I can hear ye and I can see ye. And I don’t need life insurance to pay for the cost of my funeral, and neither do I need supplemental insurance to co-pay my Medicare coverage. These are both solicitations/direct mail pieces I’ve received in my mailbox in the last week. I can’t help but wonder why? Have I gotten older before my very eyes without regard to my actual age? Have I somehow become a qualified applicant without realizing the consequences of my living so many years beyond my original “13 month to two-year” prognosis? (I always place quotation marks around my prognosis as an indication of its having been said by my oncologist, and as a bit of a dig since here I sit and write eight years and two months post diagnosis.) Or do the people sending the direct mail pieces know something about me, my household and my neighborhood that I don’t?
Not that I really want to think too deeply about why I’ve been bombarded with these presumptive age-sensitive solicitations but, the piling-on effect of the past two weeks has stoked my embers. It’s not as if being targetmarketed burns me up or increases the temperature under my collar, but it does cause me to think and consider; always dangerous. As Moe Howard of The Three Stooges said to brother Curly in a typical two-reeler story line: “Every time you think you weaken the nation.”
I wouldn’t say the onslaught has been at all equivalent to the volume mailboxes see in the weeks leading up to an election, however. The materials I’ve received lately have felt more personal than the usual and customary ones that arrive before an election promoting a candidate, a cause or an amendment. Those political pieces merely wanted my vote. The pieces I’ve received of late wanted my life. Not literally of course. But they want me, not exactly a pound of flesh, but more than a piece of paper (computer entry, actually).
I haven’t had the opportunity as yet to speak with any of my neighbors to find out if the entire neighborhood was similarly solicited or was it just yours truly, the cancer patient whose survival has raised a marketing flag? I mean, with all the hacking/unauthorized access to phone numbers, addresses, bank accounts, Social Security numbers and private medical information, I don’t suppose it’s beyond a hacker’s reach to secure lists of “terminal” (I also put quotation marks around ‘terminal’ because again, it’s how my oncologist described me in late February 2009, and as yet another dig because I’ve lived so long beyond ‘terminal’) patients who quite frankly might be more open to/in need of and sensitive about certain conditions/situations/circumstances not necessarily characteristic of the general population.
Or maybe these direct mail pieces had nothing to do with me (I’m not a narcissist, really; just sort of writing for semi bemusement), but are simply modern-day equivalents of the old town cryer – without the bell? But with a similar goal: to reach as many people as possible, hopefully under favorable circumstances, not in the square, but rather in the privacy of their own homes.
Naturally, I tossed all of it. I didn’t take offense though, nor am I the least bit defensive about it having landed IN MY MAILBOX. It’s simply sound marketing. Find a neighborhood/zip code with the demographics that match your product and voila, a connection is made, supposedly. No connection here however, merely fodder once again for a column. (Besides, I have life insurance and I’m too young for a “med supp.”).