Junk mail provides more crises


There are enough crises going around, and like you, I don’t need another one.

The crisis?

Our failure to respond to junk mail in a timely and favorable way — in the sender’s view.

I got a letter one time from a company that had the following stamped on the outside of their beige-colored No. 10 envelope: “Do you know we don’t consider this to be junk mail?”

I wrote them back: “Do you know that I do?”

They do now. I never heard back from them.

And then there is “final.”

Junk mail technique is not unlike airplane boarding calls.

My daughter and I were waiting to get onto a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare international Airport one time. We were early enough for our own flight, so we enjoyed watching the people ready to depart theirs.

“This is the final boarding call for XYZ flight number 123, leaving gate number so and so in 5 minutes,” said the sultry voice over the loudspeaker.

We heard that announcement 11 more times for the remainder of the hour. That tends to cloud your judgment of the airline’s veracity (pun intended). Do they really want you to have a nice day? Will those little oxygen cups truly drop down in the event of an emergency (and will they fit over the coronavirus masks we’re required to wear to be on the plane to begin with)?

To that end, should we indeed be putting the mask over our own nose and mouth before we place it on that of the accompanying child? Children are supposed to live longer than us to begin with, why do we want to kill them off before ourselves? Exactly how useful is that seat cushion when utilized as a flotation device? When was the last time you bought a flotation device for your boat and the label said, “This device can be used as a seat cushion?”

The list goes on and on. Companies that go back on their advertised word bring about a fundamental mistrust that is not good for either their reputation or bottom line.

Several years ago, I responded to one of those so-called deals of a lifetime. I had various medical (or quasi-medical) tests done for a semi-nominal fee, thankfully with good results.

Beginning about nine months later, I began getting letters weekly about how I would likely die a premature death if I didn’t stop what I was doing and have those tests repeated — at a slightly higher fee, of course — and didn’t I know that my own health was worth it.

Apparently, I didn’t and haven’t known it for the last several years. It got to the point that about every month I would get one of these “This is your final opportunity” envelopes. Resisting the urge to shred the envelope there at the post office without opening it one day, I called the number listed at the end of the eight pages of sales pitch.

“Hi,” I said. “You want me to trust my health to you as a real bargain, right?”

“Oh yes,” came the enthusiastic response.

“Then can you tell me why your company continues to repeatedly send out a ‘final opportunity’ to me after I have told them more than once, both in writing and over the phone, that I do not want to hear from them again?”

“No,” the representative continued, “I don’t. And I totally understand your frustration. I would be frustrated, too. I’m sorry that happened. I’ll take you off my list,” was the caring reply. “Is there anything else I can do for you while I have you on the phone?”

“Oh, no,” I replied, “You’ve been great.”

And she was — for that one minute.

Three weeks later? Yep, you guessed it. I gave up.

Then there are all of those fabulous life insurance offers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re old enough to make Methuselah look like a toddler, you will be eligible for the coverage. In fact, your acceptance is guaranteed — subject to your response to only two “simple” questions.

The first one asks if you’ve been able to successfully walk on water over the last year. The second queries if you have ever had any of the diseases taught in the standard four-year U.S. medical school curriculum (or any diseases not taught in that period but seen in student residency thereafter). Sorry, halitosis, bunions and male pattern baldness are automatic disqualifiers.

See? Simple questions.

And who wouldn’t want to spend their extra, hard-earned money on something because it comes complete with a totally free, “deluxe” item (or set of items)?

I looked up the origin of “deluxe.” It is literally French for “of luxury.”

If I were French, I would be just a petite bit peeved. Items acquired new that resell as such for a dime at your neighborhood garage sale, yard sale or charity thrift shop should not qualify for the definition.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly want to spend $499 on my next set of rugged steak knives so I can get that “deluxe” combination keychain police whistle/flashlight/decoder ring.

So now you know junk is only so in the eyes of the receiver. Just a few more questions and I’ll have a “final offer” for you — really, I promise — cross my heart. Nah.

Les Linz is a resident of southern Indiana who writes the “Humor: More or Les” column. For information about Linz, visit his amazon.com author page. Send comments to awoods@aimmedia indiana.com.

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