In the spring of 2005, I began to receive a series of anonymous letters from a reader of The Richmond Register.
They were never — shall we say — complimentary.
Not in the least bit.
Most of them were just plain hateful.
Anyone who has worked in the newspaper industry for any period of time has experienced something like this.
The letters, though, were so ridiculous, crude and misinformed that I couldn’t help but to respond.
Like almost every other newspaper in the world, The Register will not print anonymous submissions. If you unable or unwilling to put your name and address on the letter, it simply won’t be published.
However, I couldn’t resist the urge to share some of the harsh criticism with the rest of our readers.
In a column, I detailed some of the most misguided statements made in the letter and responded to them in satirical fashion.
Here are some of the things the reader said about me:
“How does it feel to be an idiot?”
“You are ugly and your dress is a disgrace”
“Your sports pages are poor at best”
“It’s obvious you are a fan of ‘Prick’ Pitino and his Cards”
I addressed each of these comments and more, then wrapped up my response with this statement: “Anonymous letters will never be published and could very well make you the focus of a satirical column by an ugly, jealous, ignorant and poorly dressed sports writer.”
When I arrived at The Register the following day, I was given a standing ovation from the rest of the newsroom when I walked into the building.
The column also drew plenty of positive reaction from people in the community. A teller at my bank — who I did not know — even told me how much she liked it.
I felt pretty good about myself after that, I must admit.
Then a few weeks later, another letter arrived.
I’ll never forget opening it and reading the very first line.
“So, you think you are funny?”
The rest of the letter was another long list of my mistakes, short-comings and other ridiculously nit-picky criticisms.
I didn’t respond this time.
I wasn’t going to use space in this newspaper — which should be used to highlight the people of Madison County — to get into a war or words with some anonymous person.
The letters kept coming, though.
They were random and always filled with trivial complaints. I received probably five or six more of these over the next decade.
After a particularly vicious letter, I once again felt the need to respond.
In a column, I offered the anonymous reader a chance to take me to task in the pages of The Register. If he/she was brave enough to identify themselves, I would run, in the paper’s sports section, anything they wanted to say about me — completely unedited.
That was my offer.
It was that simple.
He/she never did take me up on that proposition.
The column, though, once again drew a huge reaction from our readers and my friends in the sports community around Madison County.
It became kind of running joke.
For weeks, I had people come up to me in public and admit, jokingly of course, to being the anonymous letter writer.
It’s been 10 years since that last letter and I still don’t know who sent them.
I guess I never will.
And that’s fine.
He/she could have moved away, passed away or simply stopped reading The Register.
I don’t know.
But, if you are still around, my offer still stands.