First, you got letters from friends who still cotton to the art of the personal Letter. I love those people - - in fact, who do you know that doesn't like to get a "real" letter in the mail? Why do you think that we all love Christmas? Letters! Second, of course I was getting my weekly crack-habit of People Magazine. But since my mag was delivered at least 30 days behind schedule, it was akin to living in a virtual dentist's office where old magazines come to die. As a result, I tended not to want to hear, for instance, when Ellen had come out of the closet. In my overseas world she was still stuck in there arranging hangers for at least another month. Finally, you received Bills. However, often times given language constraints, it may not have been immediately apparent that they were, in fact, requests for payment.
You didn't know that they were Bills until one day when you consciously acknowledged that unlike sorting through the mail here in the U.S. what you are not having to rifle through is the aptly categorized Junk Mail. That's right folks, being an expatriate means that your daily receipt of Junk Mail is pretty much nil. Hence, if the item did not fall in to the category of Magazine or Letter, then you could be reasonably assured that it was likely a Bill. Bills were quickly taken to my secretary for translation and handling. If it was not a bill, it was highly probable that is was some official government agency explaining in exquisite detail that you forgot to register at your local Office for Foreigners - - and then you could tip your head in that doggie way that indicates confusion and wonder - - if they know I am a foreigner why are they sending me stuff only in Japanese or German? Yet, I deviate from my topic...
(A quick note before I continue: In London we did get some Junk Mail, however it was unlike US Junk Mail in that it consisted mainly of 1)people putting lots of crap through your mail slot - i.e. not really mail per say, but Junk Hand Delivery, and 2) Real Estate magazines. Nice big glossy magazines showcasing lovely pictures of London flats for the bargain basement price of a decamillion pounds for 1,000 sq ft.)
But getting back to the mail here. These days my mail consists generally of a copious number of fliers for products I have no interest in purchasing and usually cannot figure out who would really want this (a stand alone Amish fireplace heater?), requests for donations to any number of worthwhile charities (but gee golly, I've plenty of return address labels), enough credit card application offers that my shredder is 90% composed of tiny little shreds of paper from Capital One and Citigroup, and of course catalogs.
It's highly likely that I'm preaching to the choir here, but aren't there days when there is not a single worthwhile thing in your mailbox? At the end of a week, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some disparate percentage of my recycling bin is composed of bunkum I got in the mail that I didn't ask for, want or more importantly, need.
(Another note: You may have observed that I did not bellyache about Catalogs. Sadly, I actually missed them in my absence. I've only been back several months, and since then I have been scratching an itch I didn't know was there. I'll get back to you in 6 months when the catalog influx has increased thanks to the wonderful world of Address Sharing. At this point the only thing that concerns me is LLBean. They send out a fair number in a month selling practically the same thing in each one. They must think consumers are stupid and need lots and lots of reiteration before we finally decide to purchase those rubber boots.)
It's about at this point where you are now wondering, "What is her point? Who cares about the mail, junk or other wise?" Well, I'm getting there. It's about an "offer" I got in yesterday's mail. There I was looking for Henry's report card and instead, I got an open-handed slap of reality. Should I still be living overseas, I would not have seen this. It was definitely something I didn't ask for, want, or more importantly, need. It was this: