Thursday, June 11, 2009

Questions and Letters

Do you write letters?  Not letters to family and friends, I mean letters to make your voice heard?  I do, a lot of them.   Not that I'm an advocate, obnoxious, or a huge pest. I'm more of a polite, inquiring mind, who's rarely snarky and tries to keep my letters short and to the point.

Over the years I've written letters to my elected officials encouraging them to vote on meaningful legislation. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have heard from me often. Thanks to the Internet, they're just a click away.  And they always write back too-- With a nice form letter.

The Deli, that's also known as my "second kitchen" hears from me every year at the holidays.  The staff is great and the food is fabulous so I send the owner a different kind of letter-- A note of thanks naming those that have been especially kind over the year.  I know a copy of the letter goes into their file and hopefully is remembered come bonus time. Although I know the owner well, he's never acknowledged my letters.  But that's okay, it's showing my appreciate that counts.

For the past year, I've been writing letters to the Controller of the State of California. They owe me $600 in escheated funds.  I've been trying to get my hands on the cash for so stinking long that I think they owe me more in interest than the principle!  

You might have read that California is a hiccup away from bankruptcy.  I'm sure the state workers reading my letters were stressed out of their minds, so I tried to make it as easy as possible for them to pay me.  Each letter included copies of all our correspondence, my file number and the relevant information needed to process my payment.  Last month they wrote to tell me to leave them alone!

The Controller's letter said my $67,822 was already paid!  

For the record, I so did not receive a check from the State of California for nearly $68K.  I would have remember that and celebrated wildly.  

I admit, my response to this "payment" was a tiny bit snarky.  I wrote back asking what planet they lived on and if their accounting records had anything to do with California's current economic crisis.  I'm still waiting for my 600 bucks.

I've written so many letters to Oprah that I'm probably on her "stalker" list.  I always ask for a ticket to her big "favorite things" show where everyone in the audience goes home with a boat load of free merchandise.  Not that I need all that stuff-- although it would be nice.  No, I would like a ticket for all that loot so I can turn it into a fund-raising raffle for charity.  There are a number of organizations I work with that could use a financial boost.  But so far, no response from Oprah and her peeps.  

The last letter I wrote was to the Los Angeles Times about their story on Raymond Lee Oyler, the arsonist recently sentenced to the death for killing five firefighters in the 2006 Esperanza, CA fire.  You can read the article here.

No, my letter had nothing to do with the death penalty-- actually it was far from it.  My letter was about his photograph that appeared in the article.  That's Mr. Oyler below, in the orange prison jumpsuit, photographed the day he was sentenced.

I simply asked if California taxpayers were paying Mr. Oyler's orthodontist bills.

They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste and I think the same goes for questions too.  If you don't ask, you won't know the answers.

Are you an inquiring mind?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. I am a letter writer, but usually of love letters or goodbye letters...

    I've occasionally written letters to the editor of the local newspaper, and usually get them published 1 out of 4 times...

    Did you hear Arnold S's latest ? I don't get it. He won't accept emergency funding unless ?

    That indeed was a clueless letter they sent you - my guess is that the message was you aren't going to get your $600, unfortunately. They'll just out-stubborn you.

    And I hope you get on that Oprha show :)

  2. Good for you for taking a stance on what you believe in. But I don't think you're likely to see your $600. Frustrating and unfair isn't it. If you owed them, they'd be knocking at your door in no time.

    Keep up the good work for all of us!

  3. I don't write too many letters, although I should. I think it is great that you do and it inspires me to do so more often! :)

  4. I live in the Coachella Valley area where the Oyler case is widely publicized. The first thing that got me was this huge smile on his face. I guess it would make me and the victims' families feel better if he looked remorseful. I'm just saying...

    I also write letters but most of them don't always go off in the mail. Some stay in my head, as a way to vent.

    I hope you don't have to kiss your 600.00 goodbye!

  5. I'm lucky to get a post up every now and then. I prefer typing over writing although I love my writing and I used to keep a journal last year.

    Regarding your post, I'm a little sick to my stomach after reading that the state owes you $600.00 but they'll put braces on a killer?

    Oh Joanna, I'm so sorry for the injustice. Don't stop writing your letters. Your voice is very important. I have my fingers crossed that Oprah's peeps contact you for the next "Oprah's Favorites" show!!


