[Letter Talk] Mail Bag #7 – Out of Stock Special!

This week’s episode is special! I’m participating in a project called “Out of Stock.” It’s where folks create new art based on weird stock photographs. You can find the project at Out-of-stock.net or @out__of__stock on Twitter.

Each letter today has been inspired by a Stock photo that was chosen for me by my friend Cody for the Out of Stock project. My image is picture of a young guy with glasses, in a boat that’s made out of hundred dollar bills, and he’s floating in the sun on a cartoon ocean. 

That being said, today you’ll hear me search for truth, send a suggestion to a big company, and write a letter to an old work friend.


Dear Nicolas Cage in National Treasure,

First of all, I know there are so many Nicolas Cages, so I wanted to make sure that you have the right Nicolas Cage hat on for this request. I’m sending you this letter because I think you’re probably the best person to talk to about this mystery I’m trying to solve. Also, apologies for not remembering your character’s name in the movie. I just googled it a few minutes ago and already forgot it. It seems unnecessary for me to know it though, because I assume that you have all the abilities of Colonel Mustard or whatever your movie guy was named.

Before I get to business though, I wanted to confirm something with you. One of the department heads from a previous job said he was a stand in for you during one of those movies, is that true? I don’t know if you’d know him, he was theoretically an actor, which I found astounding because he couldn’t even *act* like he gave a shit about his employees. He was quite unpopular with many folks in the department.

I remember a meeting I had with him a while back. The company had denied my request to transfer to another location, so I said I was going to quit and move anyway. What I learned from previous relationships with poor communication is that what you always have to do is threaten to break up with them, because that’s how you get people to listen. I was in tears, and the waterworks didn’t stop. I felt like I turned his office into a damn ocean. I truly loved that job, and didn’t want to leave.

The boss just looked at me. Dead in the eyes. He never got to know me very well, so I think he barely knew that I did comedy, and that’s the reason I wanted to move to bigger city. After some icy silence he said, “Well, where you’re moving, the Improv comedy scene is where it’s at.” I think at that point I swam toward the door, uselessly wiping tears from my face, grabbed my shit, and went home.

The next day I recounted the story during a one on one meeting with my direct supervisor. I started to cry again and in my whiniest voice wailed, “And then he tried to talk to me about Improv. I DON’T EVEN DO IMPROV.” …like that was the worst offense committed by this company. Sure they routinely underpaid employees, promoted only one specific type of person when they didn’t hire from the outside, and failed to recognize and keep good talent, but clearly the worst was that in a meeting someone responded to a tearful notice of resignation with, “YES AND improv is great there” …and I said, “No but I don’t’ do that” and cried about it for days.

The meeting with my supervisor occurred in an entirely glass conference room near the front entrance of the building for everyone to see. My whining and waterworks were on display like I was an overdramatic trinket on a curio shelf. It was a true glass case of emotion.

Anyway, do you remember that department head? One time he told us he was about to be cast in Game of Thrones. I didn’t believe him. I always thought he was making that shit up, or rather “using the magic of improv!”

Alright now on to business, I found this artifact photo and I was hoping you could help me find the meaning or origin. Here’s the photo in question. As you can see it’s a man riding a boat made out of hundred dollar bills in a bright ocean when the sun is out. Is it some sort of ancient glyph? What does it mean? Was it stolen from some ancient people? Is it one of the pictures in the Mayan calendar? Do they do a different picture for every month like we do?

Anyway, if you get a chance please carefully examine this artifact and tell me everything you know about it. I calmly await your response.

Keep on truckin’


Dear Merrill Lynch,

Listen, I know that Americans have been reeling from the recent stock market dip, and I’m sure you’re getting many frantic calls from customers. I’m sure they’re shouting things like, “Did my money bills disappear?” “I hear the Federal Reserve is ISIS now, is that true?” and “What is this ‘Great Depression’ my wife says she’s in right now? What is it? Do I need to be alarmed? Should I pull money out of the stock market?”

I know you’re going to need a lot of extra help, so I wanted to pass along this photo I found of someone who I think would be a perfect fit for your organization.

Look at this man. LOOK AT HIM. You’re not looking! Alright, now that you’re finally looking, see… doesn’t this look like someone who could do great things for Merrill Lynch? Check out all the great things he has to offer:

  • He’s got glasses, so we know he’s smart.
  • He wears a white shirt, so we know he won’t risk eating nachos at his desk, and if he does, well we just know he’s ADVENTUROUS!
  • He has so much money he can make a boat out of hundred dollar bills, so he obviously knows what he’s doing.
  • He’s so smiley and optimistic, his portrait just screams smooth sailing. PUN INTENDED
  • This is a handsome guy who can make the sun light up!
  • He wears a belt, too! There’s no way his pants will accidentally fall down, so he’s less likely to be a creep!
  • Red glasses?! Ha ha, what are you like?! Who needs an office funny guy! I bet you guys do!

Please show this photo to your hiring manager ASAP and find this man!

I’ve also enclosed a picture of the Pokemon Marill. Can you confirm why your company spells Marrill differently? Is it because Marrill wasn’t in the first 151, so you don’t respect it as much? Because I totally get that, but once you start to get into it more you’ll start to love and respect the new ones just as much. You may even consider hiring a Marrill to boost morale, w  ith it’s peppy vibe and big eyed smiling face. It’s even a water pokemon, so it would get along with boat guy if you hire him! It would be your Merril Lynch Morale Marill. Neat!

With love,


Dear Paul Ryan,

Did you know that if you buy english muffins that aren’t already split in half, you can sometimes save money? It just means you have to split them yourself. Bummer! Or is it?

It’s all about fiscal responsibility!!

Keep raging inside that machine, man,


Dear David,

First of all, i just want to tell you how happy I am to be in touch with you again. And it seems like we were last in touch, your life has changed a lot for the better. I’ve kept up with you vicariously through Emily for a while… which was helpful for a bit, as I’ve seen that you’ve wisely taken yourself off the grid. I’m supremely jealous of that, especially since just a few minutes before writing this letter I scrolled through about 10 Instagram photos before deciding that I need to come to terms with the fact that I am dying alone. *SPOILER ALERT!* (What’s sad is that I don’t even like Instagram, I downloaded it again so I could post a picture for the dumb podcast we’re participating in right now.)

David, I admire you like I admire the man in this picture:

You both cheer up my day and I have all the confidence in the world that you both will reach your goals and are smooth sailing. PUN INTENDED

But you don’t remind me of him in some ways… like you’re smart enough to keep your money in your wallet and not build vehicles on it to ride across the sea to freedom. Also, to my knowledge you don’t tuck your dress shirts in your jeans like you’re Jerry Seinfeld going on a date.

Dude, you were one of the people at that former job I used to look forward to seeing every day. I’m glad you’ve been able to get so good at your work and contribute so much. I’m sure you make the workplace better for many other people like you did for me.

I remember when I worked there, I had a daily goal to “break David.” It basically meant I tried every day to message you something so funny that you wouldn’t be able to stop laughing. And since you have such a distinct laugh, hearing it ring through the office always made it contagious and other people couldn’t help but join in. And if anybody didn’t like it, well they were a no fun monster, and also that’s the job hazard of open office structures. Sometimes I feel like the only people who should have open offices are people who work at the New York Stock Exchange, since that’s mostly dudes in suits shouting at people at other desks and waving around papers furiously, like they’ve never heard of using your hands to gesticulate. For fuck sakes people, it’s yelling at your co-workers, not prop comedy, file that shit away.

I know there are probably a hundred inside jokes that I could share from our days at work, but for now I will keep them in our chat with Emily and in a file on my computer that I kept from when I left.

Dude, you are so funny and artistically talented, and I want to thank you for brightening my day. I can’t wait for you to come visit us on the east coast. I’ll see you in the chat.