Junk mail is called direct mail by the USPS. That doesn’t make us feel any better when we receive it. 33% of all mail delivered worldwide is junk mail which produces more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, more than the world-wide effluvium of one billion belching cows. Junk mail adds a billion pounds of waste to landfills each year. Since no one wants our waste, we’ve been sending it to Montana where it’s been piling up and blocking their view of the big sky.

My mailbox is where junk mail goes to die. It’s the fabled elephant’s burial ground, but instead of the valuable ivory, it’s an occasional un-cancelled stamp or maybe 2,000 gummed labels from the French Snails are not for Dinner Anymore PETA campaign with your real name because they got it from the check you sent 26 years ago when you were young and idealistic. You can’t use the labels because no one has called you that for years. The most egregious kind of insert in a beg letter is a small denomination coin. A con, based on Americas collective neurotic guilt trip.

Anyway, I’m on every mailing list there is because I signed a petition to save a whale in 1978. That whale told a manatee who along with some other smart mammals went on to form a non-profit and lobbied some rural district lawmaker who thought whales vote because the return address on the paperwork was N.E. Mammal, High Tide, Portsmouth NH. If there’s a law of diminishing returns, this isn’t it. Sign one petition to save one snail darter your name gets passed around faster than a hot rumor about congressional indiscretion.

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I went to the mailbox. This latest missive had no company name, just a return address. Inside was a single sheet that said in bold letters, “Supplement your government benefit of $255.” I’m thinking what benefit could that be? Why does the government, who has been taxing everything I own or buy, all of a sudden, want to give back? What is it, an election year?

It started off, “Dear senior citizen”; OK, now I know they got my name from AARP, who sends out an application right before your 50th birthday, as if you didn’t feel bad enough at turning 5-0, they want to rub it in. “We are proud to announce a senior citizen final expense program to help pay for what social security does not pay for your final expense.

If you expect to live to 80 they’re giving you 30 years to get ready. They don’t even know me and want me to have a big funeral. I’ll pass….ooh… wrong choice of words. I’ll just go with the government benefit.

I wondered what I could get. $255 is not an extravagant service. It might have been when it was first offered in 1935 but costs have risen. Today, for that amount, it might be a candle and a burlap sack. If you died right before Valentine’s Day you couldn’t get a dozen roses. They might have to hold it on group night. You know, stack the freezer until they get a quorum.

That special is like a BOGO Buy One Get one. For $255 they may not even wait until you’re dead. I don’t want someone there looking at their watch while I’m choking on a chicken bone. In other words, I don’t want to be pulled kicking and screaming to my own funeral. That’s bad taste.

I guess it hasn’t caught on because no one opens the junk mail envelope that says, Dated material; open immediately! To opt out permanently: Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. Let’s see if that works!

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Buzz Fleischman is a Humorist and singer/songwriter of ‘irregular songs for regular people’ and a character actor who has appeared in and voiced TV commercials and radio. He currently hosts and produces the Joltradio.org interview show “On the Record and Off the Wall’. http://www.joltradio.org/artist/on-the-record-and-off-the-wall-with-buzz-fleischman Buzz was the humorist on the NPR affiliate WLRN for 12 years and has been a featured speaker for significant local and national conferences, conventions and organizations. He is a docent at the Curtiss Mansion and is fascinated by the history of Miami Springs and its interesting residents. http://www.theradiobuzz.com

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