Saturday morning. I slept in, soaking up the little taste of luxury… and then got out of bed for my meditations.
Something felt off.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on it… until I got online, checked my bank balance…
… and saw something that made my stomach turn into an aching stone
A charge in my business account – probably some minor monthly payment – had overdrawn my balance.
So my bank sucker-punched me with overdraft fees.
… four of them. In one day.
At $32.50 each…
… dragging my account almost two hundred dollars in the negative.
“Okay…” I whispered to myself, “Okay just call them up.”
I dialed my bank and explained to the person on the line that, yes, I understood the first overdraft fee. After all, it was my fault that the account got overdrawn.
But four in a single day? Ridiculous.
“Yes, sir, we understand and it’s our policy… ” yada yada yada, they said they’d see what they could do.
After a brief period on hold, the bank told me they’d remove one of the overdraft charges.
As a courtesy.
The other three would remain. My account will still be well over a hundred dollars in the negative.
My breathing grew quicker. I asked to speak to a manager.
Someone else came on the line. I began talking calmly enough…
… but when I began describing how I was living week-to-week… and how they took the money I needed for food and rent… my reasoning dissolving into rambling.
“Oh, it sounds like you’re experiencing some hard times… ” the man said with a bit of sympathy…
… but he affirmed there was nothing he could do.
“Okay th-th-thank you,” I said as I hung up and burst into tears.
I buried my head into my hands and wept.
So much struggling for every penny, and now this? How the hell could I climb out of this hole?
For the next minute, I cried.
Then something snapped inside
My breathing deepened. And I decided what to do.
For the past few weeks, I’d been planning to send a letter to the man who’d been helping with my direct mail campaigns – Doberman Dan. I wanted to propose a deal with him:
I knew he was doing contract work for clients, writing advertisements and building marketing campaigns. To free up his time, he could sub-contract to me. I’d happily take a percentage of whatever he was charging his clients, and do good work. It was win-win.
Of course, to get the idea in his hands, and for him to take it seriously, I knew some random email wasn’t going to do. Instead, I’d print out and send him a real letter. But with a twist.
Many moons earlier, Doberman Dan expounded on the genius of something called the “Dollar Bill Letter.” It’s a letter with a real dollar bill taped to the top of it. When someone opens the letter and sees the billfold, it’s virtually impossible not to be enthralled. After all, who the heck sends real money in the mail and tapes it to the top of their message?
I planned to take it a step further
I knew Doberman Dan was passionate about precious metals. And, before the gold-buying store closed, I made sure to purchase a few silver dimes.
Although I’d written the letter, I hadn’t gotten around to mailing it…
… until that day.
Sitting at my desk, I wiped away my tears, and a newfound surge of energy pulsed through me.
I stood up and drove to the nearest Fedex Office, feeling propelled forward in a state of calm bliss. A smile spread across my face.
At Fedex, I printed the letter, taped the silver dime to the top, and mailed it.
I put the wheels in motion
Then I visited my bank to deposit some cash… before they hit me with more overdraft fees! For the heck of it, I spoke to the manager there, to see if anything would be different. Nope, it was the same story – except I didn’t cry.
Six days of back-breaking work followed…
… until… one morning… my phone rang. I almost didn’t answer… but it turned out to be Doberman Dan!
He loved the letter – it had gotten his attention just as I planned.
He didn’t have any immediate work for me. Still, Dan said he’d keep me in mind, and promised to refer me to some companies that needed the kind of marketing I could provide. Sweet!
It turned out, I wouldn’t have to wait that long. Just a few days later, he referred a potential client to me. The two of us settled on a day and time to do an introductory phone call.
I realized I had to sell this guy on my services
He was a complete stranger. And in the space of one phone call, I had to convince him to give me some money. Possibly a large amount.
How the heck was I going to do that?
Fortunately, I had an idea…
[Funny note: As I was editing this chapter in a coffee shop, I turned my head and saw the woman next to me writing out a bunch of hand-written letters, and preparing them for mailing. We got into a fun discussion on how important a real letter can be for showing gratitude. Or opening doors.]