Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and the Ridiculous

I have always enjoyed getting the mail out of our mailbox each day.  Sometimes the husband/lover/best friend compete to be the first one to bring in the mail.  If he returns home from work before I am home, I know he will have already brought in the mail.

Why is mail a tiny fun point of my day?  I don't know.  A mail person brings stuff from near and far away, and the anticipation of checking the box each day is always there.  This feeling has persisted through many years, even in spite of the fact that the mail I receive is more and more disappointing as the years go by.

I think my love of the mail arrival goes way back to when I was a young child.  I remember eating my breakfast one morning and seeing an amazing offer on the back of the cereal box.  For a mere small fee for shipping and handling,  Kellogg's would send me a beautiful doll along with an amazing wardrobe for her consisting of six outfits and all the accessories.  Hats, gloves, and shoes.  I campaigned to my parents to send for this wondrous doll set for me, which they did.  I didn't understand at the time why they showed such a lack of enthusiasm.  It was obvious when I looked at the picture on the cereal box that this was an amazing doll, and surely every girl would want this, and I would love it and give it a wonderful home.

We mailed off the envelope containing the small fee, along with the required boxtop, and I began my patient wait for my package to arrive.  Daily I checked the mailbox.  Nothing.  Weeks passed by.  No doll.  My mother reminded me that the fine print said it could be a full six to eight weeks until the doll would arrive.

By the time it did arrive, I had become somewhat disgusted with our non-productive mailbox.  And to top it off, the doll in the package did not in any way resemble the doll on the cereal box.  It was a hard little lesson to learn at a very young age.

But still, to this day I get that little tingle of anticipation when I see there is a full stack of mail bumping open the lid of our mailbox, and especially if there is some sort of package in there.

Sometimes when I flip through the contents of the daily mail, I've got to scratch my head.  I've gone from being a college student with a combination mailbox in the mail center to a homeowner with an official mailbox hanging near my front door.  As a college student I'd be lucky if I'd receive one letter from home a week, or once in a while a flyer advertising a special dinner that night in the cafeteria, or a reminder about class photos.  As a homeowner I easily receive anywhere from ten to twenty pieces of mail a day.  Every day.

And that's where the good, the bad, and the ridiculous enter into the picture.

Yesterday, as I flipped through the catch of the day, I found myself auto-sorting the mail into three piles.  It dawned on me that I routinely categorize my findings this way every day.

First, there's THE GOOD:

I received four magazines yesterday - HGTV Magazine, People Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, and a Viking River Cruises travel brochure that I scarfed up so quickly that it didn't even have a chance to make this photo:

 This type of mail is GOOD because it brings enjoyment to me.  Obviously, any check received in the mail would go on the top of this same pile.

Then, there's THE BAD:

Yesterday's BAD pile contained three credit card offers (that's the punishment I receive daily for paying the few credit card bills I do have in full and on time every month), and one electric bill.

Typically the BAD pile is much larger than it was yesterday - more credit card offers, more bills, and other mail that requires time and effort to send some sort of response.

Finally, there's THE RIDICULOUS:

Unbelievably, son Caleb, of the ripe old age of 25, received his membership card and a listing of member benefits from the AARP, the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons.  Of course if he pays a membership fee NOW, he will receive an insulated travel bag, absolutely free.

Irritatingly, People Magazine wants me to renew my subscription for another two years, at a very low price of course, even though I am already paid up well into 2014.  How do I even know they will still be in print through the end of 2016?  And, this is the fourth "One Time Only Price Break" I've received from People Magazine over the last several weeks.  Hmmmm.

I did receive one other piece of mail yesterday, and I'm in a bit of a quandary as to which pile it goes  onto.  I may have to start a fourth pile - THE UNBELIEVABLE.

It is a postcard from American Airlines offering two round trip airfares to anywhere in the United States, including a three day two night motel stay.  Too good to be true?  Possibly.  Probably.  I'm sure there's some fine print there.  Probably too tiny to even be seen.

Is my mailbox as wacky as yours?  I'd be interested to know if you've received any interesting mail lately.

In the meantime, I think I'll go check the box.  It's about that time.


  1. When I was little, my Grandpa used to send away for all those cereal box offers for me! I remember little dolls where your fingers were their legs.

  2. We are apartment dwellers. Our postman tol my husband he was probably the only resident that picks up his mail on a daily basis. Apparently most people let the mail go for days. When their mailboxes are packed to the point he can't deliver the new mail he bundles the old mail in the box & takes it back to the post office. Then he starts over.

    I would probably be like that if I lived alone. I bank online & pay bills online. I subscribe to no magazines. I keep contact with friends & family through email or telephone. No letter writing for me.

  3. I used to love to get the mail before we became full timers. I even liked getting the catalogs to look through. Now that we have a mail forwarding service and everything costs more money, I get very little mail in the mailbox. Thank goodness. And until I read your post I didn't realize that I had been weaned off the mailbox. I loved remembering sending for things off the back of the cereal box and like you, the disappointment. But it took me awhile to learn that lesson. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  4. We have to drive to the post office three miles away everyday. Some days we don't get anything and other days the box is packed with junk mail. I wonder if they let it build up and then stuff it all in the box on one day.

  5. We received the funniest piece of mail today, but I can't tell because I am going to blog about it tonight. I just have to find my SD card so I can take a pic'.
    The post office amazes me sometimes.
    I am still collecting your papers. I am finding them in the most amazing places. hee