If it's a story about me, then I'll say so up front.

This is a blog about Truth, Justice and the American Way. The stories are true. No names have been changed to protect anyone's identity, including my own. If the story is about me, then I'll say so right up front. If I don't use a name to identify whom the story is about, then it's because it's not relevant. So please do not call me or e-mail me with your kind condolences or unwarranted congratulations about something that you believe is a cleverly disguised bio from my alter ego. These stories, like my photo, are unretouched.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dreading the Mailbox

The mailbox is a foreboding place these days. Like a 4:00 a.m. phone call, you know it’s not going to be good news. There was a time when I might look forward to a letter from a distant friend. Now friends just email me the latest YouTube link. Is it just me, or are you beginning to wonder if Susan Boyle knows a song other than “I Dream a Dream?”

Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes could be informing me that “I may already be a winner!” But I doubt it. Ed McMahon died and my hopes of an oversized check with my name on it died with him.

Nonetheless, I reluctantly trudged out to the mailbox this morning and here’s what I found:
3 magazines (I actually subscribe to one of them)
3 catalogs
2 ads
1 Christmas Card (from my insurance agent)
15 pleas for donations from nonprofits

‘Tis the season.

So I go through the stack. I pull out the “mailing labels enclosed” because I can always use more return address labels. OK, actually I can’t use more. I already have so many that I don’t know what to do with them. But I feel guilty throwing them out. Of course, that’s exactly what the nonprofit is hoping. That I’ll feel guilty about their having made up these lovely personalized labels.

The thing is: Lots of times they don’t get the name correct. Kay Lorraine. Sometimes they decide that my name must really be Lorraine Kay. Like I wouldn’t know my own name just because I’m blonde. And how do they know that I’m blonde? Worrisome.

Furthermore, my husband’s name is Brad Bate. Mostly, I don’t use his name. I use my husband a lot but his name, not so much. So I get Lorraine Bate, Kay Bate, Mrs. Kay Bate, Mr. Kay Bate, and – my own personal favorite – Mr. Brad Lorraine.

Anyway, I have too many labels. But my packrat mind keeps them all – just in case! Even the Christmas labels which, as a practicing Jew, are probably inappropriate for me, but the gas company doesn’t know that I’m Jewish so I use them to pay bills. I think of it as “Festive.” The Christmas Cards with the snow scenes are another story. As a Jew in Hawai‘i, they just don’t say “Happy Holidays” for me. But I keep the envelopes to pay bills with.

The only labels I don’t feel bad about tossing are the Jerry Lewis MD labels. Not because of Jerry or his kids. I give money every year to Jerry. But those are hands-down the most ugly labels known to man. Year after year, they never get any better. Horsy bold typeface set too close together. Yuk! Doesn’t the MD marketing department have an art director? Or someone with some esthetic sensitivity that can look at those suckers and say, “Guys, this is just crap.” It costs the same amount of money to print a nice serif typeface with decent kerning and leading as it does to print crap. Hello! So I throw those directly into the trash with no remorse.

But then there are the groups who send you a nickel. Do you peel off the nickels? Me, too. I just do it so that the metal doesn’t screw up the shreader at the city dump. That’s the only reason – I’m not really greedy; It’s an ecology thing. Sure.

At least it’s not as bad as the Indian Reservation that sends me blankets made from toilet paper byproducts.

Who knows better than I do how desperate nonprofits are these days? Each time I pass the empty building where the Hawai‘i Women’s Business Center stood, a pain shoots through my heart. They closed the doors over a year ago. I was the Executive Director. My husband says, “You have to move on.” Of course, he’s right.

In this economy, nobody has any money. So the nonprofits are glutting the mail. Can this possibly be profitable? I now own eleven free calendars for next year, filled with lovely pictures of polar bears and homeless children and whales-worth-saving. If those nonprofits took all of the money they spend on mailing labels, calendars, Christmas cards, Tibetan peace flags, and Indian blankets and did good instead, wouldn’t we all be better off? Or does no one give money to any charity anymore unless they get something or are guilted into it? Maybe that’s what we did wrong at the Business Center. Too much free counseling – not enough mailing labels. Sure.

Everyone is scrambling for every nickel these days. Not me, of course. I’m just trying to do my part to save the shreader.