Opinion: Reading between the coupon lines


Do you get junk in the mail? Of course you do. We all do. And I am getting a little tired of it. I can screen phone calls for telemarketers, and I have a spam filter on my computer, but somebody needs to do something about the clutter in my mailbox.

I’ve given my mailman full authority to stuff any unsolicited correspondence down the sewer. He’s afraid he might accidentally throw out a utility bill. I told him not to worry about that. These things happen.

I know I’m not the first person to write about junk mail, or junk food, or all the junk in my basement. I admitted last year in a column that I once invested in junk bonds.

No one has written about more junk than I have.

Yesterday, my mailbox contained the MoneyMailer, the hefty packets filled with coupons — discounts that are the answer to your every prayer, assuming at least one of your prayers is to find nine different companies that will shampoo six rooms of carpet for $34.95.

There are coupons I usually forget to use, or I can’t find when I order pizza, or I call the wrong pizza place, or by the time I try to use them they are expired, or I really don’t want cinnamon rolls with my pizza.

I noticed a coupon for a one-night stay in a lavish suite that included a luxurious bath and peticure for only $23.00. When I discovered it was a kennel, I knew my wife wouldn’t enjoy it. Oh, wait, I get it: PETicure.

Cleaning is an obsession with the companies that advertise in these mailers. There are always services that clean your air ducts — something I have never done in 30 years of home ownership, which might explain my murky complexion. Now, salespeople will be calling me in the morning, and because I’m an easy mark, strange men will be crawling up my vents by noon tomorrow.

Many dentists use coupons to market their services to potential new patients. Maybe the Novocaine makes them insensitive: “YOUR TEETH REALLY—AND WE MEAN REALLY—NEED TO BE CLEANED.”

Here’s my favorite from the pack, a “personal letter” from a colorectal physician:


Because the YOU was BOLDED, in all CAPS and in italics, I became extremely uncomfortable, which I think is their goal. They made it seem like everyone else in central Indiana had made their appointment already but I was just sitting on my … well, I was delaying the whole process.

Taking care of our health should be a priority. This is a good time to think about required diagnostic procedures, even those advocated in promotional ads. If presidents can form exploratory committees, it’s probably a good idea for all of us.


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