The Prank Letters of S. William Kost

Over the last ten years, I have written dozens of joke letters, sometimes under pseudonyms, to companies large and small in America and around the world. Many of these companies have written back.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Willow Creek Community Church 3/11/01

Meet Lyle Castrole...a man of many "personal" problems...

Lyle E. Castrole
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 11, 2001

Pastor Bill Hybels
Willow Creek Community Church
67 East Algonquin Road
South Barrington, IL 60010

Dear Pastor Hybels,

I am going to be in the Chicago area from May 4-22, and am interested in attending services at Willow Creek Community Church. I have friends in both Wheaton and Carol Stream who have recommended it to me. I have heard that Willow Creek is committed to delivering God's Word to people of all backgrounds as well as levels of mobility. As I am handicapped, this is welcome news to me.

My disability does not require the use of a wheelchair, nor is it an impairment of either my eyesight or hearing. Pastor Hybels, I have a handicapped brain. I'm not mentally retarded. I have no learning disabilities, and I have full cognitive ability. What's different about me is that I react in very extraordinary ways to very ordinary stimuli.

For example, last Tuesday I was watching television when a commercial for Odor-Eaters came on. The commercial was very normal, as were the actors and the product they were selling. But when the voice-over announcer stated the words "activated charcoal", that's when things got crazy. Upon hearing those words, I promptly stood up, kissed my next-door neighbor, removed my shirt, got a pencil from the drawer, stuck the pencil up my left nostril, and walked in a perfect circle for 37 minutes.

Three weeks ago, on my 31st birthday, my mother came over to my house, bringing with her a photo of myself as a baby. I laughed at the chocolate cake on my face, but when I saw the 1969 calendar in the background, it triggered my odd behavior. I ran out my front door with one hand on my head and the other on my right thigh, and when I got to the 7-Eleven I stopped, looked in the window and made donkey noises for twelve minutes.

Many different triggers have had repeated effects on me, and as a result I am no longer allowed in Office Depot, McDonalds or any hotel (the little soaps make me belch the alphabet).

Pastor, I am writing this letter to you to make sure your church can accommodate my unusual disability. I can make sure to locate myself in a corner of the sanctuary, where I might be out of the way of most people. I cannot predict whether or not I will have an incident at the church, but I do know that every time I watch TBN, something happens, and it's not because that woman's big hair. Is there any way there can be a security officer nearby in case I get up and scream "the bucket the bucket the bucket" until I drop?


Lyle E. Castrole

Dear Lyle:

Bill Hybels passed your recent letter along to me. My name is Bob Irwin, and I am the Safety and Security coordinator here at Willow Creek. I would be glad to personally attend to you, if you decide to visit us in May. Please contact me when you know the date you will be attending one of our services and I will arrange for your special needs.

Willow Creek serves over 17,000 attenders at our weekly services, so it is our desire to protect them from disturbances of any kind. I appreciate your consideration for others. It would be advisable for one of your friends to accompany you when you visit, and we will do everything we can to attand to your disability.

Lyle, you can contact me at (847) 765-5000 ext. 633. Leave a message for me giving your phone number and also your friend's phone number. Let me know which service you will be attending. I will then arrange to meet you, or have another security person escort you during your visit.

It is important that you contact me before your visit so that I can provide a safe place for you thus allowing you to enjoy the service. Thank you for writing and I look forward to hearing from you.

In Christ,
Bob Irwin

Lyle E. Castrole
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

April 16, 2001

Bob Irwin, Safety and Security Coordinator
Willow Creek Community Church
67 East Algonquin Road
South Barrington, IL 60010

Dear Mr. Irwin,

I appreciate you taking the time to write me back before the days in May that I was supposed to go out there and attend Willow Creek. There have been some huge things that have happened since I wrote you that letter in April.

