I was once a mailroom supervisor, a job I remember fondly. For the record, I hate junk mail. I think it’s a waste – a waste of money, resources, my time, and trees.
Anyway, I worked for a company that processed mail orders for software upgrades for over 60 software manufacturers. Many of the customers of these companies must have considered the advertisements and upgrade order forms they received junk mail. Judging by the stuff that came through our mail room, those people hated it too. Have you ever sent anything in a post paid envelope that wasn’t what the company expected to get? Here’s a partial list of stuff that came back in those post paid envelopes, called BREs (Business Reply envelopes).
- dirt, rocks
- grass/lawn clippings
- broken glass
- newspaper articles, circular ads
- religious materials (lots of this)
- pornographic photos (usually just nude body polaroids, no face visible)
- clippings from porn mags
- ads for porn videos
- handwritten pornographic letters
- handwritten love letters
- pieces of lead weight – flat and envelope sized
- brown, almost rotten green beans, complete with ants
- the original offer/order form defaced or torn up
- photocopied pages of jokes, nice stories, etc
- paper clips on twisted rubber bands strung across wire (designed to rapidly unwind and make a rattling noise when the envelope sides were separated at opening)
People would always make the envelopes as heavy as possible because BREs are metered by weight. We could always tell by the thickness and weight of an envelope that it contained something other than the reply order card. Sometimes it’s nice to get something funny, but there’s alot of weird and sick people out there and opening the mail could make you nervous. Anything that was obviously something other than paper was opened very carefully by one person, located some distance from everyone else. We did need to call in the postal service unit that handles suspicious mail occasionally.
With all the Anthrax shit that’s been going on, I’d be very nervous about doing a job like this now.