Nearly all my junk mail comes from spammers these days, and man, those folks are still the hardest-working people on the internet, aren’t they? I get at least 100 pieces of pharmaspam, pornospam and lonelyhearts spam a day. I can’t say I haven’t learned anything from it; did you know that the world’s top-selling erectile dysfunction medication now comes in “soft tabs”? Wouldn’t you think “able to swallow a small pill in the conventional manner” might be kind of a bottom-line test for one’s ability to withstand the rigors of sexual activity? I mean, if you need to gum your e.d. pills, maybe you’ve got bigger fish to fry. So to speak.
I should probably add that spam doesn’t make me as crazy as it does some people. I figure, how long does it take to hit the delete key? It’s a nuisance, but I keep it in perspective.
But the other day I got a piece of junk that had obviously come from one individual. It has 25-count-’em-25 layers of forwarding headers on it. Subject line: PLEEEEEEASE REEEEEAD! IT WAS ON GOOD MORNING AMERICA TODAY SHOW. I actually skipped to the bottom to discover what was so important that more than two dozen people had found it worthy of bugging their friends with. Ready?
“Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. …For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.” And so on: “…two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00.”
Now. I’ve received this before, but not since, oh, 1999. Surely, in the last five or six years, every sentient person with an e-mail address has figured out that Bill Gates is spending his fortune on vaccines for the world’s poorest children, not in an effort to find the internet’s dumbest users. Right? Is there a single soul who believes these anymore? I half expect to find a follow-up note warning me of the Good Times virus.
Anyway, I took a moment to hit reply, and wrote, “I don’t know you. Stop sending me your junk-mail forwards, or I’ll report you to Yahoo and Gmail as a spammer.”
And he replied, and guess what he said? “You shouldn’t put your e-mail in the newspaper, then.” I had a couple of bylines in the Free Press over the weekend, which included my Gmail address.
Of course I don’t know where this guy lives, but if I did? I’d send him a letter, by regular mail, no, FedEx. It would include a check for, say, $32,998, signed “Bill Gates.” On the memo line: “Thanks for helping with that e-mail beta test!”
I mean, it might be a disproportionate response, but it would feel really, really good.