While navigating the catacombs of our garage to kick off our house move in 2018, I found a letter I had written to my high school teacher regarding my final English paper – which I turned in a couple of weeks past its deadline. I found it amusing enough to be worth a share:
“Dear Dr. Scott,
I understand that this paper is far past its deadline and I just wanted to clarify as to why I was not able to turn it in on time. I had originally finished my paper well ahead of schedule. The day that it was assigned, I sat down before my computer that evening to get a head start. An hour later I was staring at a very badly worded paragraph and a whole lot of blank space beneath it. Growing weary of my struggle with writer’s block, I was getting dangerously close to the threshold of my frustration. Just as I was about to call it quits, I was suddenly struck by a moment of sheer brilliance.
Not knowing how long I would be able to keep control of this enlightened state, I immediately sat back down and seized control of the keyboard. Fueled by this profound intuition, I hammered away completely unrestrained over the next twelve hours (except for a short hotpocket break). As daylight began to seep in through the blinds of my bedroom window, I triumphantly drummed the final punctuation point with a deft tap of my finger. My saintly perception quickly dissipated and with it faded the recollection of what I had just written. I found myself drenched in sweat with a slight headache that was compensated for by the immense satisfaction I had in knowing that I had just completed perhaps the greatest work in the English language.
Just then, there was a brilliant flash of light and the room shook under a tremendous clapping sound. My nostrils were struck by a slightly gassy smell. As my eyes came back into focus they immediately snapped attention towards a scraggly looking figure standing ominously in the center of my room. He was draped in rags of an indescribable colour, his face smeared with dirt. His hair stood up on all ends and his toes poked pathetically out of the ends of two wretched excuses for shoes. I couldn’t help but notice something oddly familiar about him.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my room!” My voice came out squeakier than in my head.
He met me with a cold level stare and his icy reply formed thin layers of frost at my very most inner core. “I am you, from the future.”
As my brain fumbled with the attempt to register this, he proceeded to explain his presence. As he expressed himself, I suddenly became aware of his dashingly handsome features. He proceeded to explain that my writing of the paper, which directly answered the true meaning of life and the reason for the existence of the Universe, created such an uproar that society itself was shaken by its roots and overturned in turmoil so that humanity proceeded to self-destructing in a bloody mess over the next few decades until automated Starbuck’s coffee machines seized control, enslaving the entire human race
“…and so I have been sent back here to make sure that your paper never makes it out of the room,” he concluded as he drew from the confines of his rages a futuristic weapon resembling a toothpick with a bulbous red top.
“What is that? Are you going to kill me?” I breathed, eyes wide.
“No, this I just a match.” He/I struck it against his/my scruffy stubble and held it beneath my/his freshly written paper, which quickly went up in flames. As I stared fixated at the burning pages curling in towards one another in a smoldering mess on the floor, there was another brilliant flash of light and a tremendous clap and suddenly the figure was gone. I was left alone and immensely puzzled, feeling slightly nauseated by the reappearance of the gassy odor.
The whole ordeal was so traumatic that I found myself completely unable to recall even a fragment of my paper. And regrettably because I wrote the whole thing by typewriter there was no saved file to fall back on. Furious, I hurled my typewrite on the floor, smashing it beyond repair. Thus I had to set out to buy a computer so that I could begin writing my paper anew.
Unfortunately, by the time I had bought a computer, returned to my house, and had the whole thing set up and running, the computer had become obsolete. Disgruntled, I headed back to Best Buy only to find to my dismay that it had been replaced by a Starbucks. At this point, I decided to write my paper by hand.
After enduring severe muscle cramps and the onset of Carpal tunnel, I finally finished my paper, which I then mailed to a secret research center in Arizona with a small five-dollar cover fee. There a supercomputer typed up, analyzed, and grammatically corrected my paper in less than a tenth of a second. Unfortunately, the computer’s programmer was slightly dyslexic and he misread the return address, mailing my paper instead to a small Indian village in La Paz, Bolivia. The programmer called me and apologized profusely, telling me that he had the whole thing arranged so that it would be brought to me by llama-mail.
A few weeks later, there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find a brightly dressed Quecha Indian on the back of a very worn out looking llama. He had caught me off guard, and I had no cash on me to offer a tip. I presented my obsolete computer as a consolation prize. But the added weight of the computer on top of the long grueling trek proved too much for the exhausted llama, and as I transferred it into the hands of the reluctant Quecha, the llama’s back snapped, killing it instantly. By the time I had the whole thing settled in court, the paper’s deadline had come and gone. And that is why my paper is late.
Thanks for being so understanding,
P.S. (the suggested grade of Arizona’s secret research facility’s supercomputer was a 94).”
I didn’t find the paper itself, but as I recall it was “choose your own topic” and I decided to write on “procrastination.” My teacher found the combination of the letter and the paper amusing enough to give me a good grade instead of flunking me! Somehow I have a feeling that the letter wouldn’t be as effective if I missed a deadline for a project at work though…
– Nicolas C. Day
Note: To tie in at least one biblical point, I have in fact since learned the meaning of our existence (and no it did not cause the world to be overrun by Starbucks…at least not yet):
“Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’” (Isaiah 43:7 NLT)