My answer to junk mail

THE letter that follows came on a Tuesday, which was otherwise a pleasant day, and I will share it: Dear John, What do you do about junk mail? Your suggestions might be helpful. Hastily, Your only friend, etc. Prudence suggests I do not divulge the name of the principal penitentiary in Illinois from which this communication emanates.

My answer follows:

Dear friend,

On every hand I hear wails and lamentations about the proliferation of junk mail, and I conclude that not every ``Postal Patron, Local'' is adapting to his opportunities. True, like everybody else, I am ripping mad at paying 22 cents to post a letter, whereas all the mail I get is stamped ``Bulk Rate Paid.'' I did write to my congressman (22 cents) and his answer came franked. And, like everybody else, I resent being the first-class goat for the international conglomerate that pays taxes in Finland, or Nigeria (or Somaliland), and then has presorted privileges out of Evansville, Ind. I don't like paying the freight for come-on gimmicks that don't interest me. But unlike (I gather) everybody else, I smile and smile, and I'm making out just dandy.

Because, as postal patron local, I've adapted to the opportunities. I admit there are some aspects of junk mail that still have me baffled. Well, there's the giveaway weekly advertising sheet that comes in the guise of a newspaper, circulating profitably without subscriptions, circulation, and mailing list, coming to me promptly and regularly because I am ``resident boxholder.'' I never look at it - it is a giveaway and a throwaway. But there seems to be no way to stop the thing. I couldn't even prove that I get it, since it doesn't have my name on it. My copy could be anybody's copy, and who's to know if I didn't steal one down the road just to make trouble? But almost all the other junk mail I get is pleasantly received by me, and I open it carefully to get the envelopes.

Perhaps you didn't catch what I said. Almost all the circulars and catalogs that come have return envelopes in them. These are perfectly good envelopes and for some time now I haven't bought any envelopes. Have you gone to the stationer's lately and priced No. 6 envelopes?

About half of these envelopes are business reply, saying, ``No postage necessary if mailed in the US. Postage will be paid by addressee.'' All you need for those is a black felt pen, and after you've crossed off the reading matter, you put on a 22-cent stamp. Just now I used a couple of such envelopes from The Epicures' Club and wrote to my mother and an old high school chum in Florida. But L.L. Bean doesn't use that kind, for instance, and there's less to cross out with the felt pen.

Soon after I began using these free envelopes, I found there was a risk. Well, I wrote to my (other) friend, Joe, and suggested we set a date for the June trout chowder, and when Joe got my letter he thought J.C. Penney was after him again to buy a family coat of arms, and he tossed my letter in the trash. A month or so later I wrote to ask if Joe were mad at me, and this time I used a L'Eggs Brands Inc., which piqued Joe's curiosity, and then he saw my return address on the back. (Since then Joe has gone to saving envelopes, too, and I just heard from him courtesy of Celestial Products.) Thus we did set a date for the trout chowder - June 6. And, lest others mistake my mail to them, I've begun using stickers to cover any misleading matter on the envelopes.

I get the stickers from Magazine Marketplace Inc., and Publishers Clearing House. The last batch from Magazine Marketplace ran thin on mucilage, but I didn't complain. Just lap and affix, covering up things like ``Rush Order'' and ``Important: Process Immediately!'' However, when I write to Mother I leave all that exposed, such as ``Check Voucher Enclosed,'' etc. As long as the junk mail keeps coming, I doubt if I'll ever buy another envelope.

After saving the envelopes, I burn the stuff in my shop stove. If you stand it up rather than lay it flat, it burns fairly well, and if it isn't too cold a day, you can take off the chill without putting in any wood.

Yours truly, etc.

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