(The following post contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.)
Since 1986, I’ve harbored a secret resentment against Hallmark Cards. In that year, in my 20s, I though it was a slam dunk to apply for a job opening at the company that I saw advertised and was all psyched to move from New England to their Kansas City, Missouri, headquarters.
Growing up pre-internet days, while some kids played baseball, bowled and participated in other leisure activities, I bicycled to the drugstore downtown and browsed through greeting cards that I later personalized, writing about my life’s rather mundane updates. Just like an evening ritual glass of milk before bed, I had my trip to the mailbox at the end of the street where I would deposit a handful of Hallmark Cards addressed to friends and family.
Understandably, I had one hundred percent, unshakable faith that I would land the Hallmark Card writing job. Plus, I possessed the required education and background and enough creativity to grow old with the company. For a solid week after my day job, skipping dinner, I typed my application into the late-night hours, which included brainstorming and writing a variety of sample greeting card sentiments. Upon completion, I packaged the bundle and mailed the application. Afterwards, I even mentioned to a number of people my impending Kansas City move. I spent weeks elevated behind my rose-colored glasses, visualizing a future made for a sappy greeting card.
I’m going to Kansas City
Kansas City, here I come
I’m going to Kansas City
Kansas City, here I come.
That was my theme song that I sang to myself as the days rolled into weeks. By week six, I received a form rejection letter from the company that floored me. Like all form rejection letters, it basically said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
After receiving the bad news, I felt utterly dejected for weeks. My dreams of becoming a greeting card writer were strip cut and made undistinguishable as if they were forced through a paper shredder. Deep inside, decades later, I still feel a tad resentful over the missed opportunity that when I least expect it, kicks in the “What if’s.”
My failed career experience, however, did not stop me from being a loyal Hallmark customer. I still purchase Hallmark cards along, of course, with other brands, to send to family and friends. Though I’ve cut the volume down immensely, thanks to the internet, sending a few cards for special and “Just Because” occasions is still like a secret mission of mine that I like to keep up on.
Needless to say, I am part of the Hallmark Gold Crown rewards program, which means I receive monthly promotional coupons.
Here’s the dicey part. After our family tragedy, I felt like an out-of-control mechanical bull was bucking and spinning in my belly when I realized that every Hallmark Card coupon code started with four letters: “SUIC.”
Granted, to 99.9% of the population, those letters are an innocuous, random combination. To “survivors” such as myself, the manual control joystick on that mechanical rodeo bull in my belly malfunctions, gets stuck in “10,” the highest speed, and cannot be disabled.
Each and every time I wanted to reach out to the company, but between my PTSD and my age, I don’t stray too far from my safe bubble. So, month after month, I “let it go” and turned a blind eye to the coupon code.
Recently, I opened my Hallmark Gold Crown rewards email, and the bull straddled my belly, kicked and spun so hard that, without a second thought, I immediately sent Hallmark customer service a note. Part of it stated: “….As a loyal customer, every time I receive a Hallmark Gold Crown rewards certificate, I am distressed to see the following promo code at the beginning of all promo codes: ‘SUIC.'”
To me, I always fill in the rest of the blanks SUICide. Aren’t there any other letters you can start your promo codes with? Is it in anyway possible to change this letter combination considering the sensitive nature of suicide loss survivors?”
I hit the “Submit” button and didn’t expect much. This time, 24 hours later, Hallmark sent me much more than I expected. It might have been partially a form letter, but not completely.
“We are deeply sorry to know about your loss and appreciate the time you have taken to let us know your thoughts about the initial name of the promo codes. We understand your concern because we strive for great customer service. We hope you will accept our apologies for this inconvenience. As with all of our incidents, this will be sent up to our feedback department so it can be reviewed by them in their next discussion and take into consideration. We can assure you that your feedback will be heard, but we can not guarantee a change will occur.”
Rose-colored glasses removed, cynical me, I figured, “I’ll never hear from them again.” Surprise! Surprise!
