Every year, as Catholic school students, we were sent out into the neighborhood on fundraising expeditions, wearing our uniforms and carrying cardboard suitcases filled with overpriced chocolate bars. It was my first sales job, and I was terrible at it. I’m pretty sure my Aunt Josephine bought the entire box every time, not because the candy was so great, but because I was her brother’s son and she didn’t want to see me wandering down the road to failure, ending up in prison, or worse, working at the post office.
If, as a child, I had any skill at selling, it involved nothing more than getting a kind relative to feel sorry for me. And now, even that questionable talent has vanished, converted somewhere along the way into an unnatural sense of empathy for the customers’ troubles. I doubt I’d last more than a day even as a toll collector, especially after the Department of Transportation found out I’d given the money back to every driver who complained about the recent rate hikes.
And so, it is with great trepidation that I tell you about a line of greeting cards I’ve created. Writing and designing the cards was much like playing, and I grew more confident with each one. But now, as I begin the transfer over to the marketing division, I return once again to the familiar state of doubt that comes with taking on a job that makes me uncomfortable.
I simply don’t like selling my own products. The best I can do is alert you to their existence, and hope you like some of them.
But a little preliminary explanation might be helpful.
These aren’t the cards you’d expect to find in a store or online. Those tend to be focused on specific and special events that take place throughout the year: birthdays and graduations, weddings and anniversaries, new babies and regular holidays. For the most part, my cards are glimpses into daily life – the things that happen in between those special events. They’re about relationships, and the small turning points that mark our struggles with them.
If I really had to pin it down, I’d say these cards reflect the importance of communication, and the results that occur when, all too frequently, that communication falls apart.
The cards also don’t open like typical greeting cards. Rather, they come in a sleeve with a window cut-out that shows the beginning of a message. You slide the card down to reveal the rest of the message, along with a cartoon. Each is printed on heavy card stock, and the sleeves can be ordered in seven different colors. Card number 76 is shown here.
All of the cartoons were originally drawn by Ron Leishman, the same artist who does most of the illustrations you see on this blog. I’ve modified many of the drawings in some way, but Ron’s original brilliance is always evident.
The collection includes one hundred cards, and you can find all of them displayed on my newly-revised website, along with the books I’ve self-published.
Please take a look when you have some time. And if you’re moved enough to post this information on your blog — or on Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social media that seem to leave me feeling as lost and confused as that eight-year-old boy carrying a cardboard suitcase – I’d be grateful. Or if you want to mention it to a few friends who might be interested, I’d appreciate that just as much.
If only my Aunt Josephine were still around, I probably wouldn’t have to bother you with this.