I once commented to my sister about her “interesting relationship with her mail”. I said it after wondering for quite a while about all the piles of unopened envelopes and catalogues and various sundry paper things scattered around her kitchen and pantry. She just waved her hand in a dismissive gesture and made a sound that clearly signaled disgust. At the time, I didn’t understand her attitude. Mail was cool! Mail was news from home! Mail brought pleasant and unexpected surprises!
I have to say now that I have totally come around to her perspective on things.
I don’t know how most people deal with their mail, but I take the short walk to our mailbox about once a week on average. On the way back, I stop at the paper recycling bin placed strategically between the mailbox and our front door to dump all the advertising flyers, uninteresting catalogs, and anything addressed to “Household” – that is about 95% of it. For a few fleeting seconds, I reflect on the energy and resources (trees!) used up for the completely senseless conception, gestation, birth, and long journey of these materials, none of whom will ever fulfill their transient purpose in life. Upon arriving at their destination, they go unheeded and are summarily dumped. As I shut the lid of the bin, I hear the pathetic dying echoes of their calls: “SALE!!” – “Act NOW while the offer lasts!” – “For a limited time only!” – “Buy One – Get One Free!”
The rest of the mail gets carried into the house and added to the pile on the front hall cabinet -to be dealt with at some un-predetermined future date. The only exceptions are differently colored envelopes and anything I had to sign for. The pile grows for several weeks until it reaches a height that threatens to topple over. At that point, I find some time to deal with it all. With the waste paper basket at my side, I slit open the envelopes one-by-one and sort the contents into groups. Toss, File, Pass On, Deal With Soon, and Deal With Yesterday.
The first group, Toss, is self-explanatory.
Anything from a bank or insurance company goes into the File pile, whereby “file” means “throw it into that wooden box in the office and deal with it later”. The wooden box also includes all of the receipts, work contracts, bank statements, etc. from the past 11 months.
Pass On is really just code for “let the husband handle it”.
A lone-standing bill or one paired with only a single reminder goes onto the Deal With Soon pile.
The Deal With Yesterday pile is usually reserved for bills with two or more reminders including penalties or vaguely threatening references to possible legal action. I say “usually”, because today, a letter from the Finance Ministry was added to that pile. In a paternalistic tone, they expressed their disappointment in me for not submitting my 2014 tax returns yet. They set a new deadline for next Tuesday.
They’re trying to ruin my four-day weekend.
Now, instead of wallowing in lethargy like I did last weekend, I am going to have to deal with the contents of the wooden box.