So, yesterday morning I was sitting at my desk, working away when there was a knock on the door. It was the postman, and the postman was delivering one of those cards that say, “Oh, hey, we have a mystery package for you, but the person who sent it didn’t bother to pay the correct postage, so you’ll have to drive all the way to the sorting office, cough up the dough, and then find out what it is!”

(Aside: why do Royal Mail do this? I mean, why not just BRING ME THE FREAKING PARCEL, and allow me to pay for it right then and there, when I have the chance to, you know, LOOK AT IT and decide whether it’s something I want to pay money to receive? Wouldn’t that be easier than the postman coming to my door with a card (a waste of paper, and the earth’s precious natural resources!), then me getting into my car and driving to the sorting office (a waste of fuel! And time!) to ask ANOTHER member of Royal Mail staff (a waste of manpower!) to rummage through the mail, and find the parcel? It’s not like they’re not in the business of delivering mail ANYWAY, after all. It’s not like they’d have to sit scratching their heads for hours, thinking, “Oh my, how on earth will we accomplish the task of transporting this package to someone’s door?” Or, OK, given how much they struggle at this sometimes, maybe they would…)

Anyway, I got this card, and immediately I was torn. My natural curiosity, and, indeed, greed, made me desperate to know what was in the mystery package (What if Christian Louboutin had suddenly decided to just randomly start sending me shoes, like he did in that dream that one time?), but my natural laziness/stinginess made me reluctant to haul ass aaaaallll the way to the sorting office (I realise I’m making the sorting office sound like it’s in outer Siberia here. It’s actually just a few miles down the road, but, you know, lazy.), just in case the Mystery Package turned out to be something not worth paying £1.10 for. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, curiosity won out, so this afternoon I made the arduous journey and presented myself at the sorting office counter clutching a shiny £1 coin and a 10p piece which I’d stolen from Terry the day before.

The first clue that all was not as it should be came when, rather than disappearing into the other room and returning bent double under the weight of a hefty package, the Sorting Office Man simply reached under the counter and produced an envelope.

An envelope.

Can’t really fit shoes in an envelope, can you? “OK,” I thought doubtfully, “Maybe it’s just stuffed full of cash. Cash works for me too!” I stared at the envelope. It stared back at me, blankly. Once again, I was torn. It seemed unlikely that there was anything in there that I’d actually want to PAY to receive, but then again, you never know when opportunity’s going to come a-knocking, do you? Maybe the envelope contained notification that some wealthy, yet distant, relative had died, leaving me their entire fortune, plus a slightly creepy house in the middle of nowhere: a house with a CHILLING SECRET? Perhaps it was a letter from a publisher, saying, “We’ve read your blog and even although you only have five readers, we’re so impressed with the cunning way you weave tales about your teeth, that we want to turn it into a novel, which we will call TEETH: A Tale. Please sign the enclosed contract so we can transfer £1,000,000 into your account immediately for the exclusive rights.” Perhaps I just read too much chick lit?

With these thoughts racing through my mind, I slapped my £1.10 on the counter, and excitedly ripped open the envelope to find…


Yes, a PRESS RELEASE. You know, one of those could-totally-have-been-sent-by-email pieces of marketing designed to persuade me to write about someone’s product?

(Another aside: Why are people still sending press releases through the mail? Is it secretly 1994 again, and I just didn’t notice? Doesn’t it stand to reason that, as a blogger, I’m likely to be in possession of a computer and an internet connection, which would allow me to receive these things by email? Wouldn’t that be easier for everyone concerned? WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE TREES?)

So, we’ve now reached a stage where I am actually paying to receive press releases, apparently. And not only that, I’m driving across town to pick them up, too. Maybe I could actually start WRITING them for the companies concerned? And I could PAY THEM for the privilege? Then I could publish my own press releases on my sites, and, I dunno, maybe I could pay them again at that stage? Because that’s the only way I can imagine it being any MORE inconvenient for me to be marketed to.

In closing, I feel I have to add my usual disclaimer here: I know not all PR people do things like this. I’ve worked in PR myself, I know people make mistakes. Hell, I make mistakes every single day. Sometimes they involve setting things on fire.

But damn, I was disappointed it wasn’t shoes.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! I’ve been feeling a bit like I’m talking to myself lately, which has put me off writing here a bit, so it’s always lovely to hear from someone new!

