from ‘best’ to ‘warmly’

a post from adam:
Here’s a story.

I’m hammering away at my computer during an entirely usual workday, and have descended into a task-driven state of emailing and order entry. I finish another order, and then push off the next email for a moment.

I turn to my writing folder, and read through the poem I have just posted on this very blog, ‘What Mary Oliver might be Thinking’. My grandparents have recommended I send the poem along to Mary Oliver herself. So, I wander about the internet for a bit, searching for any kind of contact information that might lead me to the poet’s mailing address. I stumble upon ‘The Steven Barclay Agency’, the company that represents Mary Oliver in her speaking engagements.

I quickly decide to write a letter to the agency, pleading with them to pass along my poem to the poet herself. But, what does one write in this kind of situation? I am excited, embarrassed, and generally awkward as I type a calculated email. I address an agent, Eliza Fischer, whose contact information was available on the website, and I include my own poem as an attachment:

Hi Eliza,

My apologies for contacting you without any prior introduction. I am writing in hopes of obtaining Mary Oliver’s mailing address. I am sure you receive a multitude of such queries, and my request is certainly not any more significant than the next. However, I have written a poem in her honor, and hoped to share it with her personally. I have attached the poem to this email for your consideration.

Thank you so much for your response. If I am contacting the wrong person, please let me know to whom I should submit my request.

Best Regards,

Adam Schaechterle

US National Junior and College Team Manager

Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

8750 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60631, USA

Tel. +1773.714.6753, fax +1773.714.4582

adam.schaechterle@wilson.com www.wilson.com www.amersports.com

But after writing this email, I muse about the agency’s website for a few minutes, and I end up stumbling on their FAQ’s, which state the following:

How can I get a personal letter to one of your clients?

We usually forward mail (via USPS) to our clients once a week. Please send your letters (NO PACKAGES, however small: letters only, please) to our offices and we will forward. DO NOT SEND manuscripts, books, galleys, or proposals, as we will not forward them. Along with your letter, please include enough stamps to cover the correct forwarding postage. Please do not put your return address on the forwarding envelope.

Oh no! Embarrassed that I did not read this note before sending my first email, I quickly send another follow up email as an apology. At this point, I do not expect any kind of response from the agency. However, what happens next becomes a Corporate America miracle. Follow the email thread below.

From: Schaechterle, Adam [mailto:Adam.Schaechterle@wilson.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:55 AM
To: Eliza Fischer
Subject: Apology

Hi Eliza,

I’m so sorry to disturb you. I just checked out your FAQ, and realized that I will need to send a letter to your offices directly for it to be forwarded to an author. I will certainly follow those instructions!

Have a great day,

Adam Schaechterle

US National Junior and College Team Manager

Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

8750 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60631, USA

Tel. +1773.714.6753, fax +1773.714.4582

adam.schaechterle@wilson.com www.wilson.com www.amersports.com

From: Eliza Fischer [mailto:eliza@barclayagency.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:59 PM
To: Schaechterle, Adam
Subject: RE: Apology

Very good, Adam! We’ll be happy to forward your letter on to Mary for you.


Best,

Eliza

Eliza Fischer

Steven Barclay Agency

12 Western Avenue

Petaluma, CA  94952

Tel: 707-773-0654

Fax: 707-778-1868

Web: www.barclayagency.com


From: Schaechterle, Adam [mailto:Adam.Schaechterle@wilson.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 3:09 PM
To: Eliza Fischer
Subject: RE: Apology

Thanks so much, Eliza. I sent my letter via regular US mail today.

Have a great evening!

Adam


From: Eliza Fischer [mailto:eliza@barclayagency.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 5:12 PM
To: Schaechterle, Adam
Subject: RE: Apology

Perfect!

Have a terrific evening, yourself, Adam!

(Have you ever met Roger Federer? We adore him in our household. Maybe I should write a poem to him that you could forward on!)


