Mail Call

Mom’s only camp job is to gather the mail and sort it into two piles, hers and ours.  Most of the time she delivers it to us, but other times she leaves it for us to discover, usually in a stack on the end table next to her couch.  But occasionally it’s like an Easter egg hunt.  We’ve found our mail in the kitchen on the table, the counters, on top of the microwave and one time in the pantry next to her rice cakes.  It’s been placed in various places in our office including on a desk, on our chairs, on a shelf in the bookcase, and on top of a printer.  She’s put it on the coffee table, an end table, the ottoman, or the couch in the Arizona Room.  And once I found it on the vanity in her bathroom.  We haven’t discovered the logic behind whether she delivers it to us or it’s dropped in stacks around the house, but I think it has something to do with either her perception of the importance of her incoming mail or what’s on TV when the mail shows up.

Mom reads every single solitary piece of mail that she gets.  Most of her mail is junk, but it falls into three very distinct junk categories: important, interesting, or useless.  Publisher’s Clearing House is not considered junk mail.  It’s more akin to an investment prospectus.

Once she’s sorted her junk mail into the relevant categories, she then assigns responsibility for further action.  If it’s useless junk, like a flyer for car insurance or a coupon for a gym membership, she passes it along to us immediately.  Her logic is even though she can’t use a gym membership, Bill and I might be interested since, after all, we could stand to lose a few pounds.

If it’s interesting junk, she reviews it thoroughly in order to determine if it should be elevated to important junk or demoted to useless junk.  If, for example, it’s an “URGENT – OPEN NOW” envelope and contains a message hinting at the possibility that she’s won thousands or even millions of dollars for a contest that she’s never entered and there’s no purchase required but she must call immediately before the offer expires, this becomes important junk.  It goes to the place of honor on her end table and is allowed to intermingle with the very important Publisher’s Clearing House mail until she has time in her busy schedule to call the toll-free number and argue with the person at the other end that no, she doesn’t want any more magazines and besides the letter says there’s no purchase necessary, so please just send the winnings.  This conversation usually lasts 15-20 minutes.  We’re all still waiting for the checks to arrive.

On the other hand, if it’s a solicitation for special water-line insurance in case a pipe breaks and there are no qualified plumbers in the entire city who are capable of fixing the leak, it comes to us.  We are her junk mail filters and we are expected to review, evaluate and either advise her or discard the various brochures, letters and postcards.  Pipe leak insurance? No.  Gym membership?  No.  Store coupons?  Maybe.  Free wine tasting?  We’re all over that!

Bill and I agree that if the post office stopped increasing the cost of first class stamps and simply doubled the cost to send junk mail, not only would they get out of the financial hole they’re in, they would probably make a profit.


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