The satisfactions of snail mail

Apropos of the recent GTD hoorah bouncing ’round the net, I’ve been climbing back on the GTD wagon once again. I’m decluttering (GTD and decluttering are one and the same when it comes to snail mail) the dining room table, where envelopes and papers pile up, mate with one another and spawn more paper-cut-inducing offspring. I moved small billpayer’s desk from near dining table to corner of living room that’s the intersection of front entry, garage entry, and stairway. If mail goes there first thing, it never has chance to get onto dining table. Great in theory. Keep yer fingers crossed.

So through the backlog of snail mail I shuffle. I had a strategy for snail mail spammers; I’d write “REFUSED” in big bold sharpie letters on all those credit card offers and send ’em out again. That worked until one time when my postman put ’em in my mailbox with a note “We don’t send these back.” So this time around, I figured, well, they all have business reply envelopes, do they not?

Most of them are addressed to Bankcard Processing Center at a P.O. Box in Wilmington DE. (Business Reply Mail permit No 411).

At first, I just wrote big messages on the letter (with application/response device coupon attached at bottom). “Please remove me from your database” or “please do not send me any more credit card offers.” I signed it at the bottom, and put it in the reply envelope.

After doing that about 4 times, I decided to add the entire contents of the direct mail package, so the original outer envelope, the little rate-sheet insert, and any other stuff went in, as well as the scrawled on “Please remove me from your database” note.

After another half dozen of those (okay, so it’s a big backlog. But at the same time, what with their 0% transfer, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards card, and the United Frequent Flyer card offer and the Miles One card offer, they’re slinging a lotta direct mail my way), I decided to start putting in envelopes and inserts from other pieces of mail I’m going through at the time. The stupid little inserts and sales upgrades from the Chevron bills. The Gas Company notices about Energy savings. The notice for Yet Another New Area Code in Southern California, when 909 begets 951 (surprise!!). Lovely: These sealed business reply envelopes are solid. Hefty. Important-feeling. Expensive feeling. (okay, okay, so the difference between one ounce and two ounces is a matter of 20 cents. But multiply that, and it could end up costing ’em something).

I take a break and then get back to The Dreaded Mailstack, discover yet another cache of Bank One/Bankcard Processing Center/Wilmington DE packages, lamely pleading “Do not discard” on the outer envelope, and I cut up the local Citrus College adult continuing education catalog into a size slightly smaller than a #9 BRE. Now that’s heft! Next, I slice a product catalog in thirds, and send each third in a different envelope. I’m getting rid of two sets of junk mail!

I’m feeling all sorts of things: pride and accomplishment (the flat surfaces show more wood, less paper, after all—or what Archaeologist Hal calls the FoundationCarPet Layer), mild chagrin at my pettiness, questioning my judgement (but really Susan, is this a good use of your time? Uh, and was this a post about getting things done, or was it about getting even with a stupid mindless corporation?), and finally, I shrug and imagine myself talking to some human who picks up the mail from a set of certain Bankcard Processing Center mailboxes at Wilmington Deleware, 19885-5075. “Well, you snailmail spammers, I’ll just increase your cost of doing business with me until you stop pestering me with this paper mailbox vermin.” (and I’ll blog about it so that others may get into the act if so inspired, thereby multiplying their cost of doing business.)

After they get a coupla dozen envelopes from me with the remove requests, maybe, just maybe, they’ll put me on their “do not mail to this person! ever!” list. Long term, if that happens, I’ll have gotten one very important thing done.