The arrival of a strange e-mail


The following essay was produced as part of my 2013 effort for the November National Novel Writing Month effort. As such, please understand that while I did give it a quick review, it has not gone through the same proofreading and editing I normally try to give all of the material posted on this site.

I always make some mistakes. There are errors to be found throughout this web site, and many exist despite dozens of attempts to correct problems. That said, ask that you approach this material in the spirit intended – a basic thought, slightly worked out and very informally researched, delivered in the hopes of writing more than 50,000 words by the end of November.

Thank you.

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Unedited. Word for word. (And quotated.)

“Hello! how are you and every family? I wanna to working you have in your city. I make cakes and breads in the bakery. please send me information every work you have usa.... I love honest words I say thanks for you ???”

I mean… really… where do you begin? I suppose we can get some of the basics out of the way.

Yes. I did my research into this. If I planned on making fun of it, then it meant I should take a look around. And get this… just from using the e-mail address of the sender and a really basic internet search, I found a match. (Sort of.) A comment was left on someone’s blog post. That comment spelled the e-mail address differently, but was so close that it easily might have been a simple typo. The bakery was mentioned again though! This time: “I work in cakes and breads at Bakery.” (I’m not going to source the quote… I am not looking to start a battle or spread some hideous links around the net. It’s also not amazingly important to our story. Just trust me.)

Obviously though, when it comes to the electronic age, we can’t afford to be naïve. E-mails from sources you don’t recognize are not to be trusted. Never use the links or attachments, or even respond to them. Let’s just get that stated out in the open… because I’m going to slightly swim against the flow of responsible, appropriate thinking for a moment.

I’ve seen many articles that point out just that type of approach in fraudulent and scam-based e-mail contacts. The central idea being: if a poorly edited, confusing, and somewhat careless unsolicited e-mail gets a person to respond to it, there’s a really good chance that person won’t catch on to an elaborate scam and actually report it. No… they’ll be more likely to fall for it.

And so, if we accept the e-mail I received in a simple, naïve manner, then the results of the search seems to confirm something quite important in our comments and observations here… English is a second language.

And if approached that way, then I give that a huge nudge in the direction of forgiveness and understanding. If I tried to communicate in any of the other languages that might even remotely pass as a second one for me, chances are I would be asking why there are two women crying in the bacon… would want to know if I could rent an apple pie… and likely would be extremely fortunate to find the nearest bathroom in an emergency.

And there is something interesting to grab onto there.

Years ago, I saw a fast food company create an ad that was so ridiculously unhealthy and over the top I thought for certain their advertising department had lost all grasp of reality. Then it hit me… they weren’t advertising to the masses. Vegetarians and healthy-eating individuals were not likely to walk through the door. Ever. So why adjust an advertising campaign to be predictably, socially correct, when the majority of people that would care about it being just so weren’t going to come in the door and make a purchase? Does it really matter what they think if they aren’t going to shop anyway? Of course not.

And if you are scamming people… under the same general concept… why would you need to perfect your approach for people that would question it anyway? Lions look for the weak and vulnerable. Duh… life in the jungle… identify and isolate.

And so… the naïve approach -- it’s a person that doesn’t understand English that well. Then the researched and developed approach -- it’s a person that really doesn’t care whether I figured out the worm was on a hook and swam by, there are other lines in the water and fish to catch.

Here’s where things get a bit strange though. The e-mail was sent to my Local Friend’s address. Go back for a moment, and read it again while thinking that it was sent to Local Friends for Local Business. Suddenly have… strange may not begin to describe it… a job application!

(I know!)

(But there it is.)

A cordial greeting… a desire to find employment in my city… a resume, or at least a listing of credentials… a request for additional information… a thank you and goodbye.

Now… of course, Local Friends for Local Business is not an employer. It’s not a business. It’s an effort to support the community… the neighborhood… the treasures all around us. Still… for someone struggling with English… friends for business sounds promising. Yes?

And there is no actual city associated with me or Local Friends. Although, a quick look over the history of the program would show that most of the visits I’ve made have been in the northeast (or along the east coast).

Amazingly enough, I’m probably more confused by this e-mail now than I was when I received it.

Initially, it was headed to the trash. Goodbye. Never to be thought of again. (And that is probably exactly what it deserves. Just like those offers for medication and drugs from foreign countries… requests from girls that claim I exchanged pictures with them and want to come to the US to meet me… and so on.)

But something… maybe nothing more than a pressing need to develop an essay… caught me in a curious moment. And that something, while almost certainly misplaced, for a moment at least has me wondering not just if things are as they appear, but actually, wondering how it is that they do appear.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at