The Mystery in the Mail
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.
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…
A PRESS RELEASE.
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.