  6. Good for you! If we don't speak up, no one will hear us.


  7. I write from time to time, often to manufacturers, typically via the internet.
    I used to write letters to the editor of our paper whenever some topic or community happening got under my skin, but haven't done so in years.
    And then there's the annual xmas letter I send out w/our family photo. But considering how postage keeps going up, I think that's also going to become a thing of the past.

  8. I am not a letter writer. At all. I should be more proactive.

  9. I write. And, I survey. And then I get ignored because that's really what we do anymore.

    I ask questions. A lot. But, I've finally come to understand that I only ask questions when I'm prepared to hear the answer. Because, more often than not these days, I so don't/won't like what I am told.

    Yours Truly,
    Snarky Sister, Holly

  10. I have some lovely stationery...just not using it unfortunately. I guess Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. are taking their toll. My mom has lupus for years before it was ever diagnosed. I remember so well the struggle she went through.

  11. I don't write letters on stationary any more. I do a letter in Word each Christmas which I stuff in a Christmas card but I do send emails to my state representatives in DC quite often, plus some others who are ticking me off. If they don't have an email address they won't hear from me. They are probably the lucky ones.

  12. Ohh, I get myself in so much trouble when I voice my opinion. My favorite critics are when I write letters to the editor. I used to "just die" when someone disliked something I said or an opinion I owned, now I LOVE IT! Being 50and mouthy has its rewards.

  13. Hi everyone, THANKS for your comments. I'm still hoping I get my 60 bucks back from the state but I'm guessing I still have a mountain of letters to write on that subject.

    --Annie: I'm with you on Gov. Arnold S. How much longer do we have to put up with him? Grrrrr.

    --Choc. Covered Daydreams" I hear you on the arsonist's cheesy grin in the courtroom. His daughter said it was "merely comic relief" as if that's appropriate when getting the death sentence! . Oy!

    --Green-Eyed Momster: CA hasn't heard the last of me on Orthodontist bills for prisoners ;-)

    --Snark Sis Holly: I'm hoping making my voice heard will help "people in high places" make the right decisions so some of their answers are easier to hear.

    Thanks again! Keep those cards and letters coming! xo

  14. I can't believe the state of California told you to leave them alone! If I was you, I would start writing to them each and every day. Who's running that place anyway? Oh yeah, Arnold. Well, that explains a lot.

  15. It's good to know people still make the effort to write letters. In this day of instant communication at the touch of a button it's nice to receive something that has actually taken someone time and effort.

  16. I LOVE that you do this. Everyone has a voice, and it is so good to know it has been heard - even if there is no response :P

    I'm guilty of rarely putting pen to paper these days. They say letter writing is a dying art, and whoever "they" are, I'd say that sadly, they are right.

  17. P.s. $60,000????? Man, I'd be doing significantly more than writing letters. I'd be camped outside!

  18. I write a letter sometimes. And I like to call - you may have seen on a post a few weeks ago that I got apple to fix my computer!!

    LOL that you wrote about the braces!! Did you ever hear back?

    Keep it up!!! You feel better after writing it!!

  19. I write all the time. Editorials, TV shows, officials etc. My name is well known in this area. I have picketed, and rode around with signs in my car. Keep up the good work. I would call a local news and ask if you didn't get the big money mentioned where did it go? that 600 sure did multiply.

  20. $68k, hm? Are you sure you didn't receive it and celebrate in such a way that you're left with no memory of it? You know what I'm talkin' about...

    I occasionally write letters about good and bad customer service. I found out from my grocery store manager that if you make a complaint via the company website it's a much bigger deal than if you just talk to the manager at the store. Useful leverage, eh? Anyway, my groceries have been neatly and carefully packed ever since.

    They still haven't sent me a check for $600, though.

  21. I am not a letter writer. I really should be, but I seem to prefer complaining to myself and my cats.

  22. Until email, I was a pretty big letter writer - mostly personal. Part of one of my jobs used to be to draft letters for a public official. There advantages and disadvantages to the digital age, I guess - as far as how history will be gathered... how can anything be verified as legit digitally anyway? You've got me thinking! I'm guilty of not writing as much as I should to politicians - I'll work on that :)

  23. Thank you for stopping by the blog and leaving a sweet comment! I would love to be in Oprah's favorite things show, too!!! I think about writing fact I started one to Oprah about one of her guests (the woman whose face was burnt by her ex--but she still had the most amazing attitude and outlook), but I am pretty terrible about finishing them and mailing them. Come by again soon!

