by Ruth Schapira
We can’t throw them out and we do love seeing our name in print—in every font imaginable, as long as it fits comfortably in a 2″ long space. So, that’s why personalized mailing labels are overfilling my desk drawer. It’s a thing you can never give away. Why do I need to have a permanent relationship with sticky pieces of paper? That’s it, first it’s these labels that I’m having to save and now the US postal service stamps that don’t expire. They both want to cozy up and make a home for themselves here forever.
I know there’s no way, even if I sent 10 letters a day, that I would use up even a fraction of the self-adhesives sitting there, reminding me that I haven’t sent a letter in a very, very long time—in what seems like forever. There are more mailing labels than you can imagine, representing all kinds of animate and inanimate objects: flowers, wreaths, candles, menorahs, baseballs, dinosaurs, stricken animals, sad children. It’s as if you did a search on Google for ‘Images that get people to feel awfully guilty and sentimental so they’ll donate to your cause’ and these are the ones that you’d find.
There was an ethical question that I heard on a radio talk show years ago: “Do I have to donate to a cause because I received personalized mailing labels from them? I do use the labels, (any guesses as to the age of the caller?) so shouldn’t I make a donation?”
“No. You didn’t ask for them, so you’re not obligated. You can use them or throw them out.”
Aren’t non-profits strapped for cash? Every time I get a sheet of these shiny things, I feel like calling up the organization and asking them why they’re wasting precious resources sending me things that will (if I was a self-respecting clutter buster) end up in the trash? Why not just save the expense and put those dollars into the operating budget? In fact, you can forget the labels entirely, and I’ll even up my donation in honor of your prudent spending.
What I’m wondering is, who is actually mailing all of these letters with personalized labels? Not the people I know. Otherwise my mailbox would be filled with hand-written envelopes, adorned with personalized cutesy mailing labels, and displaying an actual stamp in the right hand corner. Instead the mail I get is sorely missing any evidence of human contact, which is why we call it junk, while online platforms nicely call it SPAM (reminding us instead of edible things in cans). What I receive in my post box usually ends up in the recycling bag.
When’s the last time a friend of yours said “I’ll send it to you” that made you think that you’d receive a letter? Since we all know the amount of first class mail we’ve been sending has dropped precipitously (this has been documented in wikipedia, which is why we know it’s true), what’s the deal here? Why the mailing labels for mail no one is sending? Is there some secret DIY site where people are coming with kitschy creative ideas for how to use those 2″ labels?
Wait, here’s a novel idea to make the post office feel a lot better: instead of counting and reporting my diminished mail output, why not track those organizations sending mailing labels instead? I’d bet those numbers sure have picked up. And you can even send me the results of your survey, but only if you’ve attached a personalized label. I won’t want to open anything else.
by Ruth Schapira
Sometime last year, in the eerie middle-of-the night hour when all is still, I awoke to a horrific sound….a wailing unlike any I had ever heard. It was the most pitiful sounding, yet the strongest scream. I couldn’t determine whether it was an animal or a human…which made me feel sick. I had never heard a sound like this before.
The wailing continued as scary images made their way into my brain…maybe a car ran over an animal and it was lying in the street, in terrible pain. What if it was a person? (listen again, no, it didn’t sound like a person). Should I call 911 and maybe they would send someone to put the animal out of its misery? What if there was a hit and run, and it was lying in the street? There are so many deer around, and we’ve had some close run-ins (no casualties thank Gd), maybe it was a little deer crying in pain.
I couldn’t believe my husband was able to sleep through this cacophony of noise and since I was scared enough not to go through this myself, I gently shook him. Shook him again. (Wow, that man can sleep).
“Sorry honey, but can you hear that?”
“Wait, you’ll hear it in a second…” (I definitely thought he thought I was crazy for waking him up at this hour and I was starting to get nervous myself, hoping that I wasn’t hallucinating a version of a bad dream).
“There it is, can you hear that?”
“Uh…you mean that barking noise.”
(Okay, so now you probably think that I am a little hyperbolic, and was hysterical over some dog barking really, really annoyingly. For sure this won’t win me any more points with the dog lovers out there since my last blog was about dogs running wild).
“Yea, that awful barking sound. (here I was, agreeing rather quickly that it was a barking sound so he wouldn’t go right back to sleep, thinking I was nuts).
“Doesn’t it sound like something got run over by a car or something? Do you think it’s a deer? Or a dog? (Stop that, I wouldn’t wish any animal harm).
I think what he said next was a comment, like those men who are disturbingly practical in the face of imminent fear would make, just so he could get back to bed, though I can’t really blame him, after all it was almost 4:00 am).
“Well, we can’t do anything about it now.” (see, I told you, practical.)
Not to be deterred, I got out of bed, slowly drew open the blinds, and checked everywhere to see if there was something in the street in front of our house. Nothing. The next street up. Nothing.
I stayed awake for the next hour, watching my husband fall blissfully back asleep (how do they do that?) and then the sound stopped. Ugh. By now it was almost morning.
Then next day on my way to work, I drove up and down a few streets to see if there was a bloody remnant of the last night’s tortuous sounds. I was compelled. Nothing.
Later that evening, I spoke to my friend and relayed what I had heard.
Without a second’s pause she offered “That was a fox staking out its territory.”
(Are you kidding me? How could she possibly know that? We’re not living in the great plains of Africa, or wherever those foxes live…maybe England since that’s where they hunt those poor things. But here in suburbia?).
But I calmly said: Oh, really? Why were they making that horrific noise? (I guessed she’d know all manners of animal behavior by this point).
“It’s the mating season and they’re staking out their territory.”
“How do you know that?”
“I hear them around here too.”
Well, now I really am thinking that I’ve been clueless all these years and apparently have a lot of guts to put this in a post, since it seems that everyone knows the mating sound of a fox.
Just to satisfy my curiosity, I checked on Google, for ‘sounds foxes make’ (no, not the song silly) and found one on You Tube. So here, you listen to it, (the sounds I heard matches Vixen’s Sound’, the second one recorded) and see if that wouldn’t scare you in the middle of the night.
Please say yes.
The product? Raisins.
The eater/buyer? My four-year-old grandson Jonah.
Let me explain with a story.
Sunday morning Sammy and Jonah declined whole-wheat banana pancakes in favor of much simpler and healthier fare…..yogurt.
So, now that I wasn’t making a fuss over pancakes, I decided to make the experience more special than just putting a bowl full of yogurt in front of them. Instead, I created a ‘yogurt bar’ for breakfast. Next to each bowl of yogurt I gave them a decorated plate filled with a selection of toppings: walnuts, bananas, granola, kiwi and raisins.
Jonah, quickly said “I don’t want the raisins.”
I gently asked why, and he just shrugged his shoulder and shook his head.
I obligingly took them away.
Sammy, just shy of six, asked where raisins come from.
Well, all anyone has to do (even someone as young as Sammy) is ask for a story and I’m there.
I proceeded to explain how grapes grow, the different colors of grapes, and how they can be pressed into grape juice, fermented into wine or dried to turn into grapes.
I talked about the importance of sunshine (thanks Sun-Maid!), and that as the grapes dry into their wrinkly state, the natural sugar in them makes the fruit taste even sweeter.
I said that if they wanted to, they would be able to make raisins themselves*, just by taking a bunch of grapes and leaving it in a sunny place.The more I talked about the raisins, the more I think Jonah regretted his decision.
It was a matter of seconds after I finished the raisin story that Jonah said: “I’ll have some raisins too.”
He quickly chewed them all, foregoing adding them into the bowl.
So, did my story sell Jonah on the idea of taking back his raisins and eating them with such delight?
I’m not sure, but it makes a memorable story.
(You can see how easy it is to dry grapes that turn into raisins here , let me know how they turn out!).
photo credit: by Veronique on http://www.wikimedia.com