Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How I Plan to Pay Off My Law School Loans

I got a chain letter in the mail. No, not an email. An actual, honest-to-god chain letter on actual paper in an envelope addressed to me and mailed with a first class stamp. I didn't know people still did this. I kind of figured they'd moved on to 419 Scams.

This letter doesn’t actually resort to threats of imminent harm to myself or my family members should I fail to send the required copies within seven days. Instead, it relies on the innate greed that exists in all humans, describing in great detail the lavish lifestyle the sender—or maybe it’s supposed to be the original writer, since I’m supposed to photocopy the letter, etc., etc...—has achieved via his/her earnings from this pyramid scheme, uh, I mean “legitimate investment opportunity”. It also includes the requisite language about how the plan is “authorized” by Postal Regulations Numbers XXXX and YYYY. I briefly considered pulling those regulations up in Lexis Nexis just to see what they actually say (Did the writer choose numbers at random? Do the regulations actually exist? Do they have anything even marginally to do with sending chain letters?), but my idle curiosity isn’t enough to overcome my innate laziness.

The new twist on the old story is that the person obtained my name from the Direct Marketing Association of America. This is nakedly admitted to in the body of the letter and I am kindly provided with contact information for DMA and two similar organizations, so that I can obtain a list of names and addresses to send my own letters to. Presumably, this is so that you aren’t ostracized by friends and family who might actually tell you what they think about someone who would fall for this scam.

If you go to the Post Office website, there is a lovely warning about this type of letter scam, if you know where to look for it. I’ll totally turn this letter in the next time I head to the post office, too.

It’s funny, though, because as a child, I participated in several post card chains. Each person was asked to send a post card to the six people on the list and theoretically would get a bajillion post cards in return. Each time, I received a handful of post cards—not the enormous mountains of them that the letters promised, so I was always a little disappointed, but still, for a ten year old, five post cards from far-flung places is still pretty cool. I actually ended up being pen pals with one of the post card senders for awhile. The memory of the little thrill I got from opening the mailbox to find mail! addressed to ME! from someplace far away! means that I always send things to my youngest cousins when I go abroad. Now that my friends’ children are starting to get to an age where they would be excited by getting mail, I’m looking forward to mailing post cards to all of them, should I ever get to go anywhere again, that is. I wish that SOMEONE would include me in a round of Flat Stanley—I have friends in all kinds of crazy places that I can send it on to, several of whom are teachers. In other countries! Pick me!—but so far, no luck. I did come close once, when a girl I worked with had a nephew whose class was doing a Flat Stanley, but the person who was supposed to send him to me sat on it too long and Stanley didn’t have time to visit my family in Germany and the friend studying in Denmark and her brother living in London, plus whichever other random people we could dig up in other countries. I’m telling you, my friends and I could give a second grade class the Flat Stanley of legend. Especially now that I have friends who have friends who go to places like Jordan and Pakistan and Korea and Taiwan...


At 12:22 PM , Blogger luneray said...

I got one of those chain letters too. Blast from the past, I tell you.

But I never had any luck with the postcard chain letters of my youth. Never received a single one. *sigh*


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