If you remember, up until recently I had this odd problem of reacting very strangely to certain "trigger" words or phrases. I would hear a particular word on TV or in a conversation, and all of a sudden I would go berserk. I think I told you about the McDonald's incident in the last letter, where I got kicked out because Ronald McDonald's face made me start singing songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (a movie I haven't even seen). Well, I am happy to say that that whole problem is gone due to the thoughtful work of my pastor, Jess Northrup. He suggested one night that I might be demon possessed. I told him it wasn't possible, since no demon has ever signed a lease! (A joke) Then he got really serious and started yelling at me, shouting out commands like Get out! and Leave him! Well I got up to leave but he was holding me down! Suddenly I felt this wave rush over me and I knew I had been cured. Pastor Northrup said that I definitely had a demon inside of me that was doing all of this crazy stuff. He said that the demon needed to be exercised. I didn't get it. Wouldn't that make the demon stronger? Well, maybe the workout tired him out and he fell out of me. Anyway it worked out.

The problem is that I was shaken really hard and I kept hitting my head on the floor, and a week later I went deaf and I can't speak a word. The doctor says it's temporary, that I should be back to normal in a year or so. In the meantime I'm not supposed to travel, so the Chicago trip is a bust. Also I can't get Bob Carlisle's song "Butterfly Kisses" out of my head. I appreciate all that you were willing to do for me to accommodate my condition. Therefore I have a new question:

Are there transcripts of Pastor Hybels (spell check suggests: "Highballs"!) sermons available? Like in script form, or outline? Since I can't hear (temporarily), a tape is useless. Some pages to read on the bus would be good. Please let me know. And again, thank you for all of your generosity and dedication to making sure I could enjoy the service. I feel "safe and secure" already!


Lyle E. Castrole

P.S. My nephew told me a joke: What was King Nebucadenezzer's favorite kind of sandwich? Babylonian cheese (Baloney and cheese) Pass that on to Pastor Hybels!

President of GE 3/11/01

By this point, I hadn't written any letters for a while, and then, after becoming inspired by the prank letters of Ted L. Nancy, I decided to begin the campaign again, using different character names instead of my own. This one was a one-time character, used for obvious reasons...

Jeffrey R. Immelt, third bongo

P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 11, 2001

Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman & President
General Electric Company
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06431-0001

Dear Mr. Immelt,

Well, I think it's absolutely AWESOME that your coompany is the biggest and best in the world! You don't get 400 billion dollars a year by being second best, right? No, you get it by being FIRST best! And that's just what GE is, the first best! I try to remember to buy only GE light bulbs when I need new ones. And I only watch NBC, because it's MUST-SEE TV!

I'll get right to the point here. In case you haven't noticed yet, Mr. Immelt, my name is also Jeffrey R. Immelt. Now, I'm sure that your R doesn't stand for the same thing as mine, which is Renschrawt, but still, it's Jeffrey R. for both of us! Well, I guess the point of me writing this letter to you is to make a promise to you.

Since you are the leader of the biggest company in the world, and I am just the third bongo of a small bongo band in Portland Oregon, I guess it goes without saying that your reputation is a whole lot more valuable than mine is, right now. But see, the thing is, our band isn't going to be small for long. We are going to make it big, and not just in Portland, either. We'll be big all over the world, the same world that your GE is the biggest company in. And I'm not always going to be third bongo, either. I'm about to be promoted to second bongo, which is huge considering how we're right on the edge of the BIG TIME.

So anyway, my promise to you, Mr. Immelt, is that no matter how big our band gets, I will never do anything to damage our common name. What I mean is, I'll try to never do anything that will make people think that someone named Jeffrey R. Immelt is a bad guy, and just a rock star jerk, or anything like that. I'm all about the good times and having fun, not trashing hotel rooms and snorting heroin. Also, with my wife being 7 months pregnant with our first son, there's the decision of whether or not to name him Jeffrey R. Immelt, Jr!

Well, I hope you have had time to read this letter, but if you don't that's alright. I understand that you probably have more important things to do, like making 400 billion more bucks! My van's leaving for Estacada, so I've got to go now. When I get a chance I'll send you a tape.

Peace and Power,

Jeffrey R. Immelt

I was astounded to receive this reply, handwritten on GE company letterhead:

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for your nice note. What a great name...huh?

Good luck with the band, and with being a father...I hope you enjoy both. I'll try to make you proud of GE and me. Buy junior a few shares of stock for his portfolio.

I wish you the best in everything. You were so nice to think of me.


Timex 3/31/98

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 31, 1998

Watch Setting Dept.
Timex Corporation
Middlebury, CT 06762

Dear Timekeepers,

I recently heard a saying, that a man with one clock knows what time it is, but a man with two clocks is never sure. Political correctness notwithstanding (what about a woman with a clock?), I believe that the saying makes a good point. We never really know what time it is, do we?

