The other day I received, in the mail, in a real envelope with a real stamp and all, a card from my Toyota dealer, reminding me that my Prius needed to be serviced.
Here’s what it said:
I was irrationally tickled by this poem, but it’s fairly clear that the folks at Toyota did not hire a writer to compose it. So, here’s what I imagine happened: Some Toyota executive is sitting at her desk one Friday afternoon, staring at a spreadsheet. Oh no. Another recall. Water pump problems. When will it end? (Existentialist doubt peeks around the corner.) How did I end up here? What does life mean? What happened to my youthful passion to be . . . A POET! The executive, mindful of the proper tools of poetry, pushes aside her screen and finds a piece of paper and a pencil. I can just imagine the pleasure she felt when she found a rhyme for Toyota, the delight of “stop on by” which not only makes the rhythm work but has a lovely banjo-ey, folksy feel. What I imagine is that this executive got a kick out of composing this poem, pleasure that transferred itself to me, the reader.
When you are a writer by trade it is easy to forget the pleasure principle. Think of all the ways, as writers and readers, we get pleasure from the written word. The note on the fridge, tweets and twitters, the various things we can add on the bottom of a birthday card, the quirky email, the to-do list, the memo, the grocery list (see Milk, Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost and Found by Bill Keaggy) the letter of complaint even. This pleasure is different in scope from work on a novel, but not in kind. Don’t forget to have fun. From this conviction I won’t waver one iota.