So a few hours after the letter, I receive a new coupon in the mail:
2021 August | EXPIRES: 10/31/2021
Use this PROMO CODE online: SUIA459890056
Notice the SUIA instead of SUIC
I don’t know if this is a result of my feedback, but, man, that helps gives me faith. Perhaps, during one of those rare moments in my life, I’ve been heard and influenced a tiny smidgen of life. My long-ago resentment is wiped clean, the mechanical rodeo bull disabled, and I’m taking my newest coupon to the Hallmark store to stock up. I’m fired up to restart my spreading-good-cheer mission initiative. Who knows, maybe while on a high note, writing notes, I’ll revisit my resume, research what greeting card writer opportunities are out there these days.
So much for helping me keep the faith. I received a new code coupon with the SUIC code again. Bummer. I think I’ll write an old-fashioned letter to the corporate office. 😞 (I will keep my blogging community updated!)
I was so happy to see that minor change 😦 but still I am hopeful.
A letter to the CEO should help. I like that you are speaking up.
Sending you hugs! Blessings! ♥♥
Aww! Thanks for the support and encouragement. Updates to follow! Hugs back! 🤍
Although the latest code is back to what you don’t want … I’m still surprised that they’ve changed it after your request. Like you’ve said, someone was listening (which is definitely worth another try) 💌.
It sucks for sure 😢🤗
Stacy, thank you for sharing this. You are such a gifted writer ~and I love how your authenticity oozes through it. Hallmark lost! What a win they’d have with you. I’ve been a fan of their cards for years. At one time I thought it would be neat to write greeting cards. I’m in SW MO near Branson. I’m glad you received a thoughtful and professional response. And ONE change. Perhaps, I pray, the change will occur again and the message spread further to the right people at the right time. Hugs to you my friend. ❤️💚💛🤗
Aww. Thanks for the support and encouragement. I appreciate it! Hugs back 🤍
❤️ you’re so welcome. It’s good to be here and “see” you again.
This is great story Stacy. I’m reminded of just how right on the surface triggers, often unintentionally given, can be. For me it’s the uncanny familiarity of seemingly endless reenactments that can create the churn. All those pass you by or throw away comments and words that just don’t stick to you but pick at you. pick you a part if left to do so. Doing something is crucial. It’s not that people don’t care it is that they just don’t know. How could they and why should they. Unless , of course, there’s merit in their doing so. And in my view somewhere someone will know too. This said I find that many if not all of us share this depth of feeling and shrug it off as just one of those things that one has to put up with. This isn’t my way though and I take great joy in reading of your victory in at least one instance. It is the very courage that is needed to bring about change. I think I’ve mentioned before that my dad, now passed, was a survivor of horrific and systematic abuse at hands of the Irish Christian Brothers. What amazed me was even in the event of meeting and challenging his own abusers, by proxy in me, he raised the abuse of others at the hands of the Sisters of Mercy in the Magdalena Laundries. It took decades, like 50 years, for this story to break. Knowing that you cared enough to care matters and to do this in real time pretty powerful too. Do it Stacy, write to the CEO. For what’s worth an old associate of mine studied 780 organisations to look at their critical success factors, their dna as it were, and concluded that the single biggest feature all had in common was the avoidance of truth… reputation management at public cost and some efficiency gain… my guess would be that the letters are the abbreviation of some costing descriptor that’s tied into a common vocabulary for accounting and computing. The same happens in public procurement where services to old people described them as, ‘lots’…this being a formal legal procedural requirement but wholly inappropriate… it opened up the difficult discussion of whether or not the entire process was, actually, fit for purpose… it wasn’t. Small wins are wins.
Thanks so much as always, Alec. You raise some interesting points – as always. It is so interesting, for instance, the point you make about the avoidance of truth. Radical honesty is a trend these days among millennials, but has been a way of life for me, a “learned behavior,” for nearly 37 years. This said, I am fortunate to live in this transparent way, but due to my current circumstances, I have to be careful and work diligently to shield myself when necessary to preserve my wellbeing. In other words, I have to be careful to not be “picked apart” as you say. Anyway, I will write to the CEO, and I thank you again for your insights, wisdom and inspiration. PS: At some point, I will also have to learn more about the Sister of Mercy in the Magdalena Laundries as long as it isn’t too brutal. Years ago, I watched the film Philomena about the nuns in Ireland who sold babies with the mother’s consent. I’m still recuperating from the entire ordeal!
when you take breath and want to look at the Irish abuse of children, which was systematic, try Suffer the Little Children by Mary Rafferty her work was pivotal in setting the tone and scope of the Inquiry. I think I’ve mentioned it before and elsewhere the political landscape played a huge part in outing the Christian Brothers and later the Sister’s of Mercy ie SinnFein actually take their seats in the EU Parliament, Southern Ireland has the best roads in Europe, their corporation tax levels one of the lowest in the world etc etc. So not unlike your gain with Hallmark the win is a concession. you For more on the findings fro the the study check out Gary Neilson et al CSF in Orgs, (my abv) cira July 2008 and Art Kleiner, Ed of Business-Strategy and former CEO of PwC… Art is really approachable and its his 2007 webinar that tackles the avoidance of truth issues. The issues then became framed by Gene Bellinger as Systems Dynamics as a spin off from the work of Peter Senge in the Fifth Discipline – its really all about what trade agreements and how to standardise vocabulary and protocol for boundary less exchange of goods and services… hence the avoidance of truth. I had forgotten, well thought I had, its some layer cake Stacy and NOT tobe eaten if offered. The deliberate use of confusion and obfuscation, to undermine and control, is the oldest trick in the book be careful….
Agreed, Alec. Political landscape is paramount. This is why delving deeper, researching, going outside the norm is so important – speaking up is a whole other matter and the “hallmark” of courage! In fact, you are not only brilliant, but courageous too, my friend. I will add all your information to my research list. It’s funny, though, because I have a very special connection that goes back to my friend’s mom from Kipperary. In fact, when she arrived here in America, she was a nanny in Greenwich, CT, one of the most affluent towns in our state. I must say, she was the sweetest, most nurturing woman and one of the greatest storytellers I’ve ever met. She had a sorrowful life in Ireland, but acted like she came from the best life you could ever live and occasionally broke into a spontaneous jig! She also wore over-sized hats. Anyway, she was instrumental in teaching me about unconditional love and excelling, which meant being genuine and the person you were meant to be. Actually, one day I will write about her in a blog post!
Stacy, SUIC is certainly a trigger for survivors like us . I admire your perseverance& positive attitude towards life. I hope Hallmark promotion is changed to SUIA permanently. It is a lot of administrative work as it is a giant popular brand across the world. You represent so many of us who suffered the same fate. Thank you for being in my life with healing posts.
Thank you, Prema. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if I am “too sensitive” or taking things “too personally.” You reaffirm what needs to be done not just for me, but for “us”! Thank you!
I’m sorry Stacey you didn’t get the Hallmark job all those years ago – their loss. You certainly are an amazing writer and I like to wonder where your writing will go.
Good for you for expressing your feelings about that code. It reminds me also about junk mail I occasionally receive for my deceased son. It’s been decades, but those advertisers continue to follow his imaginary life. It hurts, but even sending stuff back didn’t stop it from coming. Still, I felt better doing that – I really understand!
Thanks SO MUCH, Judy and, yes, junk mail is a good point. Same on this end! Fortunately, I send the junk back with a few graphic details and, so far, my requests to have my son’s name removed from these mailings have worked. Who would ever imagine living a life life this??? I though good thoughts of you TODAY and I am glad I have you in my corner.
Stacy. You are too authentic for Hallmark cards. Wtfaith is your natural territory ❤️
Thank you, Anand. You are too kind! (I hope so though!) 🤍
First of all, I love the intro. Those types of disappointments feel like a sucker punch, but I always assume they are for the best. Even though the let down is the worst.
I am so glad you got results. Kudos to you. Kudos to Hallmark.
Aw man. For a second, I thought you’d impacted change in the world! Turns out, they just changed it for you? That’s a bit odd, though. Even if it’s so, I suppose that’s one considerate act.
I just don’t know! But I tried … and will continue trying. 🤍
Oh rats! They didn’t change the coupon code after all.