Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Nearly Was Mine

To look at the trash file in my email inbox, you'd think I've missed out on a lot of great stuff by so mindlessly tossing away all that spam.

Why, if I were only smart enough to see the possibilities, I could have had successful careers in photography, medical billing, paralegal, nursing, accounting, criminal justice, graphic design or religious studies. Probably not all at once, but the way the economy's going, I could choose one from Column A and one from Column B and make a pretty decent living.

Daily I'm offered social networking options from eharmony, bigbeautifulwomen, singlesnet, Christian singles and speed dating. With the click of a button, I could join the Disney movie club, arrange for laser eye surgery, get a free trip to Las Vegas or a great deal on life insurance. No wonder my head's all awhirl.

Orchard Bank wants to be my financial advisor, somebody else is ready to arrange a loan, and the payment committee of some vast fund that gives money away is trying desperately to contact me. Prizes are still "pending" from several other incredibly generous sources overburdened with aggravating amounts of extra cash. Dell wants to send me a free laptop, and everybody from Pizza Hut to Walmart wants to give me valuable gift certificates if I'll simply participate in an online survey. That's all they're asking.

I could even get a free tarot or palm reading if I simply go to a certain website. Sheesh - what was I thinking when I trashed that offer?

Oh, by the way, I know a great place you can get such a deal on a forklift rental.

And that's only the highlights of this week.

Spam is a curious name for electronic junk mail. People my age remember Spam as a kind of food that can only be described as canned "meat product" which had some popularity when we were children. On the label the product ingredient list was always rather vague. I remember it as a food that had to be creatively doctored up with something else, like pineapple or barbecue sauce, to make it palatable. Even in the early days of our marriage, my husband liked Spam as an alternate sandwich meat. (His philosophy: if you can't put it between two slices of bread, it's not real food.) Spam fell out of favor for a while, during the economically robust Reagan years, but it's making a comeback again. Does this mean Spam sales can be a reliable economic indicator? Now there's a subject for a master's thesis for some enterprising economics student.

But I digress. Non-food Spam is also a form of harassment, the gnats and mosquitoes of our lives that infect our electronic conveniences. Apparently the marketing guys who dream up this stuff have never been bothered by annoying insects. Either that or they don't understand the implications of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." There's a special rung in Purgatory for spam marketers.

So many voices out there want my attention, and they're all dumping stuff in my inbox. And what will they do if I give them my attention? They'll be so grateful they'll continue their effort to engage in a long-term relationship with me no matter how many times I decline and put them in the "delete forever" box. A few times I've found something valuable inadvertently dumped into the spam file, but rarely. What we learn from this is that "delete forever" really means "change the access codes and try again next week." But I would worship at the feet of the person who could actually delete my email address from these mailing lists.

Still, the one spam message that stirs my curiosity simply says "Beyond the Rack" repeatedly, not giving me any clues in the subject line about the nature of the product, service or information being offered. Is this about getting a great deal on clothing? A sale on Medieval torture devices? You wouldn't think there's be much of a market for that. Or maybe it's about those metal devices you strap on your car to transport your skis. Maybe it refers to hunting, as in a rack of antlers, or a great cut of meat, like a rack of ribs. Might be about wall-mounted book shelves, or a place to display magazines. It couldn't be an invitation to something sado-masochistic. No, that's unthinkable.

I could find out easily enough if I just clicked on the link. Maybe...


jww said...

No, NO!! Don't click it!! (ha) Yes, it really is interesting to me how much a person who has an e-mail address is REALLY eligible for! Money, fame, beauty. Wow. And, yes, I agree--electronic spam is about as low as you can go. Please.

jww said...

Oh, and I forgot to say... I am fascinated with those eharmony things. I guess it's the latest in dating, but I always wonder... if I submitted my profile and Kevin submitted his (or if we did this when we were 20), would we have gotten matched up together?? It is a very fascinating thing to think about. I think there's a lot to be said for having a lot in common, but I think to a large degree, you are attracted to what you AREN'T. You admire something about that person because it doesn't come naturally to you. How could eharmony pick that out?? Isn't there more to be said for being friends or working well together or building on each others' strengths, and not just "looking good on paper"? I obviously spend too much time wondering about this.

Karen Dupaix said...


Fun essay. I happen to like the real spam. It's really good with scrambled eggs.

I miss out on all those terrific offers too. I guess we'll just never know.

Amy said...

Some of the subject lines really scare me--I'm afraid to find out what I might read if I clicked on it!! And, did you know SPAM (the meat product) is very popular in Hawaii??

Mary said...

"A sale on Medieval torture devices?" Hee hee, great line! My first reaction was that it must be a clothing offer; your paragraph of possibilities piqued my curiosity, so I Googled "beyond the rack", and yes, it's an online store where you can buy designer clothes at a discount.

As far as eharmony goes, my sister did a PR project for them a few years ago and was given access to use their product. She and her husband each submitted their profiles, and she was matched to only two people in the state of Utah. You guessed it: one of her matches was her husband. On the other hand, my single sister tried their service this year and was disappointed with the small number of matches. She went on a date with one match, and found that they weren't. Other than both of them being LDS, they had nothing in common to talk about.

Janet Kay Jensen said...

Ironic, isn't it, that the stranded cruise ship received deliveries of Spam and Pop Tarts?