Friday, September 19, 2008

hot letters

I heard in an interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin that Abraham Lincoln used to write what he called "hot letters" when he was particularly upset at someone. He would write a letter to the person, get his feelings out (very eloquently no doubt) and then put the letter in a drawer for a few days. By then he'd usually have time to cool down and think better of the situation. Many of these letters have survived with Lincoln's later notation on them: "Never sent. Never signed."

I'm adopting this idea. I already wrote one hot email this week, and although I'll admit I had intended to send it and only got distracted before I could polish it up and push the send button, it worked out for the best in the end that it's still sitting in my draft folder and I'll likely delete it soon. I wrote the email to the owner of a new store in town. Their name boasts they are a "farmer's market" but when their advertisement came in the mail and I looked through the pages, I could find not one single item from local growers. Instead, they import all their produce from Washington or Oregon or California, even the peaches and pears which are in season and falling off the trees in the orchards all around here. From my lofty perch up on the high horse I shall name Barbara, I found this to be offensive and misleading (not that I have anything against those states, mind you, but why use up all the fossil fuels to drive something hundreds of miles when we grow it in Utah?). In any case, you shouldn't call yourself a farmer's market if you don't support the local farmers. So I wrote a lengthy epistle to that effect. But I didn't have time to finish it.

Then I went for a walk with my friend Stacy who is actually thrilled to see this new store coming to town because she loves organic food and herbs and she thinks we need more of these kinds of markets around here and she convinced me that I really ought to actually step foot in the place before I condemn it for high crimes against humanity and the environment. Huh. Not a bad idea.

So I'm glad I had a chance to cool down and see another side of the issue. I plan to pay a visit to the farmer's market that is not a farmer's market. Maybe I'll like the place. Maybe I'll decide it's worth driving past six other grocery stores and two other health food stores to get to. Or maybe I'll eventually revise my letter and send it. But in the meantime, I'm feeling more reasonable and a little less incensed. I'm feeling more Abraham Lincoln and a little less John Wilkes Booth.


Jennifer B. said...

Great idea!

TARA said...

Of course I thought of you today when I ducked into my neighborhood "farmers market," which is actually a chain store. Thing is, I really do like their produce and their prices - even though I know it doesn't really come around here.

I also thought of you when I was excited when it was only 89 degrees when I got in my car just before noon. Yes, it's still pretty warm here....

The Lazy Organizer said...

Hot letters are a fabulous idea! I thought it was amusing when I read about Lincoln and his letters. The version I read was that he didn't always keep them to himself and used to leave them unsigned along the road for people to find. He even published one in the newspaper but the offended party found out it was Lincoln and challenged him to a duel.

The whole thing was diverted but it scared the pants off him so he stopped his abusive letter writing campaign and became the respected leader that he was.