How (not) to Write a Memo

February 22, 2010by

First, you should not give your recipient the title “Mongoloid Esq.” Next, try and avoid phrases like “retarded and blighted” in reference to another’s worldview. It probably won’t do you much good, either, to label one of your partner companies a “faithless people.” Signing your correspondence “Yours in anger” is definitely not recommended. And finally, signing the name of your boss under “Yours in anger” is almost certain to be … well, counterproductive.

Advice taken from one of Ignatius J. Riley’s more innovative attempts at taking some initiative in A Confederacy of Dunces. (Get the audiobook from Audible) Here is the actual text of the memo, intended to resolve a complaint from a vendor about a recent shipment of Levi pants:

Mr. Ableman, Mongoloid Esq.

We have received via post your absurd comments about our trousers, the comments revealing as they did your total lack of contact with reality. Were you more aware, you would know or realize by now that the offending trousers were dispatched to you with our foreknowledge they were inadequate, so far as length was concerned. “Why? Why?” You are in your incomprehensible babble unable to assimilate stimulating concepts of commerce into your retarded and blighted worldview. The trousers were sent to you 1) as a means of testing your initiative. A clever, wide awake business concern should be able to make 3/4 length trousers a byword of masculine fashion. Your advertising and merchandising programs are obviously faulty. And 2) as a means of testing your ability to meet the standard requisite of a distributor of our quality product. Our loyal and dependable outlets can vend any trouser bearing the Levi label, no matter how abominable their design and construction. You are apparently a faithless people.

We do not wish to be bothered in the future by such tedious complaints. Please confine your correspondence to orders only. We are a busy and dynamic organization, whose mission needless effrontery and harassment can only hinder. If you molest us again, sir, you may feel the sting of the lash against your pitiful shoulders.

Yours in anger,

Gus Levi, President