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ASK THE EXPERTS

Real mail is still best way for me

POSTED: July 28, 2010 4:00 a.m.

I’ve been somewhat frustrated as I clear out my mailbox and fill the wastebasket each day. So an article in Sunday’s Gainesville Times caught my eye; it was about the possibility of a “Do not mail” list, like the “Do not call” one to which I already subscribe.

  

The majority of what my very nice mail person leaves for me is stuff which I do not even open, much less read.

  

Thankfully, a number of recent political hopefuls chose oversized (and expensively colored) postcards, so one could read the message almost at a glance.

  

But careful sorting is still necessary with all those white envelopes: some contain bills which can carry a penalty if not paid on time. Although I do have some utility bills paid by automatic withdrawal, I have not yet been willing to forego checking them, and to avoid worrying about identity theft, etc., I haven’t yet agreed to paying online. I suppose I really am a behind-the-times “plugger.” There’s another confession.

  

Occasionally, commercial envelopes contain special coupons or discount offers which could prove useful — even though I seldom get around to using them before they expire.

  

Of course, there is the possibility of a note from a friend or relative or an invitation to a function that could be buried in the midst of the stack.  Wouldn’t want to miss either of those.

  

There are also written reports from specific medical tests or notices of changes in insurance coverage and other important information which might come to me via postal rather than electronic mail, simply because I prefer it that way.

  

Because I have, over the years, contributed to a number of worthy causes and continue to support, in a limited way, certain ones, I need to extricate the thank-you acknowledgement for tax purposes.

  

It is, in fact, such contributions that form the main cause of much of my junk mail — or as the post office designates it, bulk mail.

  

Every charitable organization must sell its mail list and those recipients must also sell theirs (and apparently no one ever deletes a name), because I receive solicitations from organizations that I have never supported and others to which I, or my late husband, may have donated to 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, I sometimes receive two requests from the same organization in the same mail.

I, and many others, have complained loudly about the waste: perhaps 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce the wasted paper, and landfills are being clogged with it. The general public is generally fed up.

  

But the newspaper did present a rebuttal. The postal service declares that it is the cheaper bulk mail rates that keep that service viable. And although we find it distasteful to pay almost a half-dollar to mail one first-class letter, that amount may actually be a bargain considering the convenience of sending and receiving necessary, important and even desirable information.

  

Not only are jobs in the postal department affected by the amount of bulk mail, but a direct marketing association estimates that several million jobs are involved in its creation and distribution. And those “worthy causes” must receive enough in donations to pay employees, as well as sustain their operations because they keep on soliciting.

  

I am not yet willing to depend on computers and special cell-type phones as my only communication methods — although there are predictions that such will soon be the accepted, perhaps the exclusive, norm.

  

For old codgers like me, however, we will probably just learn to live with the frustrations.

  

And there is no “Do not mail” list.

  Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.
 

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