In college the goverment couldn’t decide whether I was a security risk or not. I used to protest a little then. So they decided to put a mail check on me. Every day the mail would come later and later, corners torn, never sealed correctly. I was more of an activist then. So I decided to fight fire with fire. I began writing letters to the guy who was reading my mail, adressed them to myself, but inside they went something like:
I’m not that different from you. All men are brothers. Tomorrow instead of reading my mail in that dark dusty hall why not bring it upstairs so we can check it out together.
I never got an answer. So I wrote another letter:
There are no heroes, no villains, no good guys, no bad guys, the world’s more complicated than that. Come on upstairs, so we can open a couple of beers and talk it all out.
Again no answer. So I wrote:
I’ve been thinking too much of my own problems, too little of yours. Yours can’t be a happy task reading another man’s mail. It’s dull, it’s unimaginative, it’s a job and let’s not mince words, it’s a hack. Yet I wonder, can this be the way you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a hack? Do you see yourself as the office slob? Have you ever wondered why they stuck you in this peticular job instead of others who have less seniority?
That letter never got delivered to me. So then I wrote:
Just a note to advise. You may retain my letters as long as you deem fit. Study them, reread them, think them out. Who back at the home office is out to get you? Who at this very moment is sitting at your desk, reading your mail? I don’t say this to be cruel, but because I’m the only one left you can trust.
No answer. But the next day, a man saying he was from the telephone company showed up, no complain had been made to check my telephone. Shaky hands, bloodshot eyes. And as he dismembered my telephone he said: “Look, what nobody understands is that everybody’s got his job to do. I got my job, in this case it’s preparing telephones, I like it or I don’t like it, but it’s my job. If I had another job, say with the F.B.I. or some place putting in a wire tab for example or maybe reading a guys mail—like it or don’t like it, it would be my job. Does anybody got the right to destroy a man for doing his job?”
I wrote one more letter, expressing my deep satisfaction that we had at last made contact and informing him that the next time he came say to read the meter I had valuable information, photostats, recordings, names, and dates about the conspiracy against him.
That letter showed up a week after I mailed it. It was torn in half and clumsily glued together again. In the margin on the bottom in large shaky letters was written the word PLEASE.
I wasn’t bothered again.