How to Get Offended and Write a Passive-Aggressive Open Letter

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About 6 months ago I pierced my nose. This is relevant to my story, I swear. Anyhow, with a new hole punched in my face, I found myself noticing all the other people walking around with extra holes in their faces. SOLIDARITY. One of whom was the barista in my local coffee shop. She’s young, early 20’s, and super adorable. I complimented her when she too decided to punch a new hole in her face, and we began a regular jovial rapport.


Every time I would stop in for coffee, we would chat for a minute or two about some of our shared interests. Reading, thrifting, punching holes in our faces…etc. A few months after we began chatting, she gave me her phone number and said we should go thrifting sometime. I was incredibly honored, I mean, we knew each other on a base level, but she wanted a friendship. What a great compliment. I thanked her, took my coffee and went about my day.


So here’s the thing this barista doesn’t know. I have a young face, but I am a mom in my 30’s raising traumatized kids. Basically, my time for thrifting is limited. My time in general is limited. I mean…in this stage of life I consider peeing in silence to be “me time.” I’m juggling a million things. A marriage, children, a house full of people and pets who expect to be fed and bathed at regular intervals. It’s a lot right now. While I was flattered by her offer, I knew that in this season of life where I’m struggling to see the friends I already adore, it wasn’t a great time to start a new friendship. It’s not a fact that I relish, I wanted to know her better, but unfortunately, it just didn’t seem possible.


But I’m not going to throw my kids under the bus to a stranger. I’m not going to tell this woman,

“I would love to spend time with you, but my kids are working through PTSD right now, and I’m pretty much exhausted 24/7 and I don’t have the time right now. Let me get back with you in 3-4 years.”

My days are HARD. Like, really hard. As much as I would love to make a friend and shop, I just don’t have the “put on a happy face for a new friend” energy. In my free time I need to be with people I can be 100% honest with, people who can see and understand what I’m going through. Basically I need safe space to ugly cry, and be with people who know how to make me laugh.

So, long story short…I never called. Unfortunately, she noticed…and she was offended. Majorly offended. Deep, Inigo Montoya “You killed my father, prepare to die” levels of offended.

spilled ice coffee on Floor

It started slowly. She smiled and chatted with me less, still polite but curt. This week our previously chummy relationship dissolved, and she is now not speaking to me. At. All. The woman opened the window, took my money, handed me my coffee without so much as a “have a nice day.”

Over the past few months I have felt terribly about his devolution. I’m not typically a people-pleaser, but it’s no fun knowing that someone is mad at you and there is literally nothing you can do to make it right. But yesterday, as the window shut in my face without a word, I went from sympathetic to INDIGNANT.

Frankly, I was pissed.

I mean REALLY. Who does she think she is? She’s just going to be mad at basically a stranger, who didn’t meet her expectations? RIDICULOUS! How could she be this deeply offended by such an innocuous action?

As I pulled out of the parking lot, filled with righteous indignation, a car (seeming not to notice me at all) narrowly missed hitting me as it cut me off. I laid on my horn and grumbled to myself about what a jerk they were…

then I realized…I was picking up an offense of my own.

I ran back through the last week/month/year of my life. All the times (especially in traffic) I had decided that a person was rude, or inconsiderate or obnoxious without really seeing them or knowing what was going on in their lives.

Maybe that woman who cut me off was on the way to the hospital to see an ailing child. Maybe the man who jumped in front of me in the grocery line is dealing with a parent’s dementia or a crisis at work. Maybe that kid screaming in the grocery store is dealing with PTSD or the loss of a family. Maybe that teenager who talked to me like an idiot in the movie ticket line is struggling with depression. Or maybe they’re all jerks…but why is that for ME to decide?

I walk through this world in my own head. Living my life out in my thoughts. I build stories about the people who surround me. I make up their motives, I cast them the villain and myself as the victim. I take up wounds and offenses without a second thought. How dare you inconvenience me, or fail to meet my expectations!?! Never mind that you don’t live inside my head, and probably have no clue what I’m thinking because you’re too busy living in your head writing your own stories.

There have been a lot of defensive “open letters” making the rounds lately. Open letters seem to have over taken anonymous notes as the primary form of passive aggressive communication these days. People justifying themselves, or vilifying others, not seeing the irony of the judgments and assumptions they themselves are making.

There is space between victim and villain, a place called GRACE.

Grace Letterpress


Grace says, I don’t see the full picture. Grace says, maybe I don’t understand. Grace says, even if I’m completely right…I surrender my victimhood. Because carrying around those offenses is damaging to your soul. It’s a weight. Being angry at random strangers has, frankly, gotten too heavy. All that I have strength for these days is grace.

So with all of that in mind, I offer to the internet:

An Open Letter to the Barista Who Gave Me Her Number, Who I Never Called:

Hey girl! You make an awesome latte, and you are pretty much making my life possible by feeding my obvious caffeine addiction. Your coffee house is my safe space away from trauma and stress. It doesn’t hurt that your drinks are utterly delicious.

Thank you for the hard work you do, and for months of cheery conversation. They were a bright spot in a tough season. I know you have to deal with a lot of people during your day, and the fact that you wanted to build a friendship with me is incredibly flattering. You seem like such an interesting, cool person.

I’m sorry my lack of reciprocation was hurtful. Rejection is painful. I really do hope you don’t give up. I hope you keep putting yourself out there and meeting new people.


Your awkward customer