Greetings and Salutations!

Or, as I like to refer to this topic, how to be as NICE or as ANAL in the briefest way possible.

How you you greet your friends or colleagues in an email? Is it Hi or Good Morning? Or now that we all text, it more like:


(PS. Many years ago I thought I would have to get advice from the Navajo Code Breakers to figure all this stuff out).

Meg has a credo, and that is choose your opening lines in business correspondence wisely. Meg’s greetings are good morning or afternoon, followed by her request. She learned a long time ago that even the simple appearance of being nice can go a long way, and she never launched into a request without some sort of social grace framing it.

Meg never knew what to think about the boss that opened every memo with:

Meg. Hello.

Like are you a robot or something? What the hell is that? And then the request was something crazy like do an entire estimate on a project in less than an hour. On Christmas Eve. I think that actually happened the day I was leaving that job, which explains it all.

If Meg had something difficult to discuss, many times, she would just pop into the person’s office and give it the personal touch. Or email the person saying:

Hi, can we get together later this afternoon to go over a few things?”

It’s a nice, non-defensive way to open up a dialog and get things off on the right foot.

And how to get on the wrong foot? Anyone ever get a note that said this?

So Meg’s boss left this note on an empty pendaflex, which formerly had a file in it. The empty folder was sitting in a locked cabinet amongst 600 + other employee personnel files. You see, Meg’s offense was that she had LEFT that empty folder in the file drawer after she pulled the confidential folder and sent it off to the person’s new department.

Meg’s job required her to cover 600 people in 22 buildings, making time for people on second and third shifts, using translators for those employees that did no speak English, and even using sign language interpreters! She also had to cover phones for three other people, and blah blah, blah. But this woman considered it a major offense that an empty pendaflex was left behind in a file cabinet.

Since then, Meg has learned to phrase “see me” is used because it’s more about the person having their own hangups and issues. The last time someone emailed Meg “see me”, she casually waited several hours and popped into the person’s office, with a cheerful, “did you need me for something?” She felt she diffused the person’s little temper tantrum by waiting and simply not reacting to such a juvenile request.

Meg would love to know if you have a phrase that you find ridiculous like this one.

In the meantime, Meg sends you her very best regards for a fabulous day. If she just said “regards” you know she’d be pissed at you. It’s all in the BEST people.

And Her Journey Ends.

Meg is feeling a little down today; she got news that her aunt passed away early today.

Last year she wrote about Mary, and told you a little of her story.

Actually, I always called her Mare, just like Rhoda Morgenstern called Mary Richards “Mare”. It was a term of endearment, and it was the name that truly fit her best. Mary was not a whole lot older than me, just a mere 12 years. I never prefaced her name with Aunt, she was way too hip and cool for that; we were always Mare and Marg. She was the person that got her long hair ironed on an ironing board, drove a blue Mustang, and took me to my first professional sporting event. After a wild hockey game at the Boston Garden, she let me hang out and meet the players, while she and her boyfriend hung back and drank long neck beers out of brown paper bags.

Mare dry cleaned her jeans, and was the first person I knew that decorated their apartment with hanging ferns and stick on mirrors. She had a stereo stashed in an antique ice chest, and it played “Bette Davis Eyes“. She was the queen of thrift stores and shopping, never missing a bargain or snagging a classic piece of jewelry.

She lived in an apartment where I could swim in the pool with Bryant Gumbel’s best friend, have cocktails on the patio, and end the day with cheeseburgers on the grill.

She was the person that left New England, to live her dream in California. She lived on the beach, rode her bike, traveled and collected treasures to decorate her cute little seaside abode. I was always amazed and astounded that she decamped from Boston to California, being on her own, living the life she always wanted.

Things became sad at one point; we had become estranged; my mom and Mare, and things were not right for a very long time. Years later we got a call from a girl, and that girl turned out to be Mare’s daughter, my cousin. Somehow her discovery and appearance managed to bring people back together. At that point we realized Mare had a illness very similar to ALS, and the progression of her illness took a long and slow turn, where she lost all of her ability to function. But even until these last few weeks, she wanted to wear great perfume, put on a snazzy silver bangle, and read the headlines of PEOPLE magazine.

Because that was Mary, vintage Mare, and she wasn’t going to die if she didn’t look good, or smell good.

And I look around my house and see all the things that influenced me. Cool pieces of wrought iron hanging on a wall, lumber salvaged from someone’s trash to make a quirky sign. A pair of earrings that scream the 1950’s. Shoes that were found at TJ Maxx that say Prada. That was all her doing.

Meg stills practices that slouch from 1972 where she learned the correct way to hide illegal beverages in the Boston Garden lobby when she was 12, and Meg knows she wouldn’t have half the snazz appeal if weren’t for Mare.

So, here’s to you Mare. I toast you with a cold beer in a brown paper bag, and it never looked classier all because of you. Tonight you are a twinkle in the sky, or maybe a neon beer sign in the heavens, and I will never forget you.