Thursday, April 14, 2011


I am a certified personal mail junkie.  I will go to the mailbox in the driving rain or in the dark of night if I have somehow managed to forget to check for mail on my way in.  Every time there is talk about the postal service cutting off a delivery date or being in trouble...I start to get antsy.  I even like getting thank you notes that I know are a royal pain for a bride or graduate to send just because they are handwritten and addressed to me.  They break up the monotony of the requests for payment, the junk mail that must be gone through because every so often there is a good coupon or a rebate check masquerading as something unworthy, and invitations to get another Visa.  I realize that I could stop the latter, but I like keeping up with current trends in desperation to have me as a customer that these represent.  Their level of creativity in trying to convince me to sign up is sometimes hilarious and other times breathtaking.

I've often thought that I might enjoy attempting to write one of these.  You know...trying to convince the 10% of people that are actually going to open the credit card application why it makes sense to transfer funds to their card balances for a 3 or 4% advance fee and then charge anywhere from 9.99% to 24.99% after the initial six month period or a year at 0% interest.  My personal favorite?  When they enclose a copy of letter written with the handwriting font.  Yeah, that just screams "personalized" to me! (not)  So what would I do?  Let's see...

Dear Friend: (or Dear this case it means the same thing)

Thank you for actually taking the time to open this letter.  I do realize that it is a huge assumption that the person reading this is actually the person to whom this correspondence is addressed and not someone who just snatched this offer out of a random mailbox or recycling pile, but here's hoping!  I assume that you are familiar with the entity that sent this to you because in 2008 we were front page news as we stood there with our hands out, but hey!  it's three years later.  Since most of you don't remember what you had for dinner last night, we're assuming that you remember our name but aren't necessarily sure why it is you know it. A good thing, yes?

But enough about us. 

It is our assumption that you are reading this because you are at least considering a new credit card account.  Maybe you are knocking at the ceiling of your old credit limit, or you got the BOHICA when the credit card legislation kicked in and your rate got jacked up to 24.99%.  You know...the card that was supposed to be at a 9.99% fixed rate but we raised it because we could and probably never will be able to again?  Yeah, that one.

If you actually pay your bills, we'll probably welcome you as a new customer and will throw in something random like free monogramming on your purchases, a points system that we will change when you get dangerously close to being able to purchase something beyond what you can trade tickets in for at Chuck E Cheese, or a free room in a hotel with so many blackout dates that your blood pressure will be guaranteed to shoot up.

You'll need to check that blood pressure, though, with a free kit we'll send you as a valued customer along with the opportunity to try out our travel magazine that comes with a free companion airfare...if you pay full price, our credit card registry program, an appointment book for the remainder of 2011, and three free issues to In Style magazine. 

You did catch that "valued" customer compliment, didn't you?  We want you to feel special!  Because every month when our "statement" arrives, you'll also receive enough inserts in the bill to fill up your recycle bin.  If you take the time to read it, you will learn that it will only take you 26 years to pay off your current balance if you just pay the minimum payment, and you'll get at least two random pages for no other reason but to increase your panic at the virtual weight and thickness of our correspondence. 

I mean, we want you to feel that we cared enough to send you something worth opening!  Sadly, so so SO many of our offers go unopened that when someone actually takes the time to open up something from us, we want it to be well, for lack of a better term...a moment.

Fill out the information and send it in, and we'll get back to you on your application.  Actually, we just say we will get back to you.  What we will actually do is either send you a card, or keep pelting you with offers while you are waiting.  We feel that this just increases the suspense.  And if you needed a PIN number?  That will come in a separate envelope eight days from today, will look strangely like junk mail, and will usually arrive in enough time for you to misplace it three times before we issue your card so you'll have adequate time to freak out over it.  That just keeps you on your toes and mentally sharp!  We also know that you probably sincerely appreciate the anticipation of waiting and hoping that someone hasn't swiped your newly issued card from your mailbox.  About the time that you call our Customer Disservice Department and hold for at least 36 minutes...your card will magically arrive. 

Thanks for reading!  Happy charging!  We'll get those magazines coming your way! 

Your New Best Friend Bank

Well, maybe it's a little too wordy...wait!  What was I talking about before this?  Oh yes, mail.

I always enjoy those stories of love letters passed between two people while they are apart.  How they are able to still feel connected to each other by rereading the notes and taking the time to put into writing how they feel.  Some people have books that contain such compilations.  Sadly, due to the fact that nobody wants to slow down long enough to pen a letter, and the fact that many young people find great difficulty in composing a coherent sentence, I fear that this is something that is going by the wayside like so many other things that I L'eggs pantyhose eggs, colored toilet tissue, respect for elders and sitcoms.  As recent as a generation ago, there might have not been snail mail correspondence...but I'm pretty sure that e-mail correspondence between two parties was the rage.  Okay, it might not be handwritten...but it was still considered writing...and there was always that bonus of spellcheck.

But this generation?  Love letters by text. 

Him: Whazzup?
Her: Nm, U?
Him: Miss u like crazy
Her: Me 2
Her: K
Him: 143
Her: U2

See?  That's just wrong.  And even if they save the message on that phone, they'll more than likely drop the phone in a toilet at some point in time anyway or trade it out for a sleek new model that does things through applications ("aps") that I can only dream are possible.  Sheesh.

Don't ever forget that people tend to appreciate a note from you...even if your handwriting looks like you're a third grade graduate with fine motor skills.  Big Dave has never been accused of being a spelling bee champion, nor does he feel the need to employ any language skills beyond saying exactly what he means in a note, but I have a couple of cards that he sent me while we were courting.  I sincerely doubt that our children will make any money off printing our correspondence back and forth to each other, though.  Where some people were prolific writers during courtship...we were more like what might be written in the baby book of the fourth child of a family. 

The written word - especially in your handwriting - means a lot to people.  It is my opinion that the older you get, the more bread crumbs you should be leaving for people.  I still have letters that my grandmother and parents wrote me while I was in college.  I read them again a month or so ago.  They were talking about life as they knew it then, and were telling me when we'd be together again.  My grandmother has been gone for seven years this July, but her words to me - in her beautiful looping writing - are still here.  Along with all of my memories.

So, go out and write a note to someone.  Write a letter to your children about how much you love them. For those of you about to send a graduate into the world, jot down some words of wisdom encased in love.  They'll keep that letter...and years from now...that love will refresh them at a time or place where you may not be there in front of them to do it in person.  Because even if we get on their last nerve during the teen years, we are still extraordinarily valuable to them.  They'll see that at some point in time. 

Now...where is my stationery...?



  1. When we first married, during our laundromat days, I used that time to write our parents and if time was left over, to my siblings. In fact over the years of hands-on motherhood (even of one), I had very little time, but still was a card sending happy freak. But, it has bothered me for some time, that we are losing the communication skills we were taught. And with the texting, people won't even be able to spell fifteen years from now. I have from time to time filled a journal with Prayers to God because, in case I'm not here, I want my grandchildren to know I was a Christian and depended on God! Thank you for the reminder for me to step it up on actual written correspondence. Otherwise family really won't remember...

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