12 February, 2012

My First Paid Writing Assignment

My father put me to work when I was twelve years old, authoring pissy letters to customers with long-outstanding debts to his home business. I suppose Pops just recognized and sought to reap some benefit from my innate talent for witheringly blunt criticism. So while the closest thing other kids my age had to a trade-teaching chore was lawn-mowing, I sat at a PC, learning how to write abrasive, tongue-in-cheek missives to debtors.

My letters often went something like this:
Dear Sir,

Our records indicate that you still have not remitted payment for your outstanding bill of $325, incurred for services rendered on November 6th, 1991. As previous notifications of your delinquence confirmed that you are at least capable of picking up a ringing telephone and carrying on a semi-coherent conversation, we have revised our original hunch that you lack sufficient intellectual capacity for blowing your own nose, let alone tending to financial affairs. It is our current belief that you are deliberately withholding payment, perhaps based on some notion of entitlement to a "free lunch." We can assure you that any such conceit on your part is wildly misplaced — you are not that special.
Then I'd threaten legal action. Only rarely did I need to turn to the software's thesaurus to find just the right scathing term. I would have done it for free, but my father insisted on paying me. When he did, it was always in a timely fashion. Maybe he was afraid of getting one of my snarky letters.

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