Monday, September 01, 2008

Sifting and Sorting

By Pauly
New York City

Four months of mail. The Macy's bag was overflowing with snail mail. Next to that bulky bag stood a small tower of boxes. More mail. Four months worth had accumulated while I was on the West Coast. My mother fished out a couple of pay checks at the end of July and mailed them to me. Aside from that, the remainder of my mail went untouched.

I have a process, something that I do every few months. My flight to NYC usually gets in late around 10 or 11pm. I spend the late night hours slowly sifting through and sorting the mail. I dumped the entire bag on the floor. A small mountain formed in front of me. That was the largest mail collection that I had ever seen. 16+ weeks worth. Most of it was junk mail... but some of the more important items are often disguised as junk mail so mail thieves pass over it.

The process is slow and boring. I quickly make two piles... big stuff (like magazines and large envelopes) and letters. I stacked up several issues of various poker and gambling publications. I currently write for them or wrote for them in the past and still appear on the comp list. I noticed that there were random issues of Rolling Stone Magazine in the mix as well. I rarely buy magazines, but sometimes I'll pick up Rolling Stone in an airport. It seems that my mother had some airline miles expiring and she could exchange those for free subscriptions to several magazines. I don't recall the conversation, but she insisted she asked me if I was interested in free magazines and I must have blurted out "Rolling Stone" as one of the few publications that I'd actually read.

I also got a couple of music newsletters such as the return of the Grateful Dead Newsletter. I put those aside (with the Rolling Stones) since I'd actually read them. The poker magazines got tossed.

Then there were all the clothing and merchandise catalogs; a random camping place that featured hunting gear, a high-end men's fashion store I never heard of before, a travel store, and several catalogs from J Crew, LL Bean, and Lands End. Those got tossed as well.

Then there were the alumni magazines. I thumbed through my high school and college rags. Apparently, Salmon Rushdie is a resident writer at my university. He appeared on one of the covers. I glanced through my year of graduation to check up on my former classmates. At this point, everyone is having kids. And I noticed an interesting trend... former classmates where having twins or triplets at an alarming rate. I'm in my mid-30s and I assume that my classmates have been trying to have children for a couple of years without much success so they all turned to fertility drugs. Now instead of one bundle of joy, they have two or three bundles.

I wonder when those alumni magazines will highlight the members of the NKC... "No Kids Club." Maybe I'll send in a picture of me smoking a big fat spliff?

So I obviously sorted the magazines into two piles; one pile is the garbage pile and the other pile is made up of magazines I'll keep and read.

The last of the big envelopes included different financial information such as statements, prospectuses, and other bullshit. I opened up the latest one and ignored the rest. I realized that I have stock in Activision and also own Williams, which is the rival of Grubby's slot machine making company.

The big envelopes and magazines were easy to sort through since everything was labeled and I didn't have to open it up. Next up were the hundreds of smaller envelopes.

American Express sent me a ton of spam and junk mail. They took up almost 45% of the mail. There were only a couple of statements, but the most of the stuff was spam trying to get me to sign up for various programs. I also got multiple offers for a Plum card, a Blue Card, and a Platinum Card. They sent me one each over the last four months. I already have a Gold card and ignored those offers aside.

I fished out only two checks. Sort of disappointing but then again, my mother sent me a bunch when I was still in Las Vegas. Also, I purposely trimmed my client roster over the last six months. I'm no longer a slave to others exploiting my name and my work... but the result is that I make less money and discover less and less checks than I used to get.

The bills are never fun to find. Some were old bills that I already paid, and a few current bills stuck out. I always clench my teeth when I see bills.

A couple of friends already sent me checks to cover their payment for Pauly's Pub football pool.

Then there was the rest of the spam. Tons of banks sending me applications for credit cards. A couple of car dealerships sent me info on car loans and their latest deals. I got plenty of shit from charities and other religious organizations that want my money and donations. I did get one letter from my high school thanking me for my generous donation for the annual fund. The amount placed me in a special category. It's like a pissing match between alumni. Who can give more? Ah, you gotta keep the Jesuits and the Illuminati happy with a fatty check once in a while.

If I knew that a specific envelope was junk mail, it got tossed out. I had to carefully set aside the ambiguous envelopes and open those up. 99% of those were shit, but one of them contained some vital information. I was glad that I was thorough and didn't blaze through the mountain of mail.

The process took two nights of work. I also got excited to open up all of the packages. Christmas in late August. That's what it feels like for me. After several weeks or months on the road, I return to find random boxed up gifts. Some from friends and some from different PR and marketing companies. And the best things are stuff that I ordered online months ago... and forgot.

I had several new books to read and already ripped into Dark Mission. There was the box that I sent from LA that contained a bunch of random shit that I didn't want to carry in my luggage... mostly booty and receipts from the World Series of Poker. I got a new CD from the Avett Brothers courtesy of their PR chick and a couple of other promo CDS from bands I never heard of before.

I spent the last couple of days soaking up New York City again. I wandered the streets of my old neighborhood. I bumped into Vinny the Barber and he told me about his recent trip to Atlantic City. I popped into the Greek diner for a breakfast sandwich and the old Greek guys were both there and mentioned how they missed me. I also saw the doorman who works in my mother's apartment building. I told him that I was in Vegas for a bit.

"Wow, there's a lot of hot women in Vegas," he mentioned.

I sort of nodded. I'm so over Vegas at this point that I tune out when people start talking to me about that city.

I got to watch a couple of Yankees games on my brother's couch. I missed doing that. We ate some of my favorite foods such as the local pizza joint.

I also headed downtown on Sunday. I wandered around the Village hopped up on over the counter cough medicine. I have a lingering cold that won't go away. It had been several months that I rode the subway. I missed reading books on the subway and finished off one book that Human Head recommended called "Technological Society" by Jaques Ellul. It was written over 50 years ago... but some of his words have significance today.

Just one more day to relax before it's time to move onto the next assignment.

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