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missed and delayed letters

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mjuran's picture
missed and delayed letters

There were some recent posts about missing letters on JPay, pace of writing to inmates, wondering if fewer letters or less responsive letters indicate a lack of interest on the part of the inmate.  So I thought I'd share what just happened right now.  I have a pp that I'd noticed was writing less frequently lately.  Normally I'd hear from him once or twice a week on JPay and I'd write him back at the same pace, but lately his letter frequency had slowed and he'd skipped a week twice.  Also his letters began to have the strange quality of sounding less engaged, stepping back more, not less friendly but more light and chatty.  And not responding to things I'd said in previous letters, and not introducing new questions to me.  I'd just begun to notice this, and feel ever so slightly miffed at the idea he was losing interest, but I'd been telling myself he was likely distracted by a big upcoming visit he had with an old friend.  And I kept writing at my usual pace or maybe a little slower, just kind of stepping back, not less friendly but more light and chatty.  Sometimes I brought up something I'd said before if I was still looking for his response to it, but I didn't pester him with other questions because he hadn't answered my earlier ones yet.  And I waited.  Yes, you know what's coming.  I just heard from him now and he was a little sad sounding this time and he wanted to know if he'd said anything wrong in his last letter, because he wasn't hearing back from me as much lately, and he wondered if everything was alright.

So tonight I'm going to figure out which of my letters never reached him, and/or which of his didn't reach me.  Mystery solved.

I say this all to make a point, that it's common for letters on JPay to have long time lags and  even to just go missing without a trace.  And this being the case, it's doubly important to not jump to conclusions about what it means when you haven't heard back yet, or what you should do about it.  I'd say if everything else logically and gut-wise tells you there's no reason to be concerned, but it almost feels as though they haven't been listening to you lately or you haven't heard back's just really likely to be a JPay problem, not an interpersonal problem.  And keep throwing out letters even if you haven't heard from them in what seems like too long.  And ask them about it.  It's the first possibility to rule out, in my mind.

VioletGrey's picture

Plus one to everything you said Mjuran! +1 

I just wrote something similar on the other thread about this topic - and I'll copy it here too since it's relevant. (Sorry regulars readers :P ) 

Kirsten said something in one of the threads that I really liked, and I'll paraphrase cause I can't remember it exactly but it's sentiments were that we often write PP on here for pen pal, but that can also represent the two P's of pen palling - patience and perseverance. And these two things are so important to have in a pen pal relationship and I agree totally with Kirsten on that. Perseverance because to build a really rewarding pen pal relationship it's not going all happen right at the beginning, you need to be able to perservere through the awkward bits or the slow periods. You'll need to be understanding as many times they won't tell you at the time but maybe later down the track - "remember back in December, well my favourite Aunt died and I was having a rough time" or something to that effect, not always so tragic but similar sentiments. 
My advice on keeping conversations going is: try to trust your gut about whether it's genuine or not. Sometimes we get those feelings that somethings actually not right, and sometimes it's more your mind telling you they aren't meeting your expectations and you start to feel unhappy with the correspondence. Second bit would be to lower your expectations, because if they're high to start, whatever unfolds is going to be deemed "not enough". Third and more practical advice is ask broad questions that can't or shouldn't be answered with a sentence or two. Maybe include a bit about an article you read or something from the news and talk about it and ask what they think about it? Or ask them to tell you about their hometown, give you a virtual historical tour. Pick something they've said before or hinted at before and try to expand the conversation about it "you said something in your last letter about not liking living in Antartica because it was cold, what is it about the cold you don't like?" And expand from there. Or if you're not going to ask outright if they have any questions or would like to know anything about you, then just do it yourself. "You mentioned you liked cats in your last letter so I thought I would tell you about the time I went to the cat cafe they have here in my local town. There was this giant fluffy ginger Tomcat who greeting everyone who walked through the door...." 

Be patient that it's all not going to happen in a flurry at the beginning, and perservere if you're enjoying the general vibe between the two of you and the only thing seems to be a little "lack of" on their behalf. There are so many reasons other than just being disinterested in you and your penpalship that conversation can slow down. 

ST4s's picture

+2 to Mjuran's and Violet’s points (and Kirsten’s by proxy :-) And heads up that it ain’t just JPay clogging up the works…

Example: here I am in the U.S., writing to buds in the U.S., and you’d think the mail and the mail room at a facility would run sort of reasonably okay. HA!!! Think again!!! Ask me about a letter I sent in October of last year making its way back to me just last week, marked “return to sender”. My bud had transferred out in November and they didn’t deliver or forward the letter, obviously, which led to a whole lot of “Huh?” “What?” and so on.

Mail rooms can be ______________ (insert favorite swear word here) (mine in this example would rhyme with “other truckers”) (though why am I suddenly thinking about caffeinating next to a giant fluffy ginger tomcat???)