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Save the World

Okay. Dinner time here is not like a Norman Rockwell painting of a Father Knows Best family conversation. It is an evening dose of two Seinfeld reruns displacing the local Spokane or Seattle news, which is invariably mostly bad. (Kind of a counterpart to the New York Daily News when I lived back there and it was referred to as “The Daily Rape.”)

But, I digress. Seinfeld has become similar to Rocky Horror Picture Show for us in that we can speak some of the lines before they are spoken on-screen. Unlike Rocky Horror, however, it is interspersed with commercials and from a comic routine by a Seinfeld character, we are drawn into a heart-wrenching two minute ad for the Humane Society showing animals badly mistreated, all with woebegone desperate expressions and a voiceover pleading for donations.

A few years ago I succumbed to a mail solicitation from the Humane Society and sent them some money. That was a mistake, even though I did get a sheet of address labels featuring happier canine countenances.

Not long thereafter came my membership card and other stuff, including a suggestion that I up the ante and send them more money. A week later came another solicitation again with address labels. The difference was that while I was free to “donate what I can” on the first one, this one had a line of various dollar amounts.

I had sent the Humane Society ten dollars when I “joined.” This had $16.00 as the suggested amount of my donation. If ten bucks makes me a cheapskate, don’t be too quick to judge: at that time I was also inveigled into joining the National Audubon Society. I am not a bird watcher, but an avid nature observer and I have been writing a column monthly for Wild Phlox, the North Central Washington chapter of Audubon newsletter edited by Teri Pieper. I felt I owed it to the society to be a member, even if I was not getting paid.

So I sent them ten dollars too. This led to a cornucopia of goodies, like stuffed plush birds, totes with bird pictures on them, autographed by the birds their own selves: “Cardinal,” “Chickadee,” Red-Breasted Mattress Thrasher.” Week after week the mail brought forth these tempting offers.

Of course I got my official Audubon card, and collateral propaganda and then there were two mailings minimum each week, Audubon and Humane Society. I had forgotten I had sent money also to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They were less diligent about supporting the postal service with weekly mailings.

Less than a month after I joined Audubon I got a letter that my membership was about to expire.

Long ago I had given up on donations to Sierra Club, both for some of its political stances as well as the jackets, totes, backpacks, and other goodies that were given for any amount donated.

Over the years I have realized what a dummy sucker I have been. I don’t remember the catalyst communication that came from Humane Society, but I wrote them a letter asking them to fire me as a member and quit sending mail. I told them that the money they were spending on promotions could be better used to help the animals. The response was a nice, maybe even personal letter the gist of which was that only ten percent of the solicitations brought forth any contributions. It did not mention cheap bastards like me that only sent them a tenner.

As the mailing lists incestuously bring forth more offspring from diverse realms, I have finally resolved to keep the address stickies and toss the rest. I might like to help woebegone walruses, pathetic polar bears, children around the world with an encyclopedia of illnesses. It’s too much, and for every dollar sent two more organizations are created to further fill the mailbox.

Now it’s become a pleasure to donate to local organizations, thinking, perhaps naively that they are not gonna sell my name to a mailing list company. But there was one with “Save The New Bridge” on a envelope yesterday. It quickly became fire-fodder.


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