Friday, October 9, 2015

The Mail Box

Dear Family and Friends,

Carol was the consummate shopper. She was always on the lookout for a gift that someone would enjoy, buy it and save it for the appropriate time. She scoured catalogs for just the right gift. I don't know how many catalogs she subscribed to, but I felt sorry for the mail person. It was not uncommon to receive 2 or 3 catalogs per day. Not long after moving to Gilroy I replaced our mailbox with a larger one. The mail person thanked me. It is taking months and months to get off the mailing lists. I am down to about a catalog per week. Can you imagine how much paper the mail person has carried to our house? Probably a small forest of trees. I know, I am joking, but it was a lot. There are now a few days where I don't get any mail and I have the opposite feeling of being ignored. There is something comforting about receiving mail, even if it is junk mail. At least someone or some program knows you exist.

Which brings me to thinking about our digital existence in the databases of the world. Carol's digital existence is still going on…however in interesting ways. Updating our joint accounts and closing Carol's checking and credit card accounts was straight forward. It took about two days where you met face to face or did it over the phone. So that mail communication stopped very quickly. But canceling her catalog subscriptions is taking months. I have been working on it for about ten months now. It turns out she has several aliases. How they come about is mysterious. In one she picked up my middle initial. In others she is known by her first name or middle name. Each permutation is a unique person in the business world's databases to which they send a catalog. It doesn't seem to matter that they are all to the same address.

There are companies that sell name databases and catalog companies often buy them. So Carol's digital existence has a life of its own as it gets shared, bought and sold. So, canceling catalog subscriptions can be seen as an exercise in futility but her digital existence is slowing fading in the catalog world. 

Of course there are other companies using name databases. Carol's magazine subscriptions have expired so now she is getting letters to renew with special rates and credit adjustments. Then there are those looking for donations…"your free gift is enclosed." This is the time of year for changing medical insurance. One day last week Carol received seven offers for healthcare insurance programs. There is an irony in seeing an offer of health insurance addressed to a person that has passed away. Then there are the offers for life insurance, even more irony. A few days ago Carol received an American Express card offer. The tag line on the envelop said, "Your life is about to get even more rewarding." I thought, they don't have a clue.

Yes, our digital existence and the mailbox have an interesting relationship that has a long tail, it fades very slowly. I am surrounded by reminders of Carol and I am slowly getting used to them. I didn't realize how much the mailbox would be one of those reminders. I scan the mail looking for bills or something that may need a response…the rest considered junk mail…half of it addressed to Carol…It would be helpful if the business world could update their databases somehow…sigh. 

Once again, thanks for listening. The next post will be titled, Lessons from the Cemetery.

Until then, grace to you ….. George

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