A Thank You Gift From Larry: A True Story of Honest Work, Grateful Emails, and Tea

In the festive month of December, when holiday cheer filled the air, the high school office workers chatted happily and spoke of their plans for the coming break: a flight to Chicago, another to California, still another to Oregon.

But one worker, the quiet one in the corner, what plans did she tell? Nary a one, for she was on the phone.

It was a parent, a father, seeking information on a program Quiet One knew little about.

Did that stop her from helping? Of course not. Transferring the call would return her to office chatter.

Quiet One listened. He was out of the country, he said. Frustrated, lost, bereft. No communication given. Could she help?

She made notes, spoke with student’s counselor.

What’s this? Father’s name is not in database? He is not an approved contact? Calls are made, mother is reached.

But he’s in London, mother said. Why list him?

If his name is not listed, they told her, we cannot talk to him. He remains frustrated, lost, bereft. No communication given.

His name is added.

Father is called. Quiet one explains, he is grateful. He tells her what he seeks, she sends it.

He has a hotmail account.

She tries not to judge.

Me, email 1He is appreciative.

first thank youA week goes by, it is the day before winter break. Cookies in the break room, someone says.



Quiet One opens her email.

emailShe frowns. Help a person once, help them always. That’s how it goes.

Quiet One contemplates. Respond thoroughly, she decides. Consider every angle. Anticipate every problem.

FinalHe sends his gratitude.

heart attackQuiet one is pleased. She has done well. Her work is now complete.

Another email arrives.From him , email 4Not necessary, she tells him. Just doing her job.

He insists.From him, email 5He must be joking, she thinks. He’s in London. What can he do?

She plays along. Response, email 5Quiet One turns off computer. Coworkers leave. Good wishes for a nice winter break.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Two weeks pass. The workers return. The mail is sorted. Quiet One received a card.

A card from Larry.

She opens the envelope. Tea bags fall to the desk.

TeaHer first cup of the day, Countess Grey from Fortnum & Mason.

A twist on the traditional bergamot-infused blend, Countess Grey is based on well-twisted orange pekoe teas, lifted by classic bergamot and a light orange flavour. Its light and delicate character makes it ideal for morning or afternoon drinking, when the spirits require a little reviving.

Quiet One is revived. She emails her thanks to Larry.

He responds.Final emailTo a man in London, she is his dearest.

A job well done.

Happy New Year. ☕️

25 thoughts on “A Thank You Gift From Larry: A True Story of Honest Work, Grateful Emails, and Tea

  1. From now on, you will be known only by the code name, Quiet One in charge of tea and teller of tales… a lovely Christmas story and me thinks a good time to tell stories is after Christmas so we remember what all the fuss was about.

  2. Fortnum & Mason — if I’m not mistaken they are “by appointment” suppliers to those crazy kids at Kensington Palace. Quiet One did make an impression. Enjoy the tea Quiet One ’cause you could have said “Sorry, can’t help ya.”

  3. We used to call F&M ‘The Piccadilly Grocer’ and Harrodf ‘The Knightsbridge Corner Store’. It was irony. They are both extremely fine places and you made a fine impression on Larry and here’s the thing …. you did it out of kindness, sympathy, professionalism and a sense that cutting a parent out of the loop on account of location is simply not right. Un judging is what you were. What you are is a wonderful writer that just snares me and pulls me in every single time.

    1. Well, to be completely honest, I did it more out of boredom and a desire to escape my coworkers’ convo, but thank you for putting such a fine spin on it. You can be my PR person anytime. 😉

      My tea knowledge is mediocre at best. I know what I like and experiment with new varieties only when Jupiter, Venus and Mars are in perfect alignment. But even I could tell this was special tea, I just didn’t know the pedigree.
      (And that is my rhyme for the day.)

  4. What a lovely post and the tea–oh the tea looks and sounds amazing. I am sure you are enjoying every little sip. Going the extra mile is sometimes what we need to do even if it means a bit more work, right? Good on you!

    1. Thanks Beth!
      The tea was splendid! One of them was flavored with Passion Fruit and I’m cold-brewing it now to enjoy with my lunch. I had it hot yesterday and it was quite good, but I knew it would be marvelous iced.

  5. Everyone here but me has flu, so I’m on standby, ready to spring to action if anyone needs me. Initially I thought, “Catching up on my reading today is certain to be an exercise in futility.” Ah, but as usual you changed my outlook and my attitude with this delightful story, Christi. I entirely agree with Dee, this sounds like the beginning to a series to me too. ❤

  6. Lovely tale, indeed. As others have already mentioned, this could be the opening of a chastely-ribald romance novel or a Hallmark movie starring someone that is decidedly not Tori Spelling. But could it be a Past Imperfect? We must tinker and learn the truth… 😉

    1. Ooooh — think of the twist the story might take depending on who we cast! James Mason for a classy yet slightly sinister spin; John Cleese for a goofy comedy; Tom Hiddleston for a… well, do we need a reason to cast Tom Hiddleston? It’s Tom Hiddleston! 😉

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