All the news that’s fit to steal

September 12th, 2010 · 82 comments

“New York Times reader” didn’t become a right-wing synonym for “elitist” out of nowhere. As the newspaper itself proclaims, “Times readers are a well-educated group. They expect sophisticated coverage and literate prose.”

But how does that literate sophistication hold up when the Gray Lady goes a-missin’? Well, if “self-aggrandizing smugness” counts as sophistication and “almost free of basic spelling and grammar errors” counts as “literate”  — remarkably well, actually!  (That whole “i before e” thing is pretty tricky, after all.)

Exhibit a) From Alan in Washington, DC:

NOTICE TO WELL-READ 1809 THEIF [sic]  I would be grateful if you cease snatching my copy of the New York Times. If not, I shall have to cancel my subscription, which will deny us both the application. -JSS

Exhibit b) From an anonymous submitter in Lawrence, Kansas:

To the scumbag who keeps taking my New York Times as their own, I'm not impressed. you obviously are somewhat intelligent if you are inclined to read such a quality publication, but guess what dumbass,stealing is still wrong. I've paid for it and I'd like to read it. Kindly leave it here next time.

Exhibit c) From Elizabeth in Queens:

will the person who keeps stealing my times, please stop...we're neighbors here and i shouldn't have to worry about a theif [sic] in my home. if money is that tight buy the post. -stew

Unimpressed? Well, for the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at some notes by readers of less “sophisticated” newspapers. Like, say, the Washington Post:

ATTENTION SECOND FLOOR: NEWSPAPER THIEF ON THE LOOSE!!! I am so sick of my goddamn newspaper getting stolen every FUCKING day. I'm hiring Angela Lansbury to find out who you are, and I swear to God, she'll go BATSHIT CRAZY on your ass. I've caught a newspaper thief once, and I'll do it again. EAT SHIT YOU STUPID BITCH!

Adds Robin in DC: “This person has also posted several other notes making various threats, including a promise to fill their paper with feces and glitter.”

As much as I appreciate that imagery, it’s actually New York’s other status-symbol-paper that inspires my favorite note of this genre — primarily because it so perfectly captures the essence of the Patrick Bateman/Gordon Gekko-worshipping tool I imagine the writer to be.

Hey!! I've ordered the Wall Street Journal to be delivered here. Please stop taking it, or I'll break your fuckin' arms! Love, Harrison

Our submitter, meanwhile, found the note more puzzling than anything else. Writes Danielle: “What kind of boring person steals the Wall Street Journal?”

And that, dear readers, is a question for another day.

related: Free markets, free people, free papers

extra credit: Dear Neighbors, Read This Note! [nytimes.com]

FILED UNDER: CAPS LOCK · die bitch die · i before e · most popular notes of 2010 · neighbors · newspaper · not-so-veiled threats · signed with love · stealing


82 responses so far ↓

  • #1   sb

    is it irresponsible to point out that the two new york times readers can’t spell “thief” but the washington post reader can?

    Sep 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm   rating: 41  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   law

      Why would that be irresponsible…?
      I think “obnoxious” is the word you’re looking for and the answer is no, it wouldn’t be.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.2   BrookeDiz bang

      Not if one uses the occasional capital letter.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm   rating: 22  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.3   Woman on the Verge bang

      I believe the rule is “i before e except after vodka”. Oh, wait. That’s just for me.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm   rating: 46  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.4   Mo®

      I before E except after C and with gin and juice.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:32 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.5   MAMARILLA2 bang

      What is wrong, mi amore, do you not like the Tequila anymore? Ay and si, no eeee.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:00 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.6   The voice of... James Mason

      i before e, except after vodka…!!! Love it!!! :-D i think i’m going to have to steal that… does that make me a “theif”…?

      Sep 13, 2010 at 10:57 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.7   Woman on the Verge bang

      Watch it, voice. No stealing. I made that shit up and it’s mine. Thief. ;)

      Sep 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.8   bored @ work

      To the thief who is stealing Verge’s quotes… Angela Lansbury is busy but I did get through to Matlock and he is going to break both your f—ing arms!

