Essays on memoir, music, and more from Beatrice M. Hogg

Spam Guard is On


How did I get on these lists? Almost none of these messages have anything to do with MY life, but I get over a hundred a day. I decided to spend a few minutes of my oh-so-valuable time on reading the headings from a page of spam. Spam – I used to like Spam™ (the canned meat product). It made for a tasty lunch treat, even though the other kids looked at me funny. Maybe I’ll try that new turkey Spam™.

Back to the topic at hand. Recently, I printed out a page of spam messages from my e-mail account to see what relevance they had to my current lifestyle. But I will not give any of them free advertising by mentioning their names. Just because I like Spam™, I’m not stupid or anything.

“Find new flirts!” I have been on a few online dating pages, but not this one. (At least I don’t think so.) They all lure you in by telling you how free and easy everything is on their website, tempting you with photos of handsome couples frolicking, dining, or getting married. “This could be you,” is the silent message. If you enter your information, after a few days you may get alerts indicating that members of the opposite sex are interested in you. Want to get to know those flirts? Want to look at their photos? Well, pull out your wallet – that is going to cost you. But I don’t want to gamble with my hard-gained money on the odd chance that one of these “flirts” may not actually BE odd. Or maybe it is a free site. Unfortunately in the online dating world, “free” means “loser.” I joined a free site once. The photos were amusing. Jail photos, photos obviously taken decades ago, photos taken in front of a mirror in a messy apartment, photos with ex-wives or girlfriends edited out – everything was there except photos of nice looking guys. I saw a photo of a man with his dog and wanted to date the dog. One desperate single father wanted me to raise his daughter. I’m not saying that I won’t try online dating again, but it won’t be with a site that sends me a spam message every day at 9:04 am.

“Earn your degree today!” I already have two degrees. But I can get started in a new career in just a few short months. I don’t want to work in the fast growing medical field or the fast growing computer field. And how would I pay for this new degree, when I already have a fast-growing student loan that I won’t have paid off until I am 102? I get at least four new degree messages a day, three of them from the same school. Is this really the ideal recruitment method? Aren’t the sides of buses, the backs of comic books, and ads during afternoon talk shows bringing in enough new students?

“Find expert home repair companies right now!” I haven’t owned a home since 1984 – the year, not the book. On a good day, I live in an apartment. On a bad day, I live in a homeless shelter. And even if I had a house, I would probably solicit recommendations from other homeowners for any household repairs. I definitely would not be contacting a company that sends me messages every day at 10:50 PM. Are the providers of these home repairs the same people who attended those schools that send me spam at 9:53 AM? Is home repair a fast growing field?

“Test drive a new car!” Everyone is having sales on new cars. Did anyone check to see if I had a license? The payment of the aforementioned student loans does not leave much room for car payments. The nonpayment of the aforementioned student loans does not gain me any positive points on  my credit rating. But all I need to do is come into the office and all obstacles were will be eliminated. Sure they will. That’s how my last car got repossessed, which is public knowledge and can be retrieved on the Internet. There are no car dealerships open at 5:11AM. Virtual test drives don’t count.

Which brings me to my favorite ads – the ones for male enhancement products. I am neither a male nor do I need any enhancement, at least not any enhancement that a little pill could provide. The prices are reasonable, the results are guaranteed, and no longer would I have to wonder about being a real man and pleasing my woman. Do these advertisers know or even care that I am a woman? Or are they assuming that at 9:39 AM, I got out of my bed and rushed to my computer, hoping against hope that there would be some magic elixir I could get for my husband or boyfriend that would turn him into the man he hoped to be or once was and could be again? I’ll cross that bridge when I find my soul mate on a online dating site.

This is just a small sample of the offers I receive daily in my spam folder. I could also spy on my partner, clear up my skin, find a rich lonely man, and fix my teeth – all starting with a click of a mouse. I can send photos of my breakfast to 362 of my closest friends on Facebook, but I can’t eliminate having to read about male enhancement pills several times a day? Now I’m tired, distraught, and hungry. Turkey Spam™ sounds good about now…


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