Eliza

Eliza Fischer

Steven Barclay Agency

12 Western Avenue

Petaluma, CA  94952

Tel: 707-773-0654

Fax: 707-778-1868

Web: www.barclayagency.com


From: Schaechterle, Adam [mailto:Adam.Schaechterle@wilson.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 3:27 PM
To: Eliza Fischer
Subject: RE: Apology

Yes, I have had that pleasure. My first assignment on the job was to travel to Wimbledon last year to help out at the tournament. While there, we had a frantic request come in from corporate—Roger Federer autographed products were needed for an auction. They sent me to the house Roger was renting (the town of Wimbledon does not hold any hotels) loaded down with bags and other goodies. When I knocked on the door, I expected to be received by his agent or girlfriend or some other houseguest. But, instead, he answered himself. Not knowing what to say, I muttered, “Hello, I’m Adam.” With a slight smirk, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey. I’m Roger,” all the while completely aware that I knew exactly who he was.

Roger is polite and charming, and certainly fulfills what one would hope for from his media image. The only thing remarkable about his character is an uncanny confidence that exudes around him as an almost palpable sphere. It does knock you in the face while shaking his hand, that he is completely sure of himself in every movement—down to the slightest facial expression.

If you have a poem you would like to pass along, I would certainly oblige!!!

Well, I can certainly say this has been my most gratifying email conversation of the day. I will be on the lookout for your poem.

Adam


From: Eliza Fischer [mailto:eliza@barclayagency.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 5:42 PM
To: Schaechterle, Adam
Subject: RE: Apology

OK, I am now in complete awe of you, Adam. Complete and utter awe. There truly is no other athlete that has the elegance in carriage, both in the arena and out, as Roger Federer. He is so satisfying to watch. And to read the description of your encounter with him is to have my hopes of who he might actually be verified. (You and I both have such great fortune to work with these heroes of their craft, eh?)


Now about the poem… I don’t think that I could muster anything remotely poetic for RF – a man of such physical poetry – but I appreciate the offer nonetheless!

And know that the next time that Mary Oliver is in the Chicago area, I will arrange for you and a guest to see her. It would be my pleasure.

What a lovely way to have a day of madness draw to a close – thank you, Adam! Write me anytime!

Warmly,
Eliza

Eliza Fischer

Steven Barclay Agency

12 Western Avenue

Petaluma, CA  94952

Tel: 707-773-0654

Fax: 707-778-1868

Web: www.barclayagency.com


As a follow up to this email train, it is worth noting that I received a package at my office a few short days later. Eliza sent me an audio cd of Mary Oliver reading her own poems, bound in a beautiful companion book, accompanied by a short, handwritten note, “To Adam- With Best Wishes- Eliza”

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4 responses to “from ‘best’ to ‘warmly’

  • Bobby

    i hate to believe that the borders between “them” and “us” exist in the first place. whether celebrities, or poets, or athletes…i’ve always believed firmly that they’re “people” first and thus should be as accessible just like all people. it makes me delighted when this is actually the case.

  • C. Trina

    Simply beautiful.

  • Charles

    This is one of the more interesting email threads I’ve read. It reads like a rapid-fire short story filled with intrigue and plot twists – quite Kerouac-esque in its pace. I eagerly await its conclusion: Adam’s face-to-face meeting with Mary Oliver herself! Finally, the Schaechterle Code is broken: The mysterious definition of “Schaechterle” is (drum roll please): • \Schae-chter-le\ • noun The unusual intersection of poetry and tennis; when the worlds of poetry and tennis collide due to an odd series of events.

  • Zach Dillon

    This insprires hope in the rest of us stuck in corporate America Hell that never understand how e-mails become so convoluted and misunderstood. I may have to reply with a post on ‘when corporate America e-mail goes wrong…’ Then again, you probably have me beat on that department as well…Dibs on that companion ticket? Kristen has been asking me for it.

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