Sheryl Hyten's Sample Writing

An Open Letter of Long Overdue Thank You

By Sheryl Hyten

Dear High School Teacher,

I am writing with the hope that you are well, that the years you spent doing the job you so often complained about were not too hard on you.  You may not remember me, but many years ago I sat in your class. I was a difficult student; always raising my hand, sometimes needing to use the restroom, frequently acting like a teenager, and often confused by curriculum the state deemed age appropriate. One day in particular, I attempted to turn in an assignment late, (there were many factors such as family and financial problems that contributed to, but were no excuse for, this) and with a wagging finger and an I-mean-business scowl you refused to take it, saying, “You’ll thank me for this someday.”  Well, that someday is now. Here is the thank you you’ve been waiting fifteen years for.

It is important I begin by reassuring you. I think it will be a great relief to your mind that I did not, in fact, “wind up flipping burgers” or “homeless, living off the taxpayer’s dime.” You will be happy to know that I am a contributing member of society, as your constant reference to this inevitable future was interpreted to mean it was a deep concern, weighing heavily upon your heart.

You can now sleep easy, knowing that I currently work in money management. I owe my success, in great part, to the lessons you taught me, as I have transferred those lessons to my work in the business world.

First, and foremost, if a client cannot get the requested paperwork in by the date determined by me, that paperwork will not be accepted. At all. Ever. This, of course, means they will have to take their business elsewhere, to those other companies that tolerate lazy, irresponsible people who are affected by life’s circumstances. That is fine with me. If they cannot meet a deadline, I do not want their money to begin with.

Next, if a client is struggling to understand or fulfill tasks I have assigned, I am sure to roll my eyes and sigh heavily to communicate my frustration with their ineptitude. This ensures my client knows how inconvenient their existence is. This is intended to prevent them from wasting my time by speaking up with important questions in the future.

As some of my clients know just how important this subject of money really is, he or she may persist in asking for clarification despite my efforts to thwart this waste of my time. If this is the case, to ensure their understanding, I repeat what I have said the first time, only louder, and slower. It is more likely that my client suffers hearing loss than it is that my instructions were convoluted or contradictory.

In all of these interactions, I am sure to remain at my desk. My desk and desk chair are modified to a height of four feet. This large, looming object placed between me and my client serves as a barrier, illustrating that my caring and compassion are limited, and the height ensures that everyone “knows their place.”  Never do I come around from behind my desk, as that would be seen as weakness, as subservience – or worse, a willingness to put forth effort.

And finally, no matter what, I do not, absolutely do not let my client leave to use the restroom. If they needed to go they should have thought of that before coming to my office. Besides, we all know those insolent little fuckers are just in there getting high.

These indispensable lessons were imparted unto me by you and have led to my success. They are why my three clients are lucky to have me. (And why more clients would hire me if they knew what was good for them.)  For all of this and the 89.6 I made in your class, I thank you.

Sincerely,

The Kid Whose Name You Never Learned