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Category: Trends / Topics: Change Communication

The Mailman (Revisited)

by Dan Seagren

Posted: December 7, 2014

Today the mailbox is radically different than years ago…

Dan wrote about "The Mailman" in December 2012.  That article looked at the requests for charity that can swamp out mailboxes, especially around Christmas. Here, he looks at how the "mailman" is changing.

Years ago, it was virtually always the mailman. Now many women deliver mail. Then, there was the time when we old timers looked forward to the mail carrier. Why? Because there were personal letters in abundance: a postcard from a cousin, a short letter for an aging grandparent, a scrawling letter from a second grader.

Today the mailbox is radically different. While mulling this column over a few times, I finally decided to act. I choose a random week which happened to be in the middle of July, 2014, and carefully looked at every piece of mail. I characterized it into three sections for brevity: Personal, Commercial and Political.

Then I counted each piece each day for six days (there was mail each day). In fact it averaged just under 7 pieces per day. I sorted it into the three sectors. Then I took into account each piece of mail that asked for money. And I subdivided that into the minimum asked for and the maximum solicited (but not necessarily the amount hoped for). Here is my finding:

There were 4 (four) personal pieces of mail.
There were 21 designated commercial (usually solicitations or advertisements)
There were 16 political postings for a grand total of 41 pieces of mail in six days.

For those pieces of mail asking for donations or to subscribe or resubscribe, the grand total came to $506.50 if I would have subscribed to the minimal suggested.

For the total hoped for, not counting the _$$__open for our consideration, either more or less, it came to $1,716.

Since most of these solicitations were primarily aimed at the head of the household, my wife and I often consulted with each other if necessary. Imagine, if we contributed the minimum amount sought, we'd be giving about $25,000 annually to worthwhile causes and endeavors as well as to a lesser number of less worthy ventures. Yes, many causes are not only legitimate but worthy and we often felt that little tug when we had to say sorry, not this time.

Oh yes, before I forget, as our reward for our efforts, it amounted to a scratch pad and a postage stamp. Plus some interesting or valuable insights into a variety of causes. Yet there are limits and discretion as well as affordability. While not causing a casual flipping of a coin but at times a gentle sigh while saying no, this explosion of mail is not always eagerly anticipated.

Although we will not go into the reasons for this proliferation of mail nor in the economic dilemmas it causes, I thought it worthy of a casual, not a scientific, research project which some of you may not have thought of doing yourself.



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Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: December 7, 2014   Accessed 145 times

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