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.9   MAMARILLA2 bang

      My MrRilla always said it was E before F . Perhaps I am thinking of the wrong thing…

      Sep 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.10   park rose

      It’s f before oops or ohhh or argghhh if we’re talking about labours of love.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 2:04 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #1.11   Xaveir

      Tonight, I abandoned sobreity and appleid the ‘i before e except after vodka’ theory. I began yeilding results after my twenteith drink and can’t beleive I expereinced such deficeint capabiliteis. Urination became incipeint and I’m too impateint to que for the toilet; at the risk of aleinating my audeince of freinds, I decided to be disobedeint towards soceital veiws of hygeine and instead conveneintly and efficeintly releive myself at the bar! Although the notoreity acheived through this mischeivous act simply amplifeid my euphoria, I suspect this is transeint and tomorrow I’ll be a certifeid zombei bureid in a state of anxeity and feircely vomiting on my breifs…

      Sep 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #2   ClearlyDemented

    I can just picture the NYT subscribers scoffing at their computer screens. “I wonder how many *average* people have been tricked into believing ‘theif’ isn’t a word. “

    Sep 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   se

      I guess I’m *average* and I didn’t know that “theif” is a word. what does it mean?

      Sep 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.2   MAMARILLA2 bang

      Perhaps the misspelling is putting an H in place of an R..Treif is most certainly a word. Once the term treif referred to the meat from an animal with certain defects, today treif is used for all non-kosher products. I can see where the thief could be thought of as a pig and by a stretch, not kosher.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.3   se

      mam, treif is not a word in the english language.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.4   Canthz_B bang

      Treif is Hebrew maybe?… “Treyf” in Yiddish.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 12:39 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.5   MAMARILLA2 bang

      And in New York may be more common than we think..

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:59 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.6   Canthz_B bang

      Oooo, you went all Jessie Jackson there, ‘Rilla! :-P

      Sep 13, 2010 at 2:03 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.7   MAMARILLA2 bang

      Just thinkin’, Scrabble has changed the rules…

      Sep 13, 2010 at 2:09 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #2.8   Canthz_B bang

      Yeah, now there will be fights over which proper names are in fact “proper” names! :lol:

      Sep 13, 2010 at 2:20 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #3   MAMARILLA2 bang

    Doesn’t Angela Landsbury prefer the London Times.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Canthz_B bang

      Yes, because for her it beats looking at who’s in the Mirror.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:14 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

       
    • #3.2   ihaveanartcar

      why is that what they read in small towns in Maine?

      Sep 13, 2010 at 3:40 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
    • #3.3   Canthz_B bang

      You know how long I tried to figure out what “a nart car” is?! LOL

      Sep 14, 2010 at 2:32 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #4   jfruh

    Nobody who uses “quality” as an adjective/synonym for “good” has the right to call themselves an intellectual.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   Mo®

      Ahhhhh mind worm! Now all I can think of is,
      “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”.
      The Metaphysics of Quality

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:34 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #5   Laestig

    I love the Angela Lansbury threat. I can’t help hoping they mean Mrs. Potts. Or maybe the Empress from Anastasia?

    Sep 12, 2010 at 3:36 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   Aimily bang

      I really want it to be Mrs. Lovett, actually. After visiting bloody retribution upon you, she will dispose of your body in a manner both thorough and tasty.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #5.2   AuntyBron

      Sadly, I think they refer to Jessica Fletcher.

      “Dear Newspaper Ho’
      Angela is like knocking on 100 years old – I think I can take her.
      Love,
      New Newspaper Reader

      Sep 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #5.3   The Elf

      It’s not Angela Lansbury that has me worried. It’s Pennywise the Clown. NEWSPAPER THEIVES ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE!