      1. Like a scene from the musical 1776 "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?" I think you underestimate your readership. I have been reading for a long while now. I don't know why I have never thought to comment before nor do I know why I am commenting now if only to say don't stop writing. Your blog has a slapstick, "I love Lucy" episodic feel to it. It is a joy to read. I'm surprised you have yet to be discovered by the networks. Maybe someday you will be. Thanks for sharing your blog…don't stop. Can't believe I referenced a quote from 1776. lol

        1. lol!

          I think the problem with a blog like this is that it's quite hard to establish who's actually reading it as opposed to who just Googled the phrase "I hate gingers" and landed here randomly. I'm glad people are still reading, though, it genuinely makes my day when someone leaves me a comment (as long as it's not one of the "You suck!" ones, obviously!).

    1. Ha, if only I'd thought of that!

      I did send them a quick email asking to be removed from their mailing list on account of how I can't afford to pay for press releases, but so far I haven't had so much as a "Oops, sorry about that!"

  1. Ugh. I worked in PR for about 10 years and that was back in the 90s and even then we didn’t MAIL press releases!

    This is like a fight I have at my work where I’m trying to persuade them NOT to spend all this money on mailing something that people want RIGHT AWAY! Hence why we email it!!
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..Walk Away The Pounds =-.

    1. We used to sometimes send them by FAX – I am THAT old!

      It does always boggle my mind when I get paper ones. Not only would the fact that I'm a blogger suggest I'd probably prefer email anyway, most of the paper ones I get are on this really expensive paper, in a fancy card envelope etc. And the vast majority of them go straight into the recycling, while I think "Wow, what a complete waste of money and trees!"

  2. How disappointing! And such a waste of time and money. I have been reading your blogs for over a year and this one is my favorite! (I also LOVE the shoe challange series!) Please don't be discouraged because I'm listening (well, reading but you get the message). I'm almost embarrased to say that I check for updates several times a day. Almost embarrased, but not really because it's no one elses damn business why I keep hitting the refresh button. Keep it up because I don't know what I would do if you didn't.

    1. Oh, don't be embarrassed, you've just made my day 🙂 Thanks for commenting – and I'm glad you've been liking the Shoe Challenge, too: I just cleaned out my wardrobe last night and realised how many pairs of shoes I have to go – am panicking slightly!

  3. If you send something in the US with the incorrect postage, they return it to you with a big, red letters that tells you that you're a fool and didn't put enough stamps on it for it to go anywhere interesting. Perhaps Royal Mail should investigate more appropriate mail practices?

    1. I was actually just saying to Terry that it should be the law that senders have to put a "return to…." address on the back of the envelope so that it can go straight back to them if it's underpaid. It seems really weird to expect the recipient to pay when they don't know what's in the thing!

  4. Ah, you could still send them a long rambling letter that they'll have to spend about five minutes reading before you get to the point and ask them not to send you press releases by post because it's wasting trees. And to show how green you are you could write it on a piece of old cardboard (perhaps from a shoe box) to add weight to the envelope that you're not going to put a stamp on.

    btw, don't you already have a house with a chilling secret?

    1. Sadly, the chilling secret is no more, as The Man From the Council confirms our rodent guests have now left us. I have heard The Voice a couple of times recently, though, so maybe the secret lives on…

      1. Ha, I missed your "The Voice" article – seeing as it's never happened again, I wonder if Nigel reads this blog and since then chose a different room in which to conduct his business…

  5. Wow the last time I received a press release through the mail was when I was working in local radio over 20 years ago. Okay, now I feel ancient.

    Amber, I recently discovered your blog via a RT on Twitter and I plan to stick around. We seem to have a lot in common, lazy, ginger and definitely NOT a morning person. Oh, but not the shoe thing. You would die if you saw my shoes.
    .-= Karen van Wyk´s last blog ..And a Wonderful Night Was Had by All… =-.

    1. I normally get a few of them per week through the mail, and it never fails to puzzle me. I mean, it’s not more convenient for me, and I can’t imagine it’s more convenient for the PR firm, so God knows why some firms are so reluctant to use email! Maybe they think it has a better chance of getting the person’s attention, which this one definitely did, albeit in as negative a way as possible!

  6. I don't understand how the post office can accept a letter if it doesn't have enough postage attached to it. I don't think that happens here… either that or Australia Post just checks those letters in the bin

  7. I’m with Jasmine….I check everyday…how nosy does that make me?!?!

    So please keep writing (typing?) as it’s vair entertaining and your shoe haulage makes me able to justify my shoe haulage to the hubs…”I “only” have about 55 pairs which is waaaaay less than Amber” I say frequently!

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