Note Writers: Take Note

10515225_10203326443614719_4877380060974268842_oOur friend and neighbor Beth had an Amazon package stolen off her front porch the other day. To add insult to injury, she discovered the theft when a helpful neighbor left this note, along with the empty box, on her doorstep:

This cardboard was inappropriately discarded in the small Bus Stop container which is provided as a courtesy and maintained by a neighbor. It is intended for litter control and fitted with swinging cover to deter crows.

Since your address remained with the fully recyclable material, I am returning it to you for PROPER disposal in YOUR recycling Bin.

Thank you.

Needless to say, the note was unsigned (but they did say “Thank you”!). Beth, of course, was gobsmacked and wounded, posting to her Facebook account:

Amazon is replacing it at no charge but I’m actually more upset that this person thinks we would actually stuff our recyclable garbage in the bus stop bin. Seriously?! Who does that besides criminals? My reputation is besmirched.

The entire episode is a perfectly carved effigy of Seattle culture, the note a prim poem flawlessly rendering right here, right now. The Amazon delivery, the front porch theft, the volunteer maintained “litter control container” with swinging crow deterrent, the anonymous, passive aggressive note, written in impeccable block lettering on paper torn from a pocket spiral notebook, the indignant finger wag of the militant recycler. What’s missing?

To anyone assembling a time capsule and seeking artifacts that capture the essence of one slice, at least, of Wallingford, Seattle c. 2014 for future historians, I submit this note.

Really, though, we’re not all like that. There are those amongst us who would have given the benefit of the doubt to their neighbor, and simply plucked the cardboard from the bin and recycled it, right? Or maybe would have knocked on the door instead of leaving a note?

Please folks, think twice before dashing off an angry note for someone’s doorstep or their windshield. Maybe you don’t know all the facts. Say your piece, but say it nicely.

PS If the note writer wants to post an apology, anonymous or otherwise, I’ll give him/her a big virtual hug.

  1. Helen said,

    Jordan, your incisive and eloquent words never cease to impress. Not commenting so much on content, as the quality of the writing. Magnificent, man.

    Wed, July 30 at 11:33 am
  2. Rickvid said,

    That note is sooo Seattle. Rather than simply putting the box into her own bin and getting on with her day, the nanny had to put Beth into her place. Beth obviously is not submitting properly to her betters, and the nanny just had to tell her so. No wonder we have socialists running the place.

    Wed, July 30 at 11:46 am
  3. Miranda said,

    Not sure why the note writer needs to apologize. If it weren’t for her, Beth would not have known that her package was stolen. Is it that you feel that the note writer should have known this was stolen packaging?

    Wed, July 30 at 11:59 am
  4. GamerGirl said,

    I think the apology is more about the tone of the note. If they wanted to make it a teachable moment (I’m being charitable here), they could have gone with something a little less obnoxious.

    Wed, July 30 at 12:09 pm
  5. boulderdrop said,

    Yup. One day, a neighbor left two anonymous snarky letters, written on “Cards for Humanity” stock. They spoke about her feelings that these two different vehicles had parked improperly and for too long.

    Another neighbor told me who did it, so I put the card on my trunk, parked it in front of their house and asked for them to contact me via email, phone or in person; “so that we can work out the problem”.

    I left that note on my vehicle every night for three weeks. No response. I didn’t change me parking habits, but rather stepped them up to *always* park in front of their house. A few months later, she came to my door to gossip about a SWAT raid the previous night. She acted oblivious, I closed the door.

    (I hope she reads the forums)

    Wed, July 30 at 12:15 pm
  6. imleftcoast said,

    Miranda, you don’t know why the note writer needs to apologize? If this is how you treat your neighbor, you are the problem. Wow, here are a few reasons:
    – did not sign to give neighbor opportunity to explain,
    – did not give neighbor benefit of the doubt,
    – does not understand recycling will not save the world,
    – wastes energy she could spend protesting coal trains and actually saving the world, as she self-righteously indicates her neighbor should be doing,
    – dislikes crows (they are awesome),
    – misuse of underline, capital, punctuation, grammar and
    – general assholeishness.

    Wed, July 30 at 3:58 pm
  7. SL said,

    imleftcoast, protesting coal trains might make you feel good, but it won’t save the world either. It will throw a lot of blue-collar Americans out of work, but it certainly won’t stop the rest of the world from using more energy to improve their living standard. At best, the Chinese will burn dirtier coal from somewhere else; at worst, they’ll build more nukes.
    I agree with you that crows are awesome.