      Sep 13, 2010 at 7:09 am   rating: 10  small thumbs up

       
    • #5.4   MAMARILLA2 bang

      Beep beep, Richie.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 7:40 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

       
    • #5.5   TippingCows

      And here I was shaking at the thought of Hillary Clinton beating down my door.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 5:06 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #6   Kelly

    While in college, I needed a subscription to the Wall Street Journal for a Finance Class. I think I was able to pick it up only twice a week, the other days it was taken…

    Sep 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #7   becca

    I had a problem with someone stealing our paper a few years ago. I taped a little camera to our peephole and when we caught the bastard we showed the tape to our apartment management company. The dude was kicked out. lol

    Sep 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

     
  • #8   finette

    Most of these note-writers do sound like pompous asses, but I have known the seething fury inspired by the unknown apartment building newspaper thief. At the time I was a poor grad student and didn’t even have internet access at home, so it was a hit to my budget as well as my awareness of the day’s news.

    I even tried a note, but I like to think I was a bit craftier than these people: after reading a paper that hadn’t been stolen, I rolled it back up with the note inside and left it where the carrier usually did. (I don’t recall what the note said, but I think it was more appealing to their conscience than threatening bodily harm.) Unfortunately the thief either didn’t take the bait, or they put that one paper back after finding the note. In any case it certainly didn’t deter them from stealing future papers. That was a depressing year.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 4:44 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   Jenny

      We did the same thing only instead of a note, we put dog shit. In the comics section. Paper theft stopped for a while after that. When it started again we put out another dog shit paper. After that, they left our paper alone.

      Sep 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm   rating: 13  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #9   Canthz_B bang

    I haven’t had my newspaper stolen, heck, even I don’t want my Arizona Republic anymore!

    Sep 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #10   Edwina the Defrocked Nun

    What’s a newspaper?

    Sep 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

     
  • #11   aaa bang

    Mr./Mrs. Second Floor has renewed my faith in the power of a good passive aggressive note. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such creative and inspired channeling of anonymous fury. In a time when inconsistent formatting and even clip art seem to be too much effort for today’s passive aggressive note writer, Mr./Mrs. Second Floor has reached directly into my soul with their angry red capitalization and creepy and inconsistent pictures ganked from Google Image Search and directly deposited within hope for the future of passive aggression. So thank you, Mr./Mrs. Second Floor. Thank you for giving me the strength to know that I can go out into the world with confidence that I can count on those who are just too damn angry to confront their targets directly.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   Bunnee

      I LOVE how this sounds like one of those “Real Men of Genius” Bud Lite radio ads!

      “Thank you, Mr. Angry-Note-Writer-in-response-to-a-newspaper thief!”

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:28 am   rating: 10  small thumbs up

       
    • #11.2   aaa bang

      Shit, I didn’t even think of that before. X3

      Sep 13, 2010 at 10:51 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #12   butt

    I like the first one, actually.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #13   cathy

    Alright, I’ll go ahead and say it. Mostly because I get to stay nameless and avoid eye contact by hiding behind my computer. But these notes are no more smug and pompous than about 90% of readers’ posts on this blogsite. Indeed, most responders on PAN resort to the most unctuous and haughtily-wordy taunts, even when the popinjay vernacular of the hoi polloi would prove just as suitable. Seriously, if you’re going to laugh at the scorned NYT readers, then start posting ROFL, “dats gayyyy” and “retardud.” like NORMAL blog readers.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm   rating: 15  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   park rose

      “Popinjay vernacular of the hoi poloi”. Love it, Cathy. Guess they rock in the treetops all day long, singing “tweet tweetly tweet,” as opposed to the more erudite “Goo goo g’jub,” favoured by the egg heads.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:18 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.2   Canthz_B bang

      But, we’re NOT “normal” blog readers, cathy…we’re passive-aggressive dickwads. ;-)

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:28 am   rating: 12  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.3   park rose

      ROFL, CB! ;)

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:36 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.4   Canthz_B bang

      rose ♥, you’re such a retardud! :-P

      Infant Tyrone or TheOldSchool probably have a really short response to cathy on the way!

