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December 1, 1996 |

Dear Mr. Keillor: I caught your Guy's Shoes commercial on today's show, the one describing the Laser 2000 model. As an engineer, I feel compelled to respond to your making light at our expense.

We are a proud profession, and characterizations such as yours hurt us deeply. We are human beings, after all. If you cut us, do we not bleed? You bet we do, though we'd prefer that you take our word for it. We work hard trying to improve the human condition, and what we get in return is stereotyping that portrays us as, well, unattractive.

There are lots of us engineers, Mr. Keillor, and we could make big trouble for you legally, were any of us possessed of a desire to actually talk to a lawyer. But I see no need to go to extremes. Instead, why not send me some money? I will divide it up among the other engineers when we meet for our monthly lunch (first Wednesday, 11:45AM); this should satisfy even the grumpiest of us. I'm sure this happens all the time in show business, so just send the usual amount.

Yours truly,

Bob P.

P.S. We'd also accept points of the gross, if you have such a thing in public radio.

Bob, I regret that you bled over something you heard on our show concerning engineers, a group of folks whom I hold in high esteem indeed. Recently, I hired a consulting engineer to figure out whether the copper roof on a studio I was building might collapse under the weight of snow; I paid almost a thousand dollars for his advice, which was that the roof would not collapse, and so far it hasn't, which is money well spent in my book, so you see how I feel. The fact that the man wore half-rim glasses and Hush Puppies and an olive-green polyster suit and a drip-dry shirt with a plastic pocket protector is irrelevant: that is his right as an American.

As for paying reparations to people we've offended, I'm afraid that thousands of Norwegians are ahead of you in line, and when they get what's coming to them, there won't be anything left for you. But you save your receipt from the cafe, and the next time I see you, I'll reimburse you for a lunch.

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