Only two items in the mail today: the water bill, which I expected — actually, I expected it yesterday, but things happen — and a tiny envelope with my name scrawled on it, a southside return address on it, and a full-fledged first-class "Forever" stamp. How tiny, you ask? Near the very bottom of Postal Service acceptability, 3.5 inches high and 6.5 inches wide.

I looked at the water bill first, because it's going to cost me something. Lucky for me, it was about $7 less than last month, because I didn't go over 3,000 gallons for the month. That's fine. The usual statement about bulk waste drew a smirk, because they announce the next two collection days, and the first of them is, um, yesterday. So minor fail on the part of the Utilities Department, but not enough to incur any serious wrath, and it's due on the 21st, which means it will get paid around the 15th.

I considered pitching the little envelope, but hell, the guy, if guy it be, did apparently go to the trouble of hand-addressing it, so the very least I can do is take a look at it, and as regular readers know, I am awfully fond of doing the least.

Inside was a yellow three-by-five card with the following pair of sentences, inevitably in SCREAMING UPPER CASE:


CALL ERIC AT 405-[number redacted].

As low-budget operations go, this seemed to be one of the lowest. I duly looked up the return address, which