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February 19, 2024

The Aser Stories 26: Junk Mail

By Sand Pilarski

Why don't littering laws apply to your mailbox?

So I get to the front of my house after four or five months on the road, and the first thing I see are bits of paper sticking out of the mail slot. Pretty sloppy of the mail service, wouldn't you think? Checking around from under the hedge, I can see there are no elves with drawn bows, no lizardmen lounging about picking their toe-scales with polished daggers, so I'm willing to try my front door with the key and see if my little abode is still intact.

The door gives a little, but not much. I push harder, and something feels like it's pushing back. With a great heave, I manage to shove the door open about a foot, and see cascading from behind the door a curse worse than many others --- piles and piles of mail that have been poked through the letter opening.

Using my staff, I start pushing the edges back as I thrust the door inward. What I see when I can get my head past the doorjamb is horrendous. The entire room is littered with envelopes and thin books to the depth of my thighs.

Now granted, I didn't have time to ask the postal service to put a 'stop' on my mail before I lit out for the mountains, but this being such a small village, you'd think someone would notice that I was gone and not just keep stuffing stuff through my door ad infinitum ... !

Half the Brazilian rain forest is on my floor, ground to wasteful advertisements.

Kicking the mountain of paper out the door and into the clearing in front of my house takes about half an hour. Now the sorting begins, well, that is, after I contract with old Cobliver to carry off the garbage. I sort official mail from junk mail, and by the end of the next day, I've got his cart full of queries about credit cards and catalogs and political campaign solicitations, as well as begging letters for various charities.

Full, I tell you! Not just 'a pile of' -- I am talking a mountain of postal paper that outweighs me tenfold and more.

Fourteen different companies have sent me letters inviting me to invest with them so that they can provide me with a credit line, and they've sent me these invitations about twice a week each for all this time. Did they somehow hear that I'd found a treasure along the way, or did the inn at Great Well sell my information to some mailing lists?

I can understand the Shamans' Source catalog with its herbs and amulets; I do business with them sometimes for the hard to find Chinese herbs and the occasional girdle ... but why am I now receiving catalogs for push-up brassieres and personalized birdfeeders? Oh, and a plus-sizes one that has imprinted on the front cover, "Your personal profile inside, Ase Ur-Jennan, use this to choose the most flattering costume for the evening!"

And one hundred twenty-two single sheet flyers that say, in bold letters, "Vote for Liz!" although there is no indication of when I should cast my vote or for what position.

We shan't forget the pleas for donations (dammit, someone definitely got loose-lipped about that blasted ghost's gold I lifted) for the Mountain-Valley Homeless Dwarfs Association, or the Sisters of Imp Yarnknitters Benevolent Fund, or Trolls Alcohol Research Center Fund -- ah ha! that would be the Fart sisters and their elaborate still -- and sundry so-called organizations from here to the north mountains and back again.

But then there are the stacks of advertisements for carpet cleaning (I've got a dirt floor) and the pages of weekly grocery store advertisements (though the nearest supermarket is in Great Well, about two weeks' walk away; what are they trying to do, arouse interest for building one of the abominations here?) and the jousting equipment store ads are just outrageous, with an entire sheet devoted just to the kind of footwear knights like to peruse, and then two more for binoculars and tents and designer shoulder protectors!

After sorting the first round, I march down to the mail services office and bang open the front door. The posting-master has no doubts as to why I'm there for he hides behind the counter with his head covered by a Priority Mailing sack. I lean across the counter and say to him, "What the hell were you thinking, stuffing all that shit in my door?"

"I had no choice, it's the mail, it has to be delivered."

"Even if you know there's no one home? Even though it's mostly CRAP? Even though you've known me for years and know that I wouldn't want that?"

"If I didn't deliver it, I'd get in trouble with the main office!" He keeps his arms covering his head.

"Dacklerainey, you're a gutless toad," I say to him, and stomp out. I've dealt with the so-called Main Office before. They say anybody who wants has a right to send whatever mail they want to whomever they want. Important for a free and democratic society, they say, whatever the hell that is.

But the person who owns the door or the mailbox? Sorry, no choice. Paraphrenalia or porn, you got no choice. Your mailbox is thrown open to the vagaries of others like a honeysuckle flower is to a bee, but with far less fruitful results. Don't like to see all the ads? Tough, they'd stuff 'em down your shirt if you tore down your mailbox. Don't want the catalogs? Up to you to pursue the endless waste of postage fees to tell them over and over again you don't want them. Costs them about a tenth of a cent to send the catalogs with bulk mail rates; costs you about a tenner to finally get them to leave you alone ... that is, until they buy somebody else's mailing list that has you on it.

Sit back, shut up, take it. Throw it in your own garbage and pay for the privilege of having it hauled away. This is wrong and there will ultimately have to be a solution, or all the forests of the world will be gone into landfills and dump sites and the world will look like a dragon's litter box.

I head back to the house to look at the 132 pieces of official mail: a few bills, some professional correspon-dence, and 119 letters asking for advice, all of which can be answered by the following response:

Thank you for your letter!

The best answer I can give you is that you keep your bloomers on until he/she is no longer entangled with other relationships and has a decent job so that he/she can provide for the inevitable offspring. And get a contract in writing. The post office will be glad to deliver it to your lover's door.


Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-08-27
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