  24. I'm not a letter writer, but admire those who are pro-active and can do it, all the better when they have some success.

  25. Just wrote a letter today to the Planning Commission for the city of Twentynine Palms, CA!!!

    Polite but firm...

  26. A long and good read, Joanna...and yes, I'm an enquiring mind.

    And I'm also waiting for a $68,000 check :)

  27. I can't remember the last time I wrote a 'real' letter, you know, with paper and a pen!!!
    I write letters in e-mail form all the time.
    I too would want to know who was paying for his braces! I hope it wasn't you tax payers!!!!

  28. 68 thousand dollars would be nice - heck so would 68 dollars!

    I love the fact that you are curious about the world! As I like to say, everyone is entitled to my opinion...

  29. Oh I used to be a great letter writer to family and friends but not so much anymore. Strangely I still collect beautiful writing paper in the hope I someday may get back into it again.

    I do write to places to make complaints (usually banks for some reason) and I also write when I think customer service has been good. I applaud you for doing that for the Deli staff. Service staff get no thanks usually.

    My mother is still writing letters to the paper. I would not be game on that score. She writes books though too. Mmmm I told you that I think you should work on a book...think it would be good..


  31. I write my grandmother,because she doesn't have a computer, but that's about it. Even emails tend to be short tidbits of information to relatives. "Honey, please stop and get milk on your way home" that sort of thing. I don't think I've ever written a congressman or a complaint to insurance. I guess I'm not sure it would accomplish anything. It might, but I'm not sure.

  32. So hilarious!
    I write too but not like you do. I write to companies if I'm dissatisfied with a product and Disneyland for allowing too many people in the park that it's impossible to ride more than a few rides.

    Recently, I wrote to Tiffany to ask that my shipping cost be refunded as the gift didn't arrive in 2 days. They complied.

  33. Hello fellow bloggie, a quick hi and to let you know I presented you with an award, so visit tinkalicious to claim it, (or not)! I know some people are outawarded (is that even a word), and do not want to be bothered accepting any more, I get it and won't take offense (it can be time consuming to fulfill, I know). Anyway, hope you have a terrif weekend and see ya next week! tinks

  34. Sometimes I write letters. Most of the time I'm too busy anymore these days. But I did take time to write city officials- along with a few hundred other folks- when a widely- used canyon became under threat of quarrying. The threat is still there but we're working on it...

  35. i do both. i tend to snail mail encouraging notes ... AH!which reminds me ... i need to send something out this week.

  36. ugh! How can he smile at a time like this??
    Thank you for your comments at my blog btw!

  37. I enjoyed reading your post. I believe in speaking your mind, if a person is in the right. Good luck getting your money, don't give up and it looks like you won't. Have a great weekend.

  38. Now, that IS a good question, who paid for the braces? Lol.

    Love the 68k check error. That's hilarious.

    I write letters, but mostly to friends and family. Enjoyed this post!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  39. I'm glad you take the time to write letters. I think they are important.
    I too have contacted my representatives by phone calls and letters regarding legislation. I've written the President.
    I've written corporations regarding products or sponsorship.

    So you are in good company.

    Thanks for visiting me and leaving your sweet comments.


  40. Your post has inspired me to not only pen one but two letters this weekend....thank you

  41. The last time I wrote a letter was 1997. It's email city for me now.

    Good luck getting your $600 (:

  42. I write love letters. I just think there isn't enough of those going around these days. Texts do NOT count.

    I also love that you write letters of praise too. Great service is so rare these days that it is worth rewarding. Then again did it ust seem like service was great when I was younger? Was it really just that my breast were six inches higher, I had no kids yet and young boys were doing the serving? hmmm

  43. Hi Joanna, thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy meeting new friends. I personally am not a letter writer, but more of a prayer warrior.
    God Bless, have a great weekend:)

  44. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you will visit again soon. My mom died a few years ago from complications related to her lupus and to cardio problems as well. She was misdiagnosed for so many years that the disease took its toll. I am so glad that much more has been done in terms of diagnosis and research now. I wish you all good things.


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