Shot down. Denied. Dismissed. Flipped the metaphorical bird. Admirable perhaps even commendable but not group X material. The terminology is colorful the envelopes are not. They are small, white and nondescript. Their words are as toxic as any powdery act of postal terrorism, though more painful and slower to kill.

Paul Wong
Aubrey Henretty<br><br>Neurotica

No matter which minced words and canned phrases grace the official stationery inside, rejection letters always say the same thing: “Dear insignificant speck,” they say. “You suck.” They”re signed, “Snarky Overlord, Assistant to the third sub-secretary of the Vice President of Public Affairs.” Or at least stamped.

Some VIPs with word processors have taken it a step further, thinking it clever to put a different name at the top of each letter. Apparently, they hope to fool everyone who didn”t make the team, qualify for the loan, get into the school, win the contest or get the job into thinking they spent hours with each letter, agonizing over every “regretfully” with utmost sincerity and concern.

Speaking as something of a rejection letter connoisseur, I wish they wouldn”t do that. I know a mass-produced rebuff when I read one, and the sight of my own lonely name in close proximity to the phrase “not selected at this time” has never been a great source of comfort to me. If all I”m worth to them is a two-cent photocopy, the least they can do is provide me with a list right there at the top where I can see it of everybody else in my shoes. I might want to meet them for coffee later so we can talk about how we didn”t really want this stupid thing, anyway. Or how we did.

Getting a rejection letter is a lot like getting dumped: You pine away for a while, send the object of your affection some wistful glances and/or an application. Bat your eyelashes. Wait violently while he makes up his mind. Before long, you see the little envelope (“It”s not you it”s me”) and (“regretfully”) it”s all over. So if you”re going to get dumped, wouldn”t you rather it be in the form of a cold shoulder from the cutie in Wednesday lecture (knowing a bunch of other people have seen this exact same shoulder) than the guy who took the time to get to know you, then deemed your personality too volatile for his liking?

Nothing fosters camaraderie quite like unrequited love. But not to worry: Even without company, there”s plenty you can do to take the sting away from your rejection letters. For starters, keep them. Tape them to the wall right next to your desk. Memorize them. Re-write them in iambic pentameter, reminding yourself that Albert Einstein got kicked out of school because they thought he was an idiot, that countless professional actors, athletes, musicians and artists had to spend a few years sleeping on benches before they struck it rich in their professions of choice, that 28 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss” first book because they thought it would never sell. Imagine the publishers telling Dr. Seuss he was no Einstein. Laugh maniacally.

Deferral letters add a whole new dimension to the fun. When group X tells me they”ve got my information on file should they need me in the future, I amuse myself for hours imagining what I”d write back if I ever heard from them again (“Thank you for your interest in me. I am sorry to inform you that out of the many, many acceptance letters I received, yours was the worst. Really. If acceptance letters were cities, yours would be Newark, N.J. You are worthless to me at this time. Best of luck in the future”).

Ultimately, such creative acts of revenge would probably meet the paper shredder before they met the people with the signature stamps. Even if my juvenile tauntings did manage to get past the overworked underlings and their sophisticated junk-mail filing systems, I doubt my rejection would affect the higher-ups the same way theirs affected me I”m sure they spend more time worrying about a little anthrax in the air than what other people think of them. Yikes. What sad, boring lives they must lead.

Aubrey Henretty can be reached via e-mail at ahenrett@umich.edu.

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