    Wed, July 30 at 9:49 pm
  8. borealis said,

    Miranda, are you missing a page from your spiral notebook?

    Thu, July 31 at 7:45 am
  9. Miranda said,

    Borealis: “like” :)
    imleftcoast: mmm, your response is a bit shitty, not sure why you are attacking me. I do think that your point about signing your name so that a person can defend themselves, as well as thank the person for inadvertently letting them know a package was stolen, is a good one.

    Thu, July 31 at 11:27 am
  10. runyararo said,

    @Rickvid: interesting that you assumed the note-writer is a “she” …

    Thu, July 31 at 1:23 pm
  11. pluvius said,

    This reminds me slightly of a local situation. I live in a beautiful glen in Scotland and not long ago a farmer who has a large amount of livestock was fed up with people picnicking on his land and leaving their rubbish behind for the animals to go eat and get sick. (In Scotland there is a right to roam so you can walk anywhere whether it is owned by you or not) He also had signs saying please take your rubbish home with you. Last year he took down the car registration of an offending litterbug and collected all their rubbish. He found out from a friendly policeman the address of the car owner and drove to their home in the suburbs of Glasgow and went onto their front lawn and emptied the rubbish all over it. Where upon an enraged woman came out ffing and blinding at him followed by her husband asking him what the f he was doing. He replied that they had left it on his farm in Glen Lyon the previous day and he was just returning it. There was a silence and they slunk back into the house

    Thu, July 31 at 1:52 pm
  12. imleftcoast said,

    That’s fair Miranda. I was blown away that you wouldn’t understand what was wrong with that note, but half of Seattle wouldn’t. People need to be upfront and honest, and not send anonymous notes or go online to trash people and businesses. Plus, there are much more important things to worry about – coal trains are uncovered and spread dust to poison our kids, and provide dirty energy to poison the planet. Fuck anyone who defends them on the basis of jobs.

    Thu, July 31 at 3:47 pm
  13. Rickvid said,

    @runy, a guess on my part because of the nature of the handwriting. Plus, I hate the whole he/she, him/her p.c. hoop jumping thing. PC is just a pustulant canker on the nether regions of society.

    Thu, July 31 at 6:06 pm
  14. DrDeb said,

    But wait a second. If what we want is for the letter-writing neighbor to give the package-stolen-from neighbor the benefit of the doubt, why are we harshing on the letter-writing neighbor? Maybe s/he had a bad day. Maybe s/he’s been dealing with excessive garbage or frequent recyclables in the bus-stop-bin and just had a moment where s/he was totally fried and reacted more quickly than I bet s/he now wishes. Personally I can imagine that moment of frustration, and I can also imagine the chagrin of the person inappropriately called out. Maybe we don’t always react in the moment with the grace and kindness we would wish.

    Thu, July 31 at 8:48 pm
  15. donn said,

    Forget about grace and kindness, that’s more appropriate where the facts of the situation are better known. What this fiasco illustrates is how easily you can avoid this kind of error, if you start from the assumption that your neighbors are as thoughtful and conscientious as you.

    Thu, July 31 at 9:16 pm
  16. DrDeb said,

    “Forget about grace and kindness” does not compute, as an intention. Most of us do often forget about those (myself very included) in the heat of a moment. It’s all too human. But when we have an opportunity to reflect and slow down, in my mind it’s clear that both of the neighbors deserve the same benefit of the doubt. Often in our humanness, that’s only available after the fact. But now it’s after the fact, and clearly both of them need kindness. I know that when I’ve made a mistake, sure it’s my job to apologize, but I sure appreciate a little compassion and forgiveness offered in my direction.

    Fri, August 1 at 10:00 am
  17. iowagirl said,

    It is not Wallingford. It is not Seattle. It is people, all types, who, in all probability ,
    grew up in many different places, with varied life experiences. Who either were, or were not like that when kids, who are/are not they way they are as adults.

    Maybe this is a good time to have closure. I am so sorry, Beth,that you had to experience all of this….

    Fri, August 1 at 1:38 pm
  18. imleftcoast said,

    In case anyone is interested, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say Fuck is a great book on how to confront people in a way that might result in something productive coming out of it.

    Tue, August 5 at 11:13 am
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