Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Spam (not the meat) (11/03/11)
TITLE: "Return To Sender"
By Marlene Bonney
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I am an internet research analyst for a company specializing in safety precautions for computer users, so one would think if anyone could escape the world of spam, it would be me. Not true—at least, not yet. I am in the process of eliminating my daily junk mail when the phone rings.
Caller ID reveals “unavailable”, so I do not pick up. I do the same with “unknown”, “toll-free” and “private” numbers, having learned by experience that 99% of these calls are NOT from a friend or family member. My husband, on the other hand, is afraid we will miss a Publishing Clearing House sweepstakes notification or a contest drawing.
“Fine,” I will say, “then you answer it,” unsuccessfully trying to conceal my smile ten minutes later when he is still trying to get the political candidate off the line—which he finally does, at the expense of our credit card.
(At least I don’t copy my brother-in-law’s antics—he has a whistle at the ready and blows it into the mouthpiece when receiving an unwanted call. That, or he loudly yells, ‘Hawoo? I not hear too good. U there? What’s that? Hawoo?’ . . .)
Meanwhile, I am innocently clicking away on my laptop keyboard when my inbox spam folder flashes. I ignore it, continuing to answer legitimate emails. About halfway through my contacts, I accidentally click on my spam folder instead of the send button, thereby losing the message I had just spent fifteen minutes composing.
“That stinks! Why, oh why, didn’t I push the ‘save as a draft’ option?” my blood pressure rising like an overheated car radiator.
I glare at the half-filled spam folder entries, daring any more to pop up. Regardless of my fuming, I decide to dismiss the issue for the time being and return to recompose my email letter, saving it as I go so as not to repeat the previous fiasco. I am almost finished when my spam folder box flashes in bright red, indicating a bulging file ready to compromise my limited hard drive space. I push “select all” this time, not even giving these never-ending streams of porn, pill, and get-rich schemes the satisfaction of scanning their headings. Their diabolical plot to sabotage my time and energy with their bulk offerings has become a war of THEM versus ME.
I go to my trash bin. Good! The latest 400 spasm are still there. I select them all and transfer them to a bogus email account that will return their future mailings as “undeliverable”, thereby filling their own inboxes.
“Retribution time!” I shout triumphantly as I push the send button repeatedly, recalling how my mother would write ‘return to sender’ on pieces of snail mail when the senders had refused to take her name off their mailing lists.
I am now on a roll. I scroll through my “recent history” folder and unsubscribe from all sites I had previously visited. Three hours and a throbbing headache later, I stiffly arise from my chair to answer the ringing cell phone across the room.
“Oh, good, it’s Mandy,” I sigh, recognizing her phone number on the caller ID slot.
“Hi, honey! How’s it going?”
“Did you get it yet, Mom?”
“Get what, dear?”
“Check your email, quick! I forwarded you the winning numbers for the limited-time offers you needed.”
“Huh?,” I faintly ask.
“Maybe you didn’t recognize the email address. I had to use the hotel computer. Hurry! There’s only five more minutes to claim the prizes! Check your spam folder—that’s where it probably landed.”
“Mom, are you still there? Mom?”
Yes, just a minute, dear, I’m getting another call . . .”
I glance at the “unavailable” number and start to click the receiver button back to Mandy, when I had second thoughts and picked up.
“Yes, this is Mrs. Gibbons. No, I do NOT have time to take a survey for you—I’m actually on another call.”
“Mandy, are you still there? I don’t have access to my spam folder right now . . .”
Miserably, I hang up the phone and turn off the computer. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get up in the morning.
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