loud they get. Nothing is more humiliating than being laughed at when you try to intimidate them.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on December 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM · Report this
biju 4
What about that time about 1-2 years back when you guys got some threatening letter made out of cutouts and scotch tape - and the tape came complete with fingerprints. Whatever happened there?
Posted by biju on December 8, 2012 at 7:24 PM · Report this
emma's bee 5
@2: Okay. Mr. emma's bee and I were headed out to a nice restaurant on Kauai for dinner. As we were in the tropics, I had donned a simple, flower-print (and somewhat clingy & short) dress. It was a bit dark, granted, but still it was puzzling when, arm-and-arm on our way to the restaurant, we were shouted-at by a redneck in a pickup truck: "Fucking fags!", as a half-empty beer can whizzed by our heads. I'm 6' tall, which I guess led to their confusion. Now, off to make my donation...
Posted by emma's bee on December 9, 2012 at 6:20 AM · Report this
ScienceNerd 6
My father's wife is crazy. She's truly the evil stepmother from a story book. Anyway, my siblings and I have gotten so many screaming voicemails from her that I can't begin to single one out for a story. In face interactions were always more exciting, she pulled a gun on my sister recently.
Posted by ScienceNerd http://stanichium.tumblr.com/ on December 9, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this

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