Mr. Robert F. Ka steps on the soapbox

Mr. Robert F. Ka steps on the soapbox by Bob Karolevitz I�ve got enough free address labels to last until the year 3000.

It turns out that every charitable organization � and I apparently hear from all of them � includes a packet of stickers with their pitch for a donation. I can�t possibly write enough letters or pay enough bills to use them all up in my lifetime.

It made sense when one or two of the drives sent them, but now they all do. Success imitates success, I guess, but when they all use the same gimmick, it borders on the ridiculous.

I remember when a World War II veteran � who was also a printer � came up with an idea some 50 years ago to produce labels in his basement to make a little cash for himself. He sent them to all the names in the phone book � and the money came pouring in.

That was in Washington State, where we lived at the time; and as I drove by his house, I marveled at his way of making a few bucks when a lot of us ex-G.I.s were struggling with a similar problem.

I think he enclosed �help a veteran� letters with those stickers; but the people � who had been addressing their own envelopes � bought the personalized tags because he had invented �a better mouse trap.�

I thought it was a good idea then, and eventually so did a lot of professional fund raisers.

I don�t know if that started it, but in time March of Dimes, Paralyzed Veterans, the American Cancer Society, etc., all got in on the act. That�s how I ended up with so many of those stick-ons.

I wouldn�t mind it so much if they got our name right. Some labels come printed up with Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Ka, because they couldn�t get the rest of it on the same line. Now we know which organizations share (or buy) the same lists because Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Ka appears on many of the stickers, though they come from different places.

All of which brings me to the subject of calendars.

Every mail brings more of them, so that Phyllis and I won�t miss a single day in 2005. Some of them come addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Ka, so we also know that the label and calendar-senders are in cahoots.

(Maybe I should change my name to Ka, and that would solve a lot of problems. But I digress.)

Many of the calendars come with a message which � if we so desire � we can make a contribution to help pay for the so-called �gift� that we didn�t order. Or want, for that matter.

At least with phone telemarketers we can cut them off with a don�t-call-us restriction, but the direct-mailers are free to come into our mailbox any time they have the postage.

I have enough address labels and 2005 calendars now, thank you, so please don�t send any more � especially to Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Ka.

We�re all entitled to get up on a soapbox once in a while, and this column was my opportunity. Of course, Phyllis says I could have written negatively about the Iraqi war or some other subject of real importance.

Instead I vented my spleen on the mild topic of address stickers and unwanted calendars.

Oh well, to quote Andy Rooney: �We can�t be funny all the time.� Or tilt with important windmills!

� 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

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