Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson Column: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Dear Sarah, the letter began.

I hope you mail a note from Slither to your daughter. What a sweet tender soul she is…

The letter-writer is right, my daughter is a lover of all creatures big and small. The writer picked up on this after reading my column about my love of receiving mail and my family’s dud of a road trip to Botanical Beach in March just after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had shut down the provincial parks.

My daughter and her dad saved a worm from a puddle that day and my kid wondered if she’d ever hear from the worm she’d named “Slither” again. I told her perhaps one day Slither would write her a thank-you note but it would probably be awhile. Snail mail is slow.

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Anyway, despite my best intentions, I hadn’t gotten around to sending her a letter from Slither. But this angel of a reader saved the day, dropping off a tiny greeting card and envelope and the outline of a letter from the worm for me at the office recently. I got right to it:

Dear [Redacted],

Thank you and your dad for helping me to safety.

I am fine and cozy in the ground and I promise

I won’t venture out again

into dangerous places.

Thank you.

I love you.

– Slither

I later sneaked it into the mailbox for my daughter to discover the next time we checked the mail together.

In her own letter, the writer said they’ve got a bit of a walk from their house to their mailbox and every so often they come across a worm on the road and pick them up to bring home to their garden.

“I don’t understand why a person will stomp on an ant — why!!? What for?” (S)he wrote. “I say this to people: ‘An ant has as much right to be here as you, and maybe more so!’ Sad to say humans are the real predators on this planet.”

The reader’s thoughtful, and delicately handwritten letter, hand-delivered to the office, was in stark contrast to an email message I’d received from another reader over the weekend in response to my column about my junk drawer.

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The reader’s email was as follows:

“Seriously? That picture is in some deserted trappers cabin right. The dirt so thick on the top of those drawer fronts you can see where your fingers have been — I couldn’t imagine having a meal there. Gross.”

I gotta tell ya, it wasn’t the kind of email I’d expected to wake up to — particularly because I take a lot of pride in having a clean house. Well, as clean as I can get it having a job and two kids and whatever else I get up to.

And anyway, I hadn’t even attached a photo to my junk drawer column!

It turns out another publication in my company had added a stock photograph to my column when they posted it online. It was indeed a disgusting cabinet and the emailer’s comments, although not necessary, were totally accurate.

I was annoyed and I did something I don’t usually do with notes like that.

I wrote back.

Before I’d had my coffee.

I told him I didn’t think it was kind to shame me for what he thought was the condition of my house. I told him if he didn’t have anything nice to say, perhaps he ought not say anything at all. I mean he WAS replying to a Bright Side column that tries to focus on the good things. Right?

To his credit, he replied the following day:

“You are absolutely right my friend, and I knew the answer, but does the publication know how that looks for you? They need to be informed by you. Sorry but sometimes we need to be critical to get things fixed.”

I’m still not sure how I feel about his email and follow up. He does have a point but I’m not too keen on the way he went about making it.

Determined not to let one annoying email wreck my day, I opted to take my daughter for a walk… to the mailbox.

You’ll never guess what was inside.

“A tiny note!” she said, carefully ripping the envelope open from the bottom. “We finally got it! It’s been a long time! Read it! Read it!”

I read the note, written just as the letter-writer had suggested. My child had the widest eyes and the biggest grin as she listened carefully. She then clutched the letter as if it was made of gold.

Then came the half-hour of non-stop chatter.

“Think we should write him one back? We could send it in the mail to him but it has to be small! Small enough so he can read it! I hope Slither can read. Do you think he can read? How does he hold a pen? We can make a little card when we get home….”

A little girls’ day was made all because an anonymous reader took the time to send a thoughtful note. It made my day, too. I’m not going to let that email take up any more of my headspace. Instead, I’ll just keep looking at the bright side.

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ColumnistComedy and Humour