Mendte on Mendte on Mendte
It started with lunch at Jack’s Firehouse in the Art Museum section of town. Tom McGrath and Janine White from Philadelphia magazine wanted to talk to me about something. My first thought was, “Here we go again. Another pitch as to why it would be good for me to tell my story in their publication.” I have heard the same pitch from countless others. Hell, I have made the same pitch as a TV reporter and anchor countless times. I was ready with my gracious “Thanks, but no thanks” response.
When Tom went into the pitch, I was pleasantly surprised. He wanted to publish a story about my life post-scandal, or as I like to say, “post-It.” He said that many other people, for a variety of reasons, are in the process of rebuilding their lives and that I should write it from that perspective. It was brilliant, and what made it even better is that he wanted me to write it—for money even. I was in.
I didn’t realize quite how powerful the idea was until I saw the reaction the magazine story got after one day posted online. It shot up to the most read story of the day on the Philly Post almost immediately. In fact, it shot up to the most read story of the past week almost immediately. But those numbers aren’t what struck me; it was the stories behind those numbers. I have received several hundred emails, tweets and Facebook posts from people dealing with the “It” in their own lives.
A young man stopped me on 42nd Street in New York yesterday afternoon to tell me that he also had an “It” and that my story made him realize that he just has to keep plugging away. I gave him encouragement, but never asked him what happened to him. Being in the “It” club, I already knew that he didn’t want to talk about “It.”
I was stunned by how many are in the club. Here are some examples:
“Your article in PhillyMag gives me hope. I just suffered a major ‘It’ and didn’t think I would be able to rebound.”
“Larry, don’t ever let anything get you down. I have been used and abused and stepped on by my own government and family, but I am still fighting. We believe in you and Dawn.”
“Great story and very brave to reveal it like that. Inspirational to us who’ve had an IT in their life and were strong enough to pull ourselves back up and move on.”
There are negative comments too. You can read them on the Philly Post. It’s interesting that in the magazine article I mentioned that the only negative comments I typically get to online posts are from a handful of anonymous trolls. With the article now online, they’ve dutifully spewed from the shadows. Thank you for proving my point.
More importantly, thank you to everyone who has written to me. I am in the process of writing back to each of you. I am so happy the article touched you in some way. It is difficult to express in this post how much your messages mean to me. But, believe me, you touched me even more.
I will offer one last piece of advice to those who have suffered through an “It.” Although it may seem omnipresent and monumental, most people really don’t care or pay attention. After dropping my son off at school today, I went to the drive-through car wash. The attendant said, “Are you Larry Mendte?” When I told him I was he said, “I watch you every night.” (I get that at least once a day.) I thanked him and as my car entered the soft-cloth car wash I heard him yell, “I’ll see you on the news.”
I thought, “Maybe someday.”