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:45 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.5   anglophile bang

      The thing is, cathy, the comments on this site frequently reflect the way we actually talk and write. Because we are people who know that “popinjay” is an adjective which describes a person, not a style of speaking, and certainly is not appropriate to modify hoi polloi.

      You have made two classic mistakes of one whose vocabulary is a little sparse: first, thinking that people using words you are unfamiliar with are doing it to show off, and second, thinking you can achieve the same effect by throwing unfamiliar words out there. The thing is, people who know the words you’re trying to use and the connotations they carry are just going to laugh at you.

      Sorry, that’s just the way life is.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:58 am   rating: 14  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.6   Savannah

      Surely there’s a happy medium between pompous and completely stupid? I think Angela Lansbury note-writer got their point across quite nicely. I absolutely love the “bat-shit crazy” images that were included.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:22 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.7   ashmeadow

      Well if we’re going to debate rhetorics…

      First, popinjay is a noun.
      Second, using a noun as an adjective when paired with another noun, so that the adjectival noun takes on a possessive slant is quite common in English, anglophile. You don’t often see “popinjay” and “vernacular” used in this manner but fortunately (unfortunately?) for English, just because it’s uncommon doesn’t mean it won’t be correct in a couple years.

      What’s weird is popinjay describing the vernacular of the hoi polloi, as you said. That would be like the masses of America vainly repeating erudite catchphrases and sayings like they know what they’re talking about which more accurately describes politicians and CEOs.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:55 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.8   anglophile bang

      Fair point, ashmeadow. It was an unfortunate edit on my part as I originally wrote noun adjunct, but figured that was too technical and so meant to write “noun used as an adjective” but I’m going to let it stand as a lesson to myself to re-read what I wrote.

      Either that, or I’m completely bullshitting, backpedaling, and desperately covering my ass in an attempt to appear erudite and articulate. ;)

      Sep 13, 2010 at 10:05 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.9   Vagina Speklator

      Y’all are talkin’ retardud and sounding gay and stuff. stfu lol lol lol !!!!111!!11!!!1!

      Not now…’batin!

      Sep 13, 2010 at 10:21 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.10   park rose

      Cathy is winding us all up. I think she’s brilliant.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.11   aaa bang

      Pfft, any jackass with two brain cells to rub together can do that, though. What I’m wondering is if her post is a stealth parody or not. I CAN’T TELL.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
    • #13.12   park rose bang

      That’s what I meant, aaa. Therefore I think it is. Therefore I think it’s brilliant. Anyone who chooses words so carefully and precisely is fully aware of what they are doing. In my retardud opinion.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #14   April

    The Angela Lansbury note is by far the BEST note this site has ever seen! Something about that note is an epic win.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

     
  • #15   Lhyzz

    Elizabeth from Queens’ submission refers to the NY Post, not the Washington Post. (Or was the following note really about a stolen Washington Post? It wasn’t clear.)

    Anyway, the NY Post is a cheap tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch that most people don’t tend to associate with the more educated newspaper reader. Think of it as the FOX News of print journalism.

    By the way, when education and literacy pass for elitism in this country, we’re in trouble.

    Sep 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   catburglar

      I think we’re in trouble.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 12:29 am   rating: 14  small thumbs up

       
    • #15.2   Canthz_B bang

      ANYONE who doesn’t vote for a candidate based upon whom they’d rather have a beer with is by definition an Elitist.

      That’s been well established as truth because I read it on the internet.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 1:00 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

       
    • #15.3   Mo®

      We were in trouble. We are now in deep shit.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 8:52 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

       
    • #15.4   anglophile bang

      Wait, CB. Isn’t the president’s job just going around and having beers with everyone? I’ve been waiting for two years for it to be my turn! Damn.

      Sep 13, 2010 at 9:03 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

       
    • #15.5   Canthz_B bang

      ‘Glo, ya gotta buy a round or twenty million just to get on the ballot!

      Sep 14, 2010 at 1:47 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #16   Canthz_B bang

    Dear sir,

    I would never steal your New York Times thinking myself literate enough to read it.
    My new puppy, however, enjoys it so much he pees while reading it.

