Dear Mr. Occupant

Have  you ever thumbed through the daily pile of junk mail and wondered how you managed to get on that particular list?  Sometimes there may be no connection to anything logical, kind of like the company in question picked the names in the same fashion that some people pick lottery numbers.  In other cases the connection is there, but the path to the original mail list couldn’t be picked up by a semi-truck full of bloodhounds.

Sometimes the connection is so obvious that it is too easy to figure out.  For instance, when my wife and I first moved to our current home, we registered to vote.  One of us signed up as a Democrat and one as a Republican so that we could get literature from both sides.  Believe me, even a Watergate burglar could figure out why political mail to my wife is always on the right side of our mailbox.

At other times the connection can be made because of the curious ways our last name sometimes gets spelled.  When we start to see lots of flyers and catalogs to the “Billybig Family”  we can be fairly certain where they got our name.

What started my latest episode of “Dr. Deadletter – Mail List Sleuth” was that I received a subscription offer for Army Times.  The letter that came with it said that it was for people in the military and their families.  Now I was in the military for four years back when Clinton was trying to not inhale but that seemed like a pretty feeble excuse for them to send this offer almost thirty years too late.  As I thought about it, I remembered another curious incident some time ago when I received an NRA mailing that began “Dear Gun Owner”.  Now, according to my military fight song (“This is my weapon, this is my gun…”) I did have a gun, but certainly not of the sort talked about in polite company.

At that point, I remembered back to a few years ago when I first received a catalog from a place that sells surplus items, including camping, hunting, and military gear.  I’m not a hunter or a camper, but I figured that maybe they got my name from other surplus equipment dealers I have dealt with.  This latest catalog also contained advertisements for knives which rekindled one of my childhood interests.  I also have a fondness for nice wood, so I just couldn’t resist ordering a boot knife with a genuine Rosewood handle.

Sometime after that, I got a few catalogs from various knife companies, and again indulged my boyish whims.  Next, I began getting catalogs from suppliers of camping and hunting equipment and, still later, catalogs appeared for equipment for fire, police, and military personnel.  It was at that point that I made the logical assumption that someone must have figured that if I was getting all of those military supply catalogs, then I must be in the military and in need of a subscription to Army Times.

That, as they say, is the end of the story.  Or at least I thought it was until the most recent genre of catalogs started showing up.  These catalogs come from places that supply materials I didn’t think you could buy, and sell books with titles such as Home-Built Claymore Mines.  Ordinarily, that would give me plenty to worry about but, what really bothers me, is wondering what mail list I’ll be on next.  I’m almost certain that one day my mail will contain simultaneous appeals for support from the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Palestinian Liberation Army.