Monday, March 18, 2013

Why I Probably Won’t Forward My Previous Post to the Crayola People

Once upon a time, I was eating breakfast when I found a hair in my Frankenberry cereal.  I figured it was mine or my mom's.  Not matter.  Hairs in food don’t freak me out like they do some people, so I pulled it out and kept eating.  Then I found another.  I looked closer at my cereal.  There were several hairs floating around in the milk.  I slowly stirred, and when I lifted out my spoon, hanging there was a large, milky gob of hair.  Drip, drip, drip went the milk from the lowest hanging strand.

Even I thought this was a little gross.  I showed my mom, and we quickly figured out that the hair had been in the cereal box.  My brother, sister, and I—the passionate consumer advocates that we were—clamored for my mom to “write a letter”.  (This was back when people still did that.)  She didn’t.  I didn't blame her then, and I don't now.  And it's not that we were truly aghast; more than anything, we were just curious as to how a letter would be received by the offending company.

This next story will suck, because I don’t remember very many details.  But sometime after Frankenberry-gate, but before I left home for college, some company’s product didn’t do what I felt like it was supposed to do.  I wrote a letter.  I used to write a lot of letters, and I believed that I could change the world by doing so.  I was excited to send off my letter, and enlisted my mom’s help with mailing it.  She suggested I let my dad read it.

He read it, and suggested that maybe the company’s crime wasn’t as egregious as I thought.  Maybe their promises weren’t so explicit, and maybe my demands weren’t so reasonable, and these are the kinds of things that happen in a capitalistic society, or something like that.  I don’t remember if I still mailed it.  If I did, I’m sure I didn’t hear back.

Since I’ve been an adult, I have expressed dismay to several different companies through letters, phone calls, or emails.  Every time, my purpose is not to change the world, but to get something I want.

I called International Delight to tell them that I missed their old “screw top” caps to their creamers, and I wanted them to bring them back.  The man told me that wasn’t going to happen, but that he would send me some coupons for free creamers—maybe to give me the chance to get used to the new tops.  I thought that was nice of him.

I sent a letter to Williams-Sonoma because I felt like an employee had been rude to me when I returned an apple peeler that my wife had bought there.  I never heard back from them.

I sent an email to Scrubbing Bubbles when our automatic shower cleaner sprayer stopped working after I changed the batteries.  This had happened once before, and we had already footed the bill for a replacement.  Not this time.  Someone replied, asking if I had followed the directions for changing the batteries.  I replied that I had.  He wrote back, apologized, and told me he’d send me a coupon for a new sprayer.  The coupon had a hologram on it.  When I used it at Target, the sprayer was on sale, but the coupon scanned for the full price.  The cashier and I both noticed this.  She shrugged her shoulders, and said, “I guess you get a little more savings of your other stuff.”  That was a happy feeling.

As a regular reader of WPFF would have noticed, I was not very satisfied with my family’s experience with Crayola’s Digital Light Designer.  One thoughtful poster suggested I send my post to the Crayola people.  Maybe I will.  But probably not.  Why not?

For one, I was able to return the product for a refund, minus shipping and a re-stocking fee.  I’m not thrilled about the net loss, but such are the perils of purchasing online.  The point is, you could make a case that I already got my money back—what else would I want the Crayola people to do?  Maybe they would send me free stuff.  But I’m not sure that I deserve free stuff.  I mean, it wasn’t that their product didn’t work—it just sucked.  To me, there’s a difference.

Also, I’m not sure it would behoove the Crayola people to send me free stuff.  I’m not especially loyal to Crayola as a brand.  I don’t know if them sending me free stuff would make me any more loyal.

Also, if I knew that my sending my blog post to the Crayola people would help them make better products, maybe I would send it.  As it is, I suspect my post—with its admittedly over-the-top tone—wouldn’t be used in any useful manner.  Would one blogger’s opinion outweigh the affirmation of winning the “Innovative Toy of the Year” award?  (Not an award I was familiar with, but a win is a win.)

Finally, I think about why I am blogging in the first place.  There are three reasons.  One is “me focused,” one is “you and me focused,” and one is “you focused” (anyone else thinking “Venn diagram”?).

Me:  I am blogging to make myself write.  I’m trying to use my gifts, learn to be disciplined about it, and become a better writer.  Maybe I will become a better person, too.

You and Me:  I am blogging to connect and communicate.  Whether updating friends or connecting with strangers, it’s fun for everyone when communication happens.

You:  I am blogging to help you.  I’m so sweet, I know.  I’m not picky about how I help you.  Minimally, I know that faithful readers of WPFF become more and more adept at deciphering long and convoluted sentences that make abundant use of commas, dashes, and parentheses.  Sometimes, I try to help by giving you something to smile about in the midst of a stressful day.  Or, maybe a post or two will challenge you to ponder important-but-invisible things that are easy to forget about, things like love and justice and hope.  Maybe the words I write will inspire you.  Maybe you will change the world.

The Crayola post was “for me,” so I could practice writing.  And it was “for you” so that you could learn from my experience and perhaps derive some amusement from it.  And it was “for us,” so we can communicate.  This is how I want to change the world.

Of course I could have spent this time figuring out how to get in touch with the Crayola people and writing them a preface to my post explaining that I am not just some crackpot, but I’d rather spend it connecting with you.

I may send the post to the Crayola people.  I don't know.  I wanted to make you a priority, but maybe after I post this, connecting with the Crayola people will feel like a bigger priority.  If I end up sending my post to them, for whatever reason, you’ll be the first to know.


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