Cover art by Jennybird Alcantara // Doggo by Damedeso / getty images

Let the bells ring and confetti fall: We got a letter! An actual handwritten letter! In the mail.

This is a BIG deal, team! The Mercury rarely, if ever, gets handwritten letters anymore... and that is SAD. When we first started this paper (during the Coolidge administration), handwritten letters were the primary method of communicating with us, second only to the telegraph. (“DEAR HUMPY—stop. YOU SUCK—stop. PLEASE, STOP—stop.”) Our readers later pivoted to email and eventually social media to air their endless supply of grievances, which meant our only source of handwritten letters were coming from prison... and even they aren’t writing anymore! (I especially miss those from the women’s correctional unit.)

That’s why getting a letter is a real cause for celebration! And so, without further ado, here is the rarest gem an editor can ever receive these days: an actual, handwritten letter.

"Hey Wm. Steven: Since you take such great delight in denigrating Portland Public Schools, I was wondering if you or any of your staff condescend to actually volunteer at a Portland Public School?! Too busy humping, huh? With dismay & anger, Angry PPS Grandparent."

(Angry PPS Grandparent is referencing a recent column in which I announced my plan to make some extra skrilla by selling my name to struggling institutions in order to increase their popularity—for example, “Wm. Steven Humphrey’s Portland Public Schools.”)

I understand your concern, Angry PPS Grandparent! But as it turns out, I have condescended to volunteer at Portland Public Schools! In fact, I’ve condescended on a number of occasions—with the exception of chaperoning field trips due to my inability to pass their annoying “background check.” (As Angry PPS Grandparent correctly notes, “too much humping.”)

However, I have been allowed to perform some in-class volunteering, and while I’m always eager to share my exciting newspapering adventures with children, apparently my reputation has preceded me. Usually I’m banished to the school’s tiny copier room, where I spend two hours cutting construction paper into thousands of long, inch-wide strips to be used in some asinine art project that will be recycled within 10 minutes of arriving at my house. DO THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHO I AM??

In any case, Angry PPS Grandparent is right: We should support Portland Public Schools! And if you don’t want to cut strips of construction paper, you can always lobby for a statewide sales tax, so our teachers can finally be paid what they’re worth, and our kids can benefit from the programs we grew up with but took for granted: music, sports, and art classes—that is, the good kind that doesn’t involve long strips of construction paper.

All of this is to say, “Thanks for your handwritten letter, Angry PPS Grandparent!” Your effort is appreciated, and I’m saving your note in my box of “Cherished Mementos from Ye Olden Dayes of Newspapering.” (That’s where I keep my letters from the women’s correctional unit!)

Yer pal,
Wm. Steven Humphrey
Portland Mercury