It is for this reason that I write to you. When people ask me what time it is, I must tell them an estimate, because, I'm not sure how accurate my (Timex) watch really is. Not that your products are substandard; to the contrary, they are superior indeed. It's just that I don't know which clock I can set my watch to in order to assure synchronicity with the One True Time It Is. So I figures that, being the time experts that you are, you would be the highest authority I could turn to for the solution to my conundrum.

Could you, therefore, inform me as to what time it is there, and then I can set my watch to that time. I would really appreciate it.

Until Next Time,

S. William Kost

P.S. Please send an XL T-shirt, or a pen.

Dear S. William:

I'm not surprised by your letter. I often wonder how people who purchase highly accurate watches are able to set them to the correct time!!!

I can tell you the exact time as I write this letter. However, I don't think that will solve your problem. For information, watch evaluations performed by Timex require setting watches to the exact time. There is a phone number we call that provides the exact time. Our master watches are set to this time on a daily basis, (303) 499-7111.

Hopefully this will help you.

Thomas Drago
Supervisor Finished
Evaluation Department

Enclosure — Timex pen

Tri-Met 3/31/98

S. William Kost
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015

March 31, 1998

Attn: Tom Walsh
4012 SE 17th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202

Dear Mr. Walsh,

Thank you for your most recent letter and special all-day tickets. I've been riding Tri-Met for years now, so technically I'm not a new rider; but the tickets came in handy nonetheless.

There have been a few things I've wondered about for awhile, and I thought you might be able to help me figure them out. I've organized my inquiries and handily placed them below:

1. Why does all of the MAX train's power temporarily shut off as it approaches the Lloyd Center Station (inbound)? It doesn't seem to matter which car I'm in. It's a bit freaky, to say the least.

2. What is the reason for printing "This Side Up" on the front of the bus pass? I mean, are people who read the passes unable to read printing that is slightly tilted, or even upside-down? And, if that's the case, how are these people able to read the words "THIS SIDE UP" unless it's already right side up?

3. Your placards ask riders to write Tri-Met if an operator went "the extra mile" for them. Personally, if I've rung the bell, and you go an extra mile past my stop (especially on MAX!), my letter to you is not going to be as complimentary as this one. Are you actually encouraging angry mail?
I hope you can shed some light on my questions soon. I'm puzzled! Until then, keep up the good work (even in the face of bridge closures)! Please send an XL T-shirt or a pen.

I've got a ticket to ri-i-ide,

S. William Kost

P.S. Are you related to rock legend Joe Walsh?

Dear Mr. Kost:

I'm responding to your letter and your questions about Tri-Met's system at the request of Mr. Tom Walsh.

1) Why is MAX power temporarily shut off as it approaches Lloyd Center Station?

The electrical overhead contact system that is the source of power for MAX is segmented in order to eliminate the possibility of a total electrical shutdown of service in an emergency situation. (There are substations located every mile that generate and distribute 750V of current.) Sparks are occasionally produced at the location of this segmented cable when the MAX car's "pantograph" passes through it. (The pantograph is the connection assemble that is the intermediary between the overhead wiring and the train.) In order to eliminate this possibility, we sometimes ask the rail operator to coast when crossing one of these locations. The train is powered immediately after crossing the segmented line.

2) Why are passes imprinted with "This Side Up?"

This was done at the request of our bus drivers as a reminder to customers to hold the pass so it's easily seen by the driver when the customer boards. Often in the past customers displayed the pass so that the designation was completely covered and unreadable for the bus driver. The "This Side Up" message has helped this situation for our drivers.

3) Why do buses and MAX go so far past the stop?

When in service, MAX stops at the station. The only time a train goes past a station is because of an emergency or if it is not in service. Buses sometimes stop past the stop for safety reasons or because the driver didn't see a customer waiting for the bus. If the bell is rung too late, it causes the driver to either eliminate stopping for safety reasons, or stop the bus further down the block—past the stop.

You asked for a T-shirt and a pen. I regret that we don't keep T-shirts or pens in stock to give to customers. Thank you for taking the time to write and for riding Tri-Met.

Virginia Woods
Customer Satisfaction Representatives