The Northville Review
an online literary journal

Dan Moreau

To the barista with a Liberal Arts degree who makes my coffee

You are not smarter than your customers. Going back to school (unless it’s for law) will not solve your problems. Don’t quit your job. Times are tough. Why do you ask me if I need room for cream each time when you know I don’t? Would it kill you to smile? If I don’t tip it’s because I’m already paying $5 for coffee and steamed milk.

To the guy in the business suit who comes in every morning and doesn’t tip

Do I look like I’m made of money? Would it kill you to leave a tip every once in a while? Do you know how much I make? $7.50 an hour, that’s how much, and that’s before taxes and the Republican administration you support takes its cut from my already meager paycheck. Why don’t you try waking up at five in the morning while it’s still dark and cold out? See how smiley you are then, when you don’t have health insurance and are afraid of getting sick or injured.

To the guy in the black tinted SUV riding my tail

Honking won’t make me go any faster. Nor will tail-gating me. There are cars in front of me and unlike you I don’t want to get into a rear-end collision. Go ahead, go around me. See how much that helped you. You’re stuck in the slow lane now behind a truck.

To the jerk in the fast lane who won’t let me by

You’re holding up traffic. If you’re going to drive that slow, move over. You’re not the only person on this planet, you know. Other people have to get to work, too. Have some respect and common courtesy for your fellow motorist. So, you supported Kerry/Edwards in ’04? No wonder. All you Democrats are alike. Get out of my way.

To the boring ass, slightly lecherous English professor who gave me a B

I worked all night on that paper. I’ve never gotten a B in my entire life. English was my strongest subject in high school. All my teachers in high school said what a good writer I was. Do you know what a B on a transcript means to someone applying to medical school in two years? It means not getting into my first choice (Columbia) and settling for my second (Baylor). Also, I thought your lectures were a bore and a waste of time. Plus I know how you were staring at me during your office hours. A man of your age, you should be ashamed.

To the student petitioning for a grade change

You’re wasting your time. Only I can change a grade and going over my head to the department chair only irritates me and make me less likely to change it. Now, if you came to see me in first place, things might have been different. We might have been able to talk about it. I might even have been able to show you that your paper, although good, was weak in many parts, especially in your transitions. Besides, getting a B isn’t the end of world. When I was in college, in fact, a B was quite respectable, the A reserved for only truly outstanding work. So don’t complain.

To the guy who’s been stealing my morning newspaper

I know who you are and where you live. I have pictures of you (ill-shaven and in a ratty bathrobe) casually leaning over and reaching for my paper. I will be sending said pictures to the police shortly, along with your name and address. Enjoy!

To the guy whose paper I’ve been stealing

Relax. It’s just a paper.

To the literary magazine editor who rejected my perfectly fine story about my dying grandfather and his last wish for me to spread his ashes over the side of a mountain, not just any mountain, but Mt. Rainier in Washington state

I will have you know that my parents read that story and it made them cry. I will also have you know that I hold many degrees from many a prestigious institution. I have also been told that I have an innate talent for storytelling. I will also let you know that I am sending back your impersonal rejection slip along with a ten-page explainer (single space, ten-point type) on why I think your judgment—and magazine—suck.

To the guy who keeps sending us stories about his dead grandfather

Please. Enough already.

To the guy holding up the line at the Chick-fil-A

Your order’s ready, buddy.

To the guy in line behind me breathing down my neck

This line won’t move any faster if you keep bumping into me.

To the sitting President Of The United States of America

I am ccing this letter to the Attorney General and the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. I will be bringing charges against you of crimes against humanity, lying to the American public and starting a war under false pretenses.

To the guy sending threatening letters to the President

The Secret Service is outside your door. They want to talk to you.

To the doorman in my building who keeps asking me if I live here


To the guy who loses his cool every time I ask him if he lives in the building

I’m just doing my job. I’m new and still learning faces. In time I will recognize yours too, unless you keep treating me like a nobody in which case I will continue to pester you.

To the I’m-too-busy-talking-to-my-co-worker-to-help-actual-customers employee who won’t accept my return

So what if the box’s opened? So what if I don’t have a receipt? So what if the item is dinged up a bit? So what if it’s past the ninety day return limit? I want my money back. And if you don’t give me my money back I will ask to speak to your manager. How do you like that?

To the customer who’s shouting at me and thinks he can return anything he wants, even something he’s clearly used

My manager’s on break and why don’t you take your sorry ass home and your nasty toaster oven along with you?

To the bum who sleeps in my storefront and I have to chase away each morning

Get a job and stop sleeping in my storefront.

To the kind shop owner who lets me sleep in his storefront

Thank you.

About the author

Dan Moreau is the recipient of an Emerging Writer grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. His work is forthcoming in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Red Cedar Review and KNOCK.