    He seems to especially love the Editorial page.

    Yours truly,

    NY Post (but only Page Six and the Sports section) Reader

    Sep 13, 2010 at 12:53 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #17   Canthz_B bang

    HA!
    Buy the Post…if I wanted a rag, I’d buy a box of Kotex!!

    Sep 13, 2010 at 1:05 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #18   Nack

    Team Angela Landsbury. Hell yeah. That note wasn’t passive aggressive, it was full on aggressive! And I loved it! More! More!

    …oh no…Someone stop me before it comes out…

    That note was fucking delicious. IT said so.

    Sep 13, 2010 at 2:54 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

     
  • #19   Bunnee

    I get the first two images that represent “batshit crazy”, but why the image of the fat girl trying to button her jeans? Is she getting ready to go into a Hulk-like rage because she can’t button those pants? Besides, everyone knows that you need to lie down in order to get tight jeans buttoned and zipped. (practical advice from the 80′s)

    That being said, I don’t think lying down will help in her efforts. Think stretchy pants, sister!

    Sep 13, 2010 at 9:37 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #19.1   park rose

      I thought the 80s were when baggies came in. Feed me the line from one step beyond, someone? Wade? And appropriate links to the two songs. I am phonesing as opposed to jonesing, and that looks funny. Do you delete the ‘e’? Anyway, I can’t link due to modern technology, and I have a sudden wish to hear those sweet melodies.

      Sep 14, 2010 at 2:16 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #19.2   Bunnee

      Sorry, Rose, I can’t feed you the lines, but I can say, I remember being a teenager (13ish) in the early 80′s, lying down on my bed to zip my jeans. I think baggies came in later in the 80′s.

      The more you know!

      Sep 14, 2010 at 9:02 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
    • #19.3   park rose bang

      I think you’re right, Bunnee!

      Sep 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #20   fauxelitist

    I had this very same problem, except it was people stealing my Vanity Fair (is that pompous enough?). The 70-30 ad to content ratio made it always too biblical in size to fold into the mailbox, so the mailman would just toss it in front of my door.
    Instead of getting passive aggressive, I did the sane thing, and had it sent to my office.

    Sep 13, 2010 at 10:00 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #20.1   park rose

      You little fake minks!

      Sep 14, 2010 at 2:17 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #21   michelleology

    WSJ has a great Friday crossword.

    Sep 13, 2010 at 11:01 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #22   Kitty

    Mmarilla2, I thought “treif” meant torn, and “chazzer” meant pig. But what do I know, I’m just a shiksa

    Sep 13, 2010 at 11:33 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #22.1   MAMARILLA2 bang

      a khazer blaybt a khazer

      Sep 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #23   pasquared

    If they’re so worried about someone stealing their newspaper, why not order the online publication? Idiots.

    Sep 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #24   Divvitar

    The English word is tripe, which is basically what these notes are. The last one is especially banal, and reinforces the stereotypical vernacular of the knuckleheaded New Yorker. I’m not sure what scares me more, Pennywise the Clown, or the Secretary of State looking like someone just shoved an ice cube down her pants.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:59 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #25   Madrias

    I used your copy of the Wall Street Journal as toilet paper, because toilet paper is now too expensive. I’ll kindly give your paper to the guy trying to catch the newspaper thief as they’ll only have to add glitter to guarantee his threat.

    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     
  • #26   Glenn Friesen

    I saw a man steal a newspaper, read it, and return it. Hey, what happened to neighborly love?

    Sep 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

     
  • #27   Bobby

    I don’t understand why these people can’t find out when their papers are being delivered or arrange for the paper to be more securely delivered.

    Sep 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #27.1   pony girl

      Probably because it isn’t 1952 in Mayberry.

      Sep 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

       
     
  • #28   Won’t someone think of the children? | PassiveAggressiveNotes.com

    [...] All the news that’s fit to steal [...]

    Dec 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

     

Comments are Closed