Sunday, November 8, 2009

Catalogs

'Tis the season, already.

Soon after we moved to Vermont, we were inundated with sales catalogs. Part of the cause may have been our children, who had to travel far to join us for Christmas and reasonably decided to save space and time by having gifts mailed directly to our house. As with mice and fleas, for every catalog you see, a hundred more are on the way.

We became especially sensitized to catalogs because in our new location, any waste that we don't compost we have to take to the dump. And “dump” is a misnomer for a place where you do penance for your non-sustainable lifestyle by handling every single piece of waste material you have produced and classifying it according to some (I'm not kidding) fifteen categories: cardboard, box board, newsprint, newspaper inserts, magazines, phone books, office paper, clear glass, green glass, brown glass, tin cans, aluminum cans, and a number of different plastic categories--PETA something or other. All this in the sleet and rain and blizzards and summer heat.

The catalogs added pounds to our dump load. Also, because my husband saw “Alice's Restaurant” at a critical age and became sensitized to the dangers of throwing items with your name and address into the dump, every single piece of paper has to be scrutinized for personal information. As you know, in catalogs this involves not only the address label on the cover, but the information on the ordering form that is cleverly concealed inside the book.

All this made me angry enough to sign us up on-line on various “do not send” lists. I also made it a point, every time a catalog arrived, to immediately call and ask to be taken off their mailing list. This took a lot of time, a lot of listening to inane music while on hold, a lot of conversations with strangers of various national origins. The catalogs kept coming, but I persevered. Eventually, the torrent slowed down to a trickle, then all but stopped.

But around this time of year, a few catalogs start to appear again, like field mice looking for a winter home. I call and am reassured that my name is being taken off the list. “Nevertheless,” I am told, “because catalogs are printed in advance, you may get another two or three issues that are already in the pipeline.”

What kind of idiot do they take me for? I wasn't born yesterday! This is just the marketing department's ploy to make sure I get my full allotment of catalogs before Christmas, regardless of my objections. I can imagine the catalog marketers laughing at my feeble efforts to defend my house from their intrusions.

I don't want to vent my venom on the poor souls who answer the catalog phones. But asking them to pass my complaints on to their superiors is worse than useless. I feel weak and taken advantage of. Resentful, too.

The holidays are almost here.

6 comments :

  1. i'm with you--if i'm going to shop online, i'll shop online. i don't need or want the catalogs. it's not quite as dire for me, though. we recycle, but we can toss the catalogues in with other paper and magazines, and then just haul it to the curb.

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  2. (This comment is from Indigo) First, I love catalogs (and thank god I do, because they keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach). I hate shopping online—it takes too long. I use the catalog to order online. This system works great for me.

    The person on the phone isn't really lying to you. OF COURSE several drops of the catalog are printed at once.

    But it is frustrating to get mail you don't want. I certainly get catalogs I don't want and I do try to limit them to the ones I do want (when I finally closed that other PO box, I was hoping to get fewer catalogs, and I think I am!). And it is frustrating to get several drops of the same catalog, what with all the trees dying, but as long as people order something (finally!) on the third drop, this stuff is going to keep happening.

    Bureaucracy sucks. (Right now I really hate insurance companies.)

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  3. Indigo, as friend and mother of catalog writers, I empathize with the other side.

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  4. What I find most amusing is trying to figure out why I get this or that catalog. What did I order, from where, to make the people at History Posters dot com or whatever think I need their catalog...

    But like Laurie, our recycling is less of a penance than yours. And the rare non-slick catalogs go in my compost.

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  5. I used to like the J. Peterman catalog, for the drawings and the stories.

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  6. I used to like catalogs, but then I began ordering everything online. We don't get that many catalogs anymore -- and I'm happy about that. I do love my Penzey's though.

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