Day 53: Today, return all your junk mail.

I’m already doing something like this: my modification of Day 5 – which continues to occur, albeit sporadically, as we don’t get nearly as many credit-card offers as we used to. That bit of subversion only works with postage-paid envelopes, though, mostly because I’m too cheap to use a 44¢ stamp to “stick it to the man.”

«As an aside: I was browsing some comment thread or other over at reddit a few days ago, and someone mentioned sending those envelopes back with a few dozen pennies in them – because the postage is calculated by weight. Now, I’m too cheap to send pennies, but I bet I can find some small rocks. Also, I know I’m using the guillemets in a non-standard way, and I don’t care.»

So, I wrote “RETURN TO SENDER” on all the junk mail that came today – three pieces, none of which seemed likely to contain a postage-paid return envelope – and dropped them in the box with the water bill.

It felt … well, sort of pointless. Certainly more pointless than the “out of order” nonsense, which is already pretty pointless. In that case, I’m at least costing some giant corporation a tiny amount of money, and giving the openers of the envelopes the gift of a moment of absurdity – a chance to say “WTF?” before going back to the tedium of opening envelopes and processing whatever paperwork they contain.

But the junk mail that I’m “returning to sender” is just trash that isn’t being thrown away yet. For all I know, it might get thrown away at the post office – and I feel certain that none of it will make it past the mailroom of wherever I’ve sent it back. It will not land on someone’s desk; nobody will pull up some file with my name on it and note that I don’t want any more unsolicited pieces of trash (or that I want even more pieces of trash, which seems an equally likely response).

No, those envelopes and their contents will get thrown away without ever having been opened – I’m just doubling the amount of pointless work that has to happen before they end up in the trash, that’s all. Maybe I’m still costing the companies tiny amounts of money, maybe I’m helping drive the USPS a little closer toward total collapse. It doesn’t really matter; either way, this exercise in returning my junk mail has made me feel ashamed, and a little dirty – like you feel after you watch a Farrelly brothers movie.

I need a shower.


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