Who among us hasn’t received spam? Anyone and everyone who has an email address is a potential victim in one way or another. If you know how to use your filters then your spam automatically gets diverted to the spam folder which you can set to empty a the end of the day, or do it manually otherwise you are bombarded with it at all hours of the day. The down side if automatic filtering, of course, is that some of the important emails land in the spam folder as well. You win some, you lose some.
Then there are all the mails you inadvertently subscribe to by purchasing an item on a website. This is the reason I have a dedicated email account for such online purchases and can empty my spam folder without having to scan them for “real” mail beforehand.
But that is digressing from my original train of thought.
When I first arrived in Berlin and began re-acquainting myself with the shops, online shops, delivery services, and the like, I ended up subscribing to a lot of mailing lists. Some of them have proven to be useful at one point or another, others often go unopened or land in the spam folder.
Spam mail and other marketing tools have evolved over the years to a new level of sophistication. Some will manifest themselves as newsletters, weekly offers for subscribers, discounts for members, and so on. You get the idea. And the spam. Others are downright mean, hacking into dormant accounts of previous contacts to send you some outrageous request for money. As a result there are several websites that you can report these scam spams or check whether others have received them as well. Some well-known ones are always from a mysterious lawyer or banker promising you millions from some dormant account, or a suffering parent who urgently needs money for an operation. Again, these have been around for ages and have been losing their appeal, not that they ever had any to begin with. Whenever I see this nonsense I shake my head in disbelief, wondering what new twisted version they will come up with the next day.
Remember I told you I completely embraced aromatherapy and essential oils in my life? Well one of the newsletters that always pops up in my inbox is from a supplier in the USA. It always begins with “Dear Oily Friends… “ At first I was affronted and scoffed at being referred to as oily, with images of greasy hair and oily skin that leads to decades of skin issues. Once I got used to the idea of being addressed as an oily friend by a like-minded supporter of the cause, I reined my sensitivities in, but continue to feel uncomfortable with the address.
Another mail dated two days ago landed in my inbox from one of my favourite local butchers whom I order from on special occasions… informing me that the German Wagyu was back in stock and they could guarantee it was from happy and humanely treated cows. Hmmmm… my problem with this entire mail? First of all I don’t eat red meat, so their offer was moot to begin with, but the sheer contradictory concept offering happy cow steaks? Someone needs to redirect their marketing concept.
The ones I find really offensive are the spam mails about weight issues or incontinence. Where to people get the information from anyway? I always have to catch my breath when I see a headline “Do you look pregnant?” or “Tired of looking pregnant?”, even better (or for worse) “Let’s blast those flabby arms”. The incontinence ones usually being with “Are you tired of being embarrassed in public or at family gatherings?” – Thank you, I can do that on my own without being incontinent – I have no idea how I ended up on the list in the first place, unless I ordered something for my parents years ago. I keep blocking them but they always find a way around and return with a new sender’s address.
On the (very) rare occasion a spam mail will lead to something big and beautiful, such as the newsletter from the small winery cooperative that I ended up supporting. It is a network of smaller German winemakers who push local produce to local markets. I began to pay serious attention to them during the pandemic when access to other wine suppliers in the EU were not an option. I knew it was a risk to place an order, but I figured that if all else failed I could always use it for hot spice wine in winter or a stew. Lo and behold, I loved the products and the idea of supporting the smaller vineyards, and never looked back.
Every once in a while I will receive an email that proves to be entertaining for the sheer misuse of language or mind-boggling concepts. This morning, for example, I received an email from a local dairy shop that I support. The offer was a 25% discount for a 12 Kg wheel of gouda cheese, or 10% for a 5Kg slice. Excuse me? Unless you run a shop of your own, a B&B or a restaurant, who freaking buys 12Kg of cheese? Where and how do you even store that? If you own a house with a basement here in Europe I can understand that, but for lower mortals who live in apartments? I love cheese and eat quite a bit of it, but anything over 500gms is a problem for me to consume or store. I can’t even begin to imagine what the devil to do with 12Kg and last I checked I was not a refurbished rodent nor am I a reincarnation of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. No, my name has not changed to Remy either!