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.

Posted at 10:34 am in Same ol' same ol' |

18 responses to “Spam.”

  1. John said on November 15, 2006 at 10:43 am

    Bad mo jo to messing with spammers…you need to keep your karma on the sunny side of the street.

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  2. brian stouder said on November 15, 2006 at 10:59 am

    I agree with your view of spam – nothing to get overly worked-up about, and easy enough to delete….except when you go away for a few days, and then return to the product of (63 worthless spams + approximately 8 ‘real’ emails) X 5 days = 350+ scroll/click/sort/delete/repeats!

    Most are plainly obvious, but the subject lines are becoming more clever – utilizing “re:____” to make you look twice, and so on.

    Anyway – next time the subject is anything related to air travel, I have a story problem that specifically reminded me of Mary….and (while we’re at it) the next time Big Love or The Wire comes up, I have a comment

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  3. Dorothy said on November 15, 2006 at 11:37 am

    And we haven’t discussed The Wire in WEEKS and I’m itching to hear your theories and reflections.

    So that ass thinks just because your e-mail address is in the newspaper it’s fair game for spam? What a putz.

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  4. Marcia said on November 15, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Because I sometimes write about religion, I get biblical spam interspersed with the porno ones. This makes for some interesting subject line flow.

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  5. alex said on November 15, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    A lot of stuff still gets through but I got rid of the vast majority of it by routing all of my e-mail through my Web hosting service’s spam filter. Every day I get a quarantine summary, where dozens of Resplendent Russian Ladies and Cialis Soft Tabs and the like are awaiting deletion with one simple click of the mouse. In the last two years I’ve yet to see a single piece of legitimate e-mail get quarantined here.

    I was missing out on a lot of real e-mail because I was too busy deleting spam and feeling so overwhelmed by it all, particularly if I let it go for more than a day. I don’t know if there are services like this available for the average consumer but believe me it’s worth whatever they might charge.

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  6. mary said on November 15, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    I was having that same issue at home. I was deleting or missing real emails because I was getting 200 or more spams in a day, and sometimes a real email would be buried among the Nigerian oil minister’s mesages or the offers of penis enlargments and breast enhancements. A friend of mine once said that if he could get an enlarged penis and large breasts he would never leave home.

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  7. mary said on November 15, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    …and I’m not sure about the image that cialis soft tab conjures. I’m no teenager, but there is something a little creepy about some ancient geezer with a thirty six hour hard on window.
    It’s just me, I know…sorry.

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  8. Dorothy said on November 15, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Mary you have such a way with words!!

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  9. brian stouder said on November 15, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Well, and really – the idea that America has a gaping need for erection pills STILL surprises me; I’d have thought we really need ‘cold shower’ pills (if anything).

    Seems like all those millions of ‘ED’ pills would induce an “all dressed up and no place to go” problem…..

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  10. Mindy said on November 15, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    The two or three spam emails I get per day are written in Chinese. One of the very few advantages to being really, really out of the loop is being the next thing to spamless.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on November 15, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    I always told the wife, If I get a 4-hour boner, I’m not calling the doctor, I’m calling EVERYBODY.

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  12. mary said on November 15, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    I’m trying to imagine being on the receiving end of one of those phone calls. What would I say?

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  13. mary said on November 15, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    On the other hand, as a mother of boys, I can tell you that boys barely out of toddlerhood make announcements about their privates. Older son once said to my neighbor, ” I love my penis.” Younger son on a walk once told a guy who was watering his lawn, “Hey, I have a penis.” The guy replied, “Me too!” The four hour boner phone call would be the adult equivalent of this I guess.

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  14. Bob said on November 15, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    … there is something a little creepy about some ancient geezer with a thirty six hour hard on window.

    I AM NOT creepy!

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  15. mary said on November 15, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    Oooh, sorry Bob. I didn’t think you were an ancient geezer.

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  16. Dorothy said on November 15, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Another story about little boys and their admiration of their privates. My nephews, in the bathtub, about 5 years ago. Zack was 6, Dylan almost 4:

    Dylan: Mum, what’s inside here? (while handling his scrotum) Feels like balls rolling around in there.

    Zack: Yeah, and when you squeeze them they go ‘WHOO WHOO!”

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  17. brian stouder said on November 15, 2006 at 10:47 pm


    Dorothy – THAT was funny!! Of all the things I might otherwise say in response – I s’pose discretion dictates leaving it at that!

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  18. mary said on November 16, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Speaking of stupid spam, we got one last night that was remarkable. It offered me thirty dollars for every delivery of cash I made for them to people who had unclaimed monies. All I needed to do was send them my bank account number and scanned copies of my drivers license, passport and social security card. What a deal, eh? They needed that account information to deposit these unclamed monies into my account, you see, and they needed all the ID for security reasons. I’m so flattered they would trust me to not just spend the money they’re depositing in my account for delivery to other people.

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