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My mail carrier is a kindly lady who truly enjoys her work, except on the days the catalogues arrive.This is most days, actually. This morning I got two from Blair, one from Draper’s and Damon’s, one from The Tog Shop, one from Norm Thompson, two from JCP and a couple of coupon packets from Ralph’s. Despite my requests to the contrary, all of these and more show up with regularity in the cute wicker basket on my front porch. They don’t often all come at once, though. Mondays are for this one, Tuesdays for that; Saturday is when the real first-class mail shows up.

I have to admit that I enjoy browsing through a few of the catalogues. Some have items to make those of us who are elderly and frail (okay, elderly and clumsy) survive our daily living. Most of the items are ticky-tacky little things that probably wouldn’t last a month, but some of the best money my mom–bless her!–ever spent was on a kneeling bench/seat with sturdy handles to help me get up from the ground or floor. (Google “folding kneeling bench”) Suddenly, I could get down and work in the yard again, a dirty pleasure I’d been missing a lot. Inside the house, I could reach the pots and pans in the bottom cabinet without having to crawl to a chair to help me get back up off the floor.

She had it shipped directly to me. Uh-oh.

Hidden in the box with the kneeler was a special little booklet that promised me 80% off everything just for being such a good customer. I didn’t order anything from the book, even at 80% off, although it was hard to resist the screaming purse alarm, which would have been handy in case my purse was ever snatched while my fingers were clutched on the alarm inside it. Nevertheless, somehow my mailbox from that time on was filled with offers of everything from curtains to camisoles.

There used to be even more. Macy’s finally stopped sending me 20-page ads when I had failed to use my Macy’s credit card for about three years. Maybe that’s the trick.

No, that’s not it. I don’t have credit cards with any of these  It seems, though, that I have established a “relationship” with all of them through having bought something, sometime, from an affiliated company. At least, many of them have the same kind of mailing label, each with a “source code” and a “customer number” even though I’ve never been their customer. The numbers are not only all different, they change from one week to the next. It’s not important, because next week i can count on getting at least one catalogue that includes a special gift because I’m such a rare and great customer. I haven’t had to buy return address labels for years. I figure that’s the catalogue equivalent of “For participating in our survey, you will receive a two day vacation for two to the Bahamas, gratuities and a small port fee not included.”

Still, most of those colorful former forests hit the recycle bin without having been opened, and they just keep coming.

There is mail I do want to get. If I write a short story and send it off to a magazine, complete with a polite and carefully scripted query letter, I’d like to get a response. That’s an envelope I will anticipate for a very long time with no particular hope of receipt. Possibly I need to learn a few sneaky tricks to speed the process. Maybe submit the story, then a week or so later send a request to remove my name from the magazine’s mailing list. It seems to be the only thing guaranteed to work.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.