The Angry Letter

I’ve often heard the age-old advice that if you’re about to write an angry letter, be as angry as you can, write it all out, and then crumple it up and throw it in the trash. I always thought this was a silly idea, and that the only way to resolve one’s anger is to communicate it to the offending party. But yesterday, I half-inadvertently ended up giving the time-honored technique a try.

I had awoken steeped in one of those slow-developing rages at an organization that had slighted me the day before, and I was determined to complain to the person in charge. Of course, being a devices-only kind of guy, I haven’t used a pen or crumpled a note in a couple of decades. (My home-office waste basket is typically full of discarded envelopes, used paper napkins and tissues, and empty yogurt containers.) So I typed out a detailed, angry letter, rife with hyperbole and venomous metaphors, and reviewed and perfected it over the course of an hour or two. Somehow, something in my better nature convinced me to wait a few hours and give it a sanity check before sending it off. So I clicked Save and went on with my day.

Last night before bed, I opened the file for another quick review. I smiled in embarrassment at the first sentence, and by the time I got to the second one, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so absurdly over the top, bursting with every possible angry-missal, poison-pen hissy-fit cliché ever invented. Each paragraph (and there were a bunch of them) was exponentially more ridiculously melodramatic than the one before. And I had written it all in earnest with the intention of actually sending it.

At a certain point, my wife asked me why I was laughing and I started to read the letter out loud. I was guffawing so hard, tears rolling down my cheeks, that I could barely finish. When I was done, I felt great. I closed the file and toddled happily off to bed.

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