Dear Nick ...

A letter from Sally Druthers
Holes, as it were, on the road to Fulfillmentville
(And what about that darn Post Office?)


December 12, 2011

Dear Nick —

I'm so excited! I've been following your advice and getting more involved in politics. And at first I just felt so fulfilled. I knew I was making a difference.

But lately things have been happening that I just don't understand. And I'm turning to you because you're so good at figuring things out and I know you'll be able to help me.

The group I joined up with first was advocating for better eating practices. We used to go out and protest around various McDonald's. We used street theater to get people to understand just how awful the food at McDonald's is. And we had people telling their stories about how they'd gotten cancer and consumption and stuff from eating there. One girl even said she got the grippe. I don't know just what that is, but I suspect that it was because she didn't dress warm enough during one of our protests. And we all took a pledge that we would not eat at McDonald's.

It really upset me, Nick, to see all those parents taking their children into those places to eat. I mean, didn't they love their children? Didn't they want to help them build strong bodies? Didn't they know that if kids kept eating there they would all go to early graves? What I didn't understand was how it was possible that so many old people were eating there. Why weren't they all dead from malnutrition? or food poisoning?

But I don't make a lot of money. You know me, Nick — money's not important to me. So when I started to buy all my groceries at Whole Foods and eat my lunches at the local salad place where they use only organically grown fresh vegetables I real quickly ran into financial problems. My whole grocery budget was gone by about the 21st of every month. I had to dip into my clothing budget, and now I'm wearing really ratty shoes and I hope I'm never in an accident because I'll just die of embarrassment if emergency caregivers ever see the scuzzy underwear I'm wearing. (I hope that's not TMI, Nick, but I want you to see that I was sincere and devoted to the Cause of Good Eating.)

Anyway, one day I noticed that there were lots of non-electric-powered cars in the employee-parking slots outside of the fancy salad shops and Whole Foods. Some of them were even SUVs. And that's when I realized that the people running those outlets were just as greedy as the McDonald's managers and it occurred to me that our group might be protesting the wrong people. They didn't really care about us the way we thought they did. I mean, the McDonald's people may not have cared about the poor, but at least they weren't taking all their money and making them wear ratty shoes and torn underwear. And if we were serious about helping poor people eat better food, we ought to be protesting the prices at the fancy salad shops and at Whole Foods. We should take our street theater to those places and show people not being able to afford to eat more than a few times a month because they shopped there or bought their lunches there.

I brought this up at one of my group's meetings, and you'd have thought I had suggested that we start investing in oil companies or something. All the people I thought were my friends started yelling at me. Honestly, Nick, the mean things they said to me made me think that they were Republicans or something. And they told me never to come back.

Well, I didn't. And I don't buy my food at those places, either. I have to buy processed food at the local Kroger's and I eat my lunch at the little pizza shop around the corner because at least I can get some vegetables there and the tomato sauce is nutritious. I'll probably die before my time from some kind of organ failure, but at least I won't be mortified when a stranger in the morgue takes off my slacks and sees ratty and stained panties.

But I'm not one to give up, Nick. I've joined up with an Occupy group. Ever since we got thrown out of the downtown park — well, we didn't really: we just made it look that way so people wouldn't know that we didn't want to stay out there now that's it's getting cold. Anyway, ever since then, we've been trying to find something else to raise the public's awareness about.

I thought we got just the break we needed when the Post Office announced that they're going to cut back services next spring and shut down lots of branches. I'm really indignant about that. My grandmother lives way out in the country where no delivery service that only wants to make a buck would ever bring her mail and now the Post Office is going to be just as bad. I mean, maybe she has to pay Federal Express extra to bring her her prescriptions (really! charging old people to get prescriptions! How low can you get?), but at least they get there on a Tuesday if she needs them. The Post Office used to say no one else would deliver first-class mail to those places and if they weren't going to deliver to those places, they couldn't deliver first-class mail at all. And now they're not going to deliver to those places half the week, either.

And it's not like my grandmother can just open up a PO box and pick up her mail there, because her local branch is one of the ones that are going to be closed and she'd have to drive an extra 20 miles to the closest one, and she's been trying to reduce her carbon footprint. And do you know how expensive PO boxes are? So people whose only source of entertainment because they don't live near a McDonald's and can't afford to go out is to watch movies from Netflix are going to have to upgrade their memberships and have lots of movies on hand at a time because if they keep their lower-priced memberships where they can only have one or two at a time they'll probably have to go a few days without any movies while they wait for the replacements to arrive and then there's nothing to do except watch reruns of "CSI" and "Law and Order" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Anyway, I suggested that we Occupy the Post Office. Those people are all going to be getting nice pensions while the rest of us sit around waiting for our Netflix and catalogues to arrive. The greedy people who run big-box stores and shopping malls are open every day and they're even staying open late for people who need to get their Christmas shopping done. Even the local Kroger's is open until midnight. (And so's the McDonald's Drive-Thru.) As greedy as they are, they're showing some Christmas spirit and are going out of their way to help people buy gifts and food and underwear and stuff. And the Post Office can't even be bothered to deliver mail on Tuesdays?

So I brought it up and I got shouted down again. It's like no one understands who's out there helping people and who isn't.

Can you explain to me why my groups got so mad at me? I just don't understand. I mean, I'm a good person, and I was just trying to find a way to help poor people eat the same wholesome and healthy food that I wanted to eat but couldn't afford and get their prescriptions and movies fast.

Please get back to me when you can. In the meantime, I'm going to send out some Christmas cards this year. It may be the last time we're going to be able to be sure they'll ever get delivered at all.



Strakon replies, somewhat awkwardly.

Dear Sally —

First, how special it is to hear from you at Yuletide!

Who can account for all the misplaced anger in today's world? Especially when it disparately impacts helping-individuals such as yourself? But I think the TLD Charitable Trust for Advocating for the At-Risk Unmentionably Disadvantaged might be able to help with at least one of your problems. Look for a dainty little package from FedEx. And then we don't need to mention this particular subject ever again, OK?

May you enjoy a blessed and most unscuzzy Christmas.  Ω

December 12, 2011

Published in 2011 by WTM Enterprises.

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