In one of Matt's earlier podcasts, in talking about who, or how many people, might be listening to his podcast, he noted that there was "one guy from Kazakhstan" that had accessed the podcast. Said listener was referenced on and off in subsequent podcasts, including the podcast I was just in.
In a moment of wickedness, I thought it would be funny to send a "fan letter" to Matt, and make it look like it had come from that listener in Kazakhstan.
- Leigh (work colleague and mutual friend of mine and Matt)
- The postal clerk
- Tracy (Matt's wife)
- Matt (the stooge)
- I Googled "most popular names in Kazakhstan," from which list I selected two names to make up the first and last name of the person the letter would come from.
- I used Google maps to get a real street name in Kazakhstan, which I used in the return address after Googling the proper format for Kazakhstan addresses.
- I wrote a letter to Matt using what I (probably stereotypically) imagined was a "Kazakhstan voice," and then chose a font to simulate a hand-written look.
- I let my friend and colleague, Leigh, who is also an editor like Matt and myself, read the letter and she pointed out that although I did a decent job with the broken English, all of my punctuation was impeccable. Of course it was. So, I went through and removed all of the commas and apostrophes. Thanks, Leigh!
- I Googled "Kazakhstan stamps" and printed two of them to use on the envelope.
- I went to the post office, where I interacted with a decidedly un-fun clerk. I wanted her to let me pay for a U.S. stamp and have her just stamp the envelope (I think it's called "metering" it), so I wouldn't have to add a real U.S. stamp to the envelope. I showed her the contents of the envelope—consisting only of the letter with a gift card attached—to assure her that I was sincere when I said I wanted to make this look as much like it came from Kazakhstan, but without doing anything illegal. She made me put a U.S. stamp on it.
- I contacted Tracy to let her in on the joke, and to ask her, if it wouldn't be an inconvenience, to try and intercept the mail and remove the U.S. stamp from the envelope if it would peel off easily. And I told her that Leigh had mentioned that she'd love for her to videotape the event if at all possible.
Here is what the envelope looked like after it arrived and Tracy was able to remove the U.S. stamp:
Tracy was generous enough to film the event. You can watch the 3.5-minute video. The password is "uptop."
And thanks for being such a good sport, Matt. Personally, I hate practical jokes, and it was a stretch for me to play one. The fact that it was for a good cause helped me get through it. :-)