Criticism , that fine flower of personal expression in the garden of letters.–Joseph Conrad
My plumber left a phone message when Ada and I were away . ” This is your plumber . Good going ! I assume you’re the same guy who wrote the letter in this morning’s Times . Nice job . “
It’s always good to get a compliment now and again . Somehow it was especially heartwarming to have my plumber be the one offering a little praise . Some other friends had seen the letter , too , as it turned out , but they hadn’t bothered to comment on it until after I asked if they’d seen it . So it goes .
I haven’t noticed that the world changed because of my little letter .
Over the years I’ve had several letters to the editors published and , to be perfectly honest , I ain’t never felt the earth shake later because of any of those letters . I never seen any observable world-changing trend afterward neither . Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention .
One letter years ago directly pointed out the absurdity of some new school district policy imposed by the new superintendent . I won’t go into details , but the principal of the school where I worked called me into his office the next morning . ” Sid Thompson ( the superintendent ) called me up today , ” he said . ” He read your letter and I’m supposed to have a talk with you , ” he said .
I my opinion I was never intimidated by higher-ups . I guess that I was never enough of a striver to spend any effort being careful not to make waves , to tow the line , and all of that falderol , in some vain hope of climbing the next rung of the professional ladder . ( ” I coulda been somebody . I coulda been a contender .” ) I knew the principal pretty well , too , at the time , so I said , ” It’s good to know that Sid Thompson reads ” . The principal let that bit of snarkyness pass .
I waited for the required , ordered-from-above , chewing – out . ” Consider this our talk , ” he said instead , having literally done his duty , and sent me back to work .
I used to write a lot of letters-to-the-editor about school issues . This latest one , however , was more international in scope . I keep my letters succinct and to -the- point . I try to include a special word or two to show that I have put some education and sophistication into the effort . That word or two sets the letter apart from others , I always hope , and catches the editor’s eye . Maybe , anyhow .
Okay , maybe the President , his cabinet , the Congress , the Pentagon , the NSA , CIA , and all of those spy agencies , or just some dumb unforseen boo boo will get us into a war with North Korea anyway , despite my latest letter .
Can’t say I didn’t warn you , though .
My plumber understands , and he agrees .