Letter issue is rude awakening

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Have you ever had a friendship taken advantage of? If not, let me tell you, it can be a painful thing.

Recently, someone dropped a letter off by the office with my name on it. The opening lines of the letter were addressed specifically to me, as a personal note, requesting me to run it as an open letter to the editor.

Knowing the party involved, I did.

Big mistake.

Lesson learned.

I should have known better.

Someone took advantage of a friendship and now, I'm mad.

I'm mad because I should have known better, but I'm even madder because someone actually thought they could get away with someone as serious as this.

In the past, I've had numerous people bring by letters to the editor. They have been authored by people I knew, and have always been legitimate letters. But, not this time.

This time was different. Someone slipped one by me, and now, not only have they hurt a sincere individual, they have hurt me, my career, my staff and my friendship with an individual. More than that, they have hurt this newspaper.

It's not easy getting over something like this.

As a person, I always want to take people at their best and overlook the worst. As a reporter, even more so as an editor, I should know better, be more cynical and take people for their worst, and let them gain my trust.

Maybe that's my biggest problem. Taking people for their best.

There was a time I believed I had become too jaded and cynical to believe in the good side of any person. My niece and nephew changed all that, but now I'm beginning to wonder if I've become too soft.

There is one thing for certain though, I will never let a mistake like this happen on my watch again. I've apologized profusely to the individual involved, and am beginning an investigation into what occurred to make sure it never does again.

There are a few things I am certain about though. The letter was typed on a computer and printed on a laser printer -- and not many people have access to a laser printer -- which prompts me to believe this was done at a place of employment.

The person who wrote the letter knew that I was young enough and sincere enough to believe this person wrote the letter, and that I would run it.

I can never, personally make up for what has happened. All I can do is offer my sincere apology and hope that I can salvage a friendship. In the process though, I may lose another one. But that's fine. If someone is cruel enough to pull a stunt like that, jeopardizing a friendship in the name of being vindictive, then so be it.