An e-mail account is like a garden - it has be kept up and carefully pruned, lest it become overgrown and unsightly. I have at least a couple of accounts that I no longer use. In fact, it's been months, maybe years, since I've even checked them.
This weekend, I decided to take stock and make sure I hadn't heard from any long-lost friends, received invitations for exciting opportunties or won a million dollars. (No on all accounts, sadly). There were 1,641 messages, dating to Jan. 13, 2006, and all but a handful were spam. (If a spammer sends you spam and you never see it, have you still been spammed?)
Here's what I found:
I missed out on a ton of FREE (yes, it's usually in ALL CAPS) stuff - a Walt Disney World vacation planning kit, samples of Tide, Neutrogena and Noxzema, JetBlue airline tickets, (they're still flying, right?) shipping from Lands' End, 250 business cards, a Rachael Ray Celebrity Chef Package, a year's worth of Huggies diapers (No thanks!), pajamas from Victoria's Secret and 14 cans of Pringles. My NASCAR fan package has been waiting for me since August 2006. (I wonder if it's still there or if it revved up and moved on?) Next to free, complimentary appears to be the most popular word: doughnuts, a laptop, a Home Depot gift card were all mine for the asking if only I'd known.
Apparently $500 must be an eye-catching amount of money, because lots of retailers wanted me to have $500 gift cards: Wal-Mart, Best Buy, American Express, Target, Macy's, Amazon, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Circuit City. I mean, who didn't want to give a me a free $500 gift card? Practically no one. And I missed out on all of them.
I also missed out on lots of helpful advice about finding a good school, buying a home, quitting smoking, sleeping better, speaking Spanish, increasing my odds of winning the lottery, practically robbing a bank, (I think "practically" is the operative word here!) getting wrinkles out of my clothes and making my first investment.
Then there were lots of helpful inquiries about whether I was short on cash or needed an extra $1,500 (Who doesn't?) or felt stressed over bills I couldn't pay or whether I needed a new car. And if I did, I could always work online for eBay or get a quick cash advance, or get help erasing my outstanding debt.
And, to my utter delight, quite a few people expressed a desire to get to know me better - they had a crush on me, or wanted to chat or offered to treat me to dinner at Red Lobster or Arby's or take me on a cruise to the Bahamas.
Black singles, Jewish singles, Christian singles all wanted to meet me. (I've never felt so popular!) There was the more formal "pleased to meet you," and the more informal "Hey, was up?" or the very friendly sounding "Howdy!" For awhile, Ellen DeGeneres really, really wanted me in the audience for her talk show. (Sorry Ellen! My next trip to the West Coast I'm there, I promise.)
Companies also let me know that they valued my opinion. They wanted to know whether I preferred Schick or Gillette, which I thought tasted better, Tostitos or Doritos, who I thought would bring home the gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics, who would win Dancing with the Stars or whether I was interested in American Idol. I had no idea I was such demand as a clairvoyant or an arbiter of good taste.
I'm sorry I missed all of these offers. But the missed opportunity I'm most sorry about was the chance to win my very own pot of gold. (Have you checked the price of gold lately? It's through the roof!) I tried opening the e-mail but it was blank. My time had passed. Sigh. I guess I'll keep searching for a rainbow.