Friday, May 23, 2008

Do Not Delete

There were 120 e-mails waiting for me when I got to work this morning. Some of these messages are so important I received literally dozens of duplicates. Many people would callously delete them without so much as glancing at their content but that’s just plain rude. If someone’s taken the time to compose a message for me I give it the respect it deserves.

The first one, for example, happily announces that Dr. Piero Nete, a responsible attorney, has been looking for me. Turns out a distant relative died tragically three years ago leaving five million dollars (US) and I am the sole remaining next of kin. In a panic I call my parents but they are both alive and well. I forward their details to Dr. Nete because, after all, it should go to them first.

“Your degree is just a phone call away!” the second through twelfth mails announce. The degree is offered by a “prestigious non-accredited university”—which is fine by me; there are some accredited ones that are not prestigious. This online bastion of education eliminates everything from books to classrooms to homework to actually teaching! They issue a degree “based on my present knowledge and life experience.” How’s that for consideration of my fast-paced lifestyle? I shall call them as soon I decide which of my life’s experiences deserves a degree.

A colorful mail informs me the VIP Casino jackpot is at $10 million. Who couldn’t use $10 million? But to prove how important my e-mail is to me I shall finish going through them before I sign up.

Next is a mail from Shirley (Hi Shirley!!). I don’t actually know any Shirley’s but clearly she knows me as my name is in the subject line (and it’s my e-mail name, so I’m sure we’re chummy). It only has the word “hi” in it and a link with no explanation. Looks like she accidentally hit the send button too soon and I hate to ruin the surprise so I’ll wait for her to resend when she realizes her mistake.

Now, I am suspicious of the next one. It’s about my order #529510 from a pharmacy. Apparently it’s not unusual for me to order from online pharmacies, sometimes several times a week. I never remember actually placing the order, but it must be legitimate because their e-mails always list the order numbers. I’m assuming the medications are for a memory disorder I have. None of the deliveries has arrived yet (I’ve been waiting years for some), but my credit card hasn’t been billed either, so I don’t think I have grounds to complain. This next email however is from a company listed as (I kid you not) In my family that kind of problem was always solved with grandma’s special mixture of aloe and onion juice, so why would I need to order something?

A couple more e-mails with my name in the title. One of them is “2 me,” the other is “4 me.” I am 2 BC 2 open them now (U C, I F 2 P) so I’ll w8 and open them l8er.

Okay I’m back, and while I was gone another 47 e-mails arrived and each must be given due attention. I could get a prestigious, if non-accredited, degree in this.

Well here’s a turn-up…my loan has been approved! Although it’s followed by ten mails informing me my mortgage application is awaiting more information from me. I’m so confused, am I approved or not? The VIP Casino might well negate the need for both of these so I’ll leave them for now.

The next big thing on the stock market will be Honest Ron’s Airlines. I have a limited time to take advantage of its soon to be “soaring” profits if I “get in at the ground level” before it “takes off.” I call my portfolio manager but he can’t locate Honest Ron’s market ticker symbol. I tell him to call me when he does.

Oh hey, the VIP Casino jackpot has apparently gone up, $17 million. AND I get a $500 line of credit. I’m going to wait and see if it hits $20 mill.

The textuous style of the verbose mail next in line is a run on sentence of no small proportions but very small font that gives breath little chance and I think but can’t be certain as to its intention to incite me to overthrowing a government and then tangent the battle between nature and science without use of a scythe but wait you can’t end a sentence with a comma of which the young people of today are clearly suffering a lack of grammar skills and I could not agree more up the revolution my friend with a haircut would be nice,

My heartstrings are being tugged by the next one. It’s the story of Ernest Dillwedger—no, I’d never heard of him either. Born the youngest of 26 children to a poor Southern family, he suffered from extralaevuslobeius (an extra ear on the left side). He achieved his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, only to have his extra ear blown off by a stray land mine during a dogfight (between two greyhounds). Traumatized by the loss of his abnormal hearing, he hopes to undergo a revolutionary surgery where his big left toe will be grafted to where the extra ear once was. Any donation, however small, will help. How can I not do something? I forward him the tip on Honest Ron’s Airlines; that alone is worth more money than I can give.

Good news for me though, I’ve won a $500 gift voucher for groceries. Also an iMac, a flight on Jetblue, and a years supply of Lego. All free. Interestingly these mails all have missing graphics. Where a picture should be is one of those little red Xs telling me it’s missing. With great foresight though they have put links in for just such an eventuality: “if picture does not load click here.” Unfortunately most competitions in the US contain in the small print that you have to be a US citizen to enter and I’m not, so I have to let these go. Shame.

Missed my chance on the VIP Casino! The jackpot has dropped to less than $7m. That’s what greed does to you.


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“Undeliverable: Sorry, this mail cannot be delivered. Follow the link and reset your password for access.” I can’t understand all this computer jargon; I forward this to the tech department.

And so it goes on. Most of these mails offer an unsubscribe link but why would I want to? E-mail is a key means for us to know what goes on in the world and so few people take full advantage of it.

As much as I warn against quick deletions of possibly important mails I must state that online vigilance has its place. Scam artists exist online as well as in the real world and some e-mails that look legitimate are anything but. Right here my last e-mail purports to be from my bank. It contains the correct security picture from my profile and the correct last four digits of my account number. I referred my roommate to the bank a month ago and apparently he opened an account so I get a $25 reward if I click to verify. Well that I just deleted. Free money from my bank, what am I, naïve?

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