A Good Letter Is Hard to Find

But Solicitations Aren’t

By Marylyn Cork

I sit here and watch it rain. After a whole summer last year without any rain I vowed I would never complain about it again and I’m keeping that promise. So far this March, I have been able to spend three afternoons out of doors raking parts of my lawn—in blessed sunshine. There’s still plenty of snow in view. The nights are so chilly, it’s slow to go. But little is left on my south-facing slopes or the fields below. That’s what’s nice about my place in the spring.

 If it’s not the rain, what’s the beef?  It’s the little things that bug me. Like the mail delivery. Mail has been trying my patience all winter, because it’s been so unreliable. I’m kind of attached to my mail, although I’m not bothered by its occasional unreliability as much as I am by the petitions it delivers. They upset my blood pressure.

Solicitations for money make up most of my mail. People don’t write letters anymore. I’m complaining, yes, but a friendly letter is rare. Online social chit-chat just doesn’t do it for me—it’s either frivolous or suspect. Telephones aren’t to be trusted either. I don’t have a cell phone. I have never liked spending time on the phone and especially not now, when the conversations are hearing-assisted. The captions are either slow to come up or whoever’s putting them up for me to read cannot understand what’s being said—and even if they can, I can’t. It could be that part of the trouble is a phone line so old it most likely needs to be replaced. But my place is near the end of the road and all my neighbors have cell phones—not much incentive there for the phone company to lay a new line.

So the mail is important to me, and sometimes something comes that piques my interest. I say “sometimes” because what the mailman brings is seldom anything I want, just dozens of solicitations from charities asking for money. These letters come in batches, hardly ever just one or two. And sometimes “demanding” is a more appropriate description of their tone than “asking.” Today there were five. I can’t donate to all of them. The best I can do is to send a few dollars to those organizations that particularly appeal to me. Yes, I’d like to help all that are reputable, but I can’t. I think being generous is why I rate so many pleas in the first place.

It started out small. A few requests came from causes I really had an interest in. Those organizations sold my name and address to other charities, an action that has always seemed to me to me a bit counterproductive. From there, it snowballed and there appears to be no end to it. During a given month, I may get two or three letters a day from the same organizations.

Don’t let anybody tell you that you can write “Refused” on them and mail them back free. It doesn’t work that way. You have to buy postage. If you write them a request to take you off the mailing list, that’s fruitless, too.

When I asked about all this at the post office, the clerk said, “The only thing you can do is to toss them in the wastebasket. You aren’t alone.”

 Fortunately, I have a daughter-in-law who works at an elementary school. I give the free address labels and stickers that are sometimes enclosed to her. I could never use them all up if I were to live forever. She says the teachers clip the artwork to acknowledge their students’ diligence. 

“The kids love them on their papers,” she told me.

We all know that many charities do good things and need financial help. I just resent the way they hound people and never let up. At the very least, there should be a way to get off a mailing list you don’t want to be on.  

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Marylyn Cork

About Marylyn Cork

Marylyn Cork has lived in Priest River more than fifty years and in Bonner County more than sixty years. Writing since she was nine years old, she retired as editor of the Priest River Times in 2001. She enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, camping, and traveling.