Regarding the Letter

Five days ago, I read a witty e-mail from a man named Andrew Gardner. To amuse myself, I typed up a silly answer. It’s something I’ve done a few times in the past, but this was the first time I ever decided to hit “send”.

I did not expect that, by Monday, it would be on Boing Boing. Or that, by Tuesday, it would be on Toronto LifeThe Huffington Post, and getting tweeted by over a thousand people. Or that, by Wednesday, I’d be sitting at work trying to hide that I’m reading articles in the Star and the Globe and Mail about how Shoppers Drug Mart is trying to find me and can’t prove that I exist.

The joke was a lot funnier coming from a company than from some guy who wants you to pay attention to him, but I started feeling like I was actively lying to my employers. So, if I have to be honest, I might as well get some self-promotion. This is, after all, the closest thing I’ll have to a celebrity sex tape.

I am a writer, or, at least, am a writer in the way your friend who works in Customer Service but tells people he’s a writer is a writer. This a site where you can read things I’ve written.

I have also set up a Twitter, because apparently people on Twitter like the story. Maybe I will post some tweets. Maybe there will be Instagram photos of things I eat.

I hope you enjoy it.

8 thoughts on “Regarding the Letter

  1. Hi Mark: I am a literary agent with Westwood Creative Artists in Toronto and I got a kick out of the story of your SDM reply. I’ve also just read part one of The Locked Door and I wonder if you are envisioning this as a novel. If you have ambitions to publish a book length work, then I’d be interested in having a quick chat. You can reach me on email at jackie@wcaltd.com. Cheers, Jackie

  2. Hey, Mark: I direct-tweeted Margaret Atwood “A glimpse of dystopia from a Shoppers customer service rep. The boy has a bright future” with a link to the Star article—and she retweeted to her followers right away! Just now retweeted by @the_mighty_pen and others. Your cool factor is skyrocketing by the minute.
    P@MELA Capraru
    Copy Chief
    The Walrus and Azure magazines

      • You’re welcome, Mark. You made my day, over and over again, as I followed your story and watched it grow, because you responded to a client like a real human instead of a corp bot (one who shall remain nameless—okay, if you insist: Tammy Smithham). Rather than overstepping boundaries (hisssss, Shoppers!), you mirrored the client perfectly, and took ownership of the situation instead of relying on worn-out procedure.

        I’m serious, it wasn’t a full minute before Atwood re-tweeted, and I see the story is attracting some attention from at least one literary agent, something your blog might not have managed, at least not at the speed with which the future approaches.

        Have you googled yourself today? (“Mark Oliver” Shoppers, top seven hits). Bet that feels great, doesn’t it?

  3. Good work on getting some recognition at Shopper’s. My wife works there and I know how stuffy they are. Shopper’s should have you head up the marketing and fix up their crappy fliers. You should also capitalize on the “Everxis” term or at least get a huge promo at Shopper’s. Good luck and let them know that the new generation of shoppers don’t like companies that take themselves too seriously.

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