Saturday, March 11, 2006

#120 - The Mail of the Species

It's a ritual that I have performed nearly every day of my marriage to Mrs. Woody. First, when we lived in a townhouse in Ventura County, and now in our home in Anaheim. Six days out of the week I visit our mailbox and see what the disgruntled postal worker has delivered.

The ritual is now enhanced because our neighborhood has trash cans strategically placed around the mailboxes so that people can preview their mail and deal with it accordingly. Those cans are nearly full just about every time I visit the mailbox.

Tonight I stopped by on my way home from the store. It's Saturday, so of course we're sick. Mrs. Woody started it, and I picked up on it the very next day. Some sort of head cold with all the attendant chest congestion and accompanying fevers. Loads of fun. This time, though, we found ourselves a bit short on medicine, so I went to the store [switches to Guy Mode] dragged my coughing, hacking corpse out of bed, fevers raging with every step, [returns to Regular Mode] and picked up a few necessaries. I generally stop by the mail on my way home.

One glance at the Third Class Mail cans told me that the sacrificial lamb for today was Adelphia Cable. Bless their little hearts. They are, of course, the only game in town if you want cable rather than satellite, and ever since the big scandal with their founders they've been trying harder than ever to win back the business. Their pricing structure is now such that, frankly, I'm astonished that they remain in business at all. I suspect that if the FCC and local governments weren't so concerned about the appearance of monopolies (as opposed to the enforced cable servitude that we currently experience), Adelphia would have disappeared long ago. Yet here they are, advertising yet another ludicrous discounted rate in a vain attempt to win business from us.

Judging from the Third Class Mail repositories, they have a loooong battle ahead.

From our perspective, we will join Adelphia just about the time that the Democrats put together a coherent platform. Or the Republicans. Take your pick. For one thing, Adelphia doesn't offer BYU-TV. We must have BYU-TV. Adelphia doesn't carry it, so that's that. Also, I love the convenience of having certain programming go haywire every time it rains, which is what happens with our Dish service. If the clouds are thick enough, we don't watch TV. This is probably a good thing, and encourages the correct behavior. Tonight, for example, I finally realized there is a God when this latest storm interrupted "George of the Jungle 2." The Woodyettes were distraught. I may slip a little extra in my Dish bill this month.

But back to the mailbox. This ritual of pre-recycling our mail is quite the time saver. For example, not one of those little postcard-sized mailers that have missing children on one side and carpet cleaners on the other has ever darkened Hacienda Woody. I take a quick look at the missing kids, realize that I never get out enough to ever see one, and refuse to even glance at the flip side. Carpet cleaning, maid services... whatever. I have never, in my adult life, looked at one of these mailers, slapped my forehead and exclaimed, "My gosh! I need to have my carpet cleaned! Of course!" Have you ever decided to get your carpets cleaned just because you got one of these mailers? Neither have I.

Most unfortunately, third class mailers are getting more clever about getting thrown unceremoniously away. They spend vast amounts of money to mail these things out, and they want a return on their investment. They need to get these things from the mailbox into my home, and the way they do that is to put my name on it. In ancient times, federal law mandated that they use the words "OCCUPANT" or "RESIDENT" to clearly indicate that this was throw-away mail. But now, because of identity theft, the third class world is cottoning on to the idea that if they put my name on it, I will take it into my house. Where we will promptly shred it. But at least it's IN MY HOUSE. It's a partial victory, but a hard-earned one.

By the way, we have one of those cross-cut shredders that turns everything into confetti. I like this shredder.

The ironic part, of course, is that these mailers get my information from those companies who constantly tell me that my privacy is their highest concern. I haven't yet figured out how they square the ethics of this practice, but I'm sure it's in their corporate training program somehow.

So the ritual continues. One day, soon, I'll pass it along to my Woodyettes, who will, in turn, pass it along to their children.

The Great Circle of Mail continues.

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