taking a break from the Mexico adventures, here’s a letter i sent to The North Face today, along with one of my favorite items of clothing:

Dear Esteemed North Face Warranty Employee:

The following story is true. If you don’t have a love of non-fiction, please pass this epic tale onto a coworker, or someone else who might enjoy such a short, but exciting read. However, don’t overlook the fact that destiny has placed this manuscript into your hands for a reason.

My Super Rad North Face Jacket and Its Untimely Demise by Sharon Farmer

Back in the 80’s, my dad, an avid outdoorsman who liked to take his family camping, purchased a super rad pullover shell from The North Face. It was sky blue, fit perfectly, and was made of a somewhat new (at the time) magical material called “Gore Tex.” He didn’t know this at the time, but that jacket would keep him warm, dry, and happy.

Until his daughter grew up. That’s where the trouble would begin.

His youngest daughter was also fond of the outdoors (growing up in Colorado, one has to be.) She liked to camp, and ski, and often stand in front of her house just for the sake of being outdoors. She recalled this super rad pullover jacket that her dad used to wear, and she called him.

“Hey, Dad. Do you remember that incredibly awesome blue North Face shell that you have? The pullover one?”

“Yup. I still have it.”

“Can I have it?”

“No. I’ve had that jacket forever. Why do you want it anyway?”

“Because, Dad! I super love it, and will wear it way more than you will. Plus, I’m super poor, and you can go buy yourself a new one if you want. In fact I think you should. Just give that one to me and get a brand new one!”

“I don’t want a brand new one, Sharon. I like that one.”

“But Dad, it’s a PULLOVER. They don’t make them like that anymore, I checked. Please, dude? I never ask you for anything. Well, I RARELY ask you for anything.”

The back and forth, dad and daughter arguing went on for a few years to the same result. The stubborn father would not relent, and kept the jacket to his selfish self, super selfish father that he was.

She didn’t know it at the time, but the nagging would slowly wear him down, and he would eventually give up, as he had like, a crapload of other North Face jackets and other outdoorsy stuff, because he spends way too much time at REI.

She asked him again, as she periodically did, despite her feeling that she would never win (she had moved to Vail, and although she was fairly equipped for mountain weather, still was in need of outerwear suitable for the rain.) This time, he gave in to her wishes, though not very agreeably. And she drove 2 hours home to get the coveted blue jacket. And her mom made her lunch.

Years later, she had moved to San Diego and took the jacket with her. They say it never rains in Southern California, but it does. It SOO does. Matter of fact, it’s raining in San Diego as this story is being typed.

She put the jacket on a week ago and noticed that the taping on the inner hood was coming undone. In a panic, she called her friendly neighborhood REI store to ask what they would use to retape the lining. They directed her to North Face’s customer service center.

She called North Face’s customer service number and spoke to a shy, but friendly man who told her to send the jacket in to their warranty address and perhaps they could retape it or send her something comparable (even though it was a PULLOVER, and they don’t make them like that anymore. Maybe I already said that. Damn shame, though. Pullovers are awesome.) She explained that it was close to, if not more than, 20 years old, so although they say there’s a lifetime warranty (she is totally aware that it’s not the buyer’s lifetime, but the standard lifetime for a super rad pullover) that she was concerned about how it would be receieved. He tried to console her and convinced her to send it anyway.

So she got it ready to send, and figured she wouldn’t want to send it dirty, since that was no way for a package to be opened, with unclean contents. SHE wouldn’t want to receive a dirty jacket from anyone. Or dirty any-clothes for that matter. So she figured she would wash it first, and then send it, as that was a way more polite thing to do.

She checked the washer after a regular wash cycle, and was shocked (and a bit devastated) when she opened the lid. Two questions rushed to her mind:

“How the hell did a cougar get into my laundry room, and why would he do this to my favorite jacket??”

Her questions would go unanswered as she stood there surveying the one piece of clothing she had fought half a lifetime to obtain. And with a sad farewell, she packaged the jacket up to send it anyway, knowing she would probably never see it again. Moreover, she expected that upon receipt of the jacket, the recipient might laugh at her, or worse, pity her misfortune. But maybe, she thought, that same someone might be awed that a super rad jacket like this still existed, and love the sight of seeing it and its cool, vintage Gore Tex tag in the hood. Or that same someone might send her another one sort of like it, as she still buys North Face gear despite the fact that she’ll still pretty poor years later. She certainly wouldn’t refuse a new jacket, she thought. Nor would she refuse a short note from the recipient of the package, even if it was only to tell her that she would never make money as a writer, nor do they think she should get a new jacket because she doesn’t deserve one. Or because lifetime warranty doesn’t cover a wild cougar/laundry room situation, and she might have more luck nagging her dad for another one, which he might only give her after another 10 years of asking.

The End*

*This story is entirely true, as the writer of the story is also the lead character, and is also ME, who is writing this side note. I can vouch for every one of the events above, except maybe for the cougar part. I didn’t see any evidence of a cougar, in particular, aside from just general speculation. In fact, I’m not even sure that cougars are native to Southern California. Despite my lack of evidence, I have labeled the contents of the inside of my jacket as “Cougar Evidence A.”

Most Sincerely Yours,

Sharon Farmer