Handwritten letters are a lost art. I think it is fair to say that this is the result of texting, e-mails, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to name a few. Instantaneous communication and gratification. Some might say it is the problem with today’s society.
Why take the time to grab a pen and paper when your smart phone is in your hand. Heck, push an icon and talk to text. Auto spell check (much needed in my case), word choice prediction speeds us thru the process of sharing our thoughts. K, OMG, emoji’s, memes, all can project our intent and meaning.
As an old guy, I fall into the category of being well, old. Not so much that I shun technology. Our chosen profession as distributors of information requires using the newest and best methods. Yet there is a time a place for being old school.
We recently lost a colleague, Larry Wright. You may not know or remember him. Larry was a longtime IPMA member and a longtime member of the Board of Directors. He was soft spoken and gave his all for whatever activity he was involved in. All too many people have passed during the last few years in our professional and in our personal lives. Opportunities now past to say the things you may have wanted to.
We all have mentors, friends, and colleagues that have influenced us over the years. These people have helped us get to where we are today. Most of mine have passed on. As I reflect on their names, faces, and the time we spent together, it leads me to a melancholy place. One where you smile and maybe cry a little. It is at these times of contemplation you should ditch the technology and pen a letter to those that are still around. As kids we loved to receive mail. As adults we worry about the mail we receive, as it is generally bills. Wouldn’t be nice to get a card or letter from an old friend or from a co-worker?
Taking the time to hand write a note, card or letter has a special feel to it. It shows the author took the time to put their thoughts on paper. I know for me, handwriting a letter is very difficult and time consuming, due to my horrendous handwriting and spelling (thank you Illinois public schools and that period in the 60’s when they dumped teaching phonics). I will say that messy handwriting is the sign of a fast-paced brain and I’m sticking to that.
I whole heartedly believe in this practice, but like many of you, finding time is a challenge. You shouldn’t limit yourself to family and friends. Co-worker, colleagues, and mentors would benefit from a simple letter. When I receive a handwritten note, I understand that someone took the time and effort to tell me something. Maybe the message isn’t critical, but the meaning behind the message is. You are important enough for someone to take the time to put it on paper.
I guess my message is to take the time to express yourself to those that matter. Maybe your generation doesn’t get it or understand the meaning behind this type of communication. Nevertheless, you ought to give it a try and see how it makes you feel and more importantly how it makes the recipient feel.
John Sarantakos received IPMA’s Outstanding Contributor Award for 2022. Read the press release at John Sarantakos, Director of Print and Mail Services, University of Oklahoma Named IPMA Outstanding Contributor.
John Sarantakos is the Director of Print and Mail Services at the University of Oklahoma. His operation is one of the largest university in-plant printers and mailers in the country with over sixty full time staff members and a budget of more than $16 million in annual sales. The staff at Printing and Mailing has earned over 260 awards for printing quality and innovative ideas. John has been with the university for 25 years and prior to that served as Director of Production at Indiana University. Before entering the in-plant management field, John was an Assistant Professor of Graphics at Central Missouri State University and taught and coached at Pontiac Township High School and Livingston Area Vocational Center in Illinois. He has over 50 years of experience in the printing field as a manager, educator, and craftsperson.
John received a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Industrial Education from Western Illinois University and a Master of Sciences degree in Graphic Arts Management from Central Missouri State University.
John is a Past President of the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association, and he served on the Board of Directors for many years. The Franklin Stamp and Ink Society was his brainchild in 2012 after he earned his CGCM. He wanted to devise a method to elevate the CGCM/CMM members and provide leadership and mentorship opportunities to the that group.
He has written frequently and been featured in In-Plant Impressions/Graphics magazine, he writes a blog titled “The ravings of a mad printer” and speaks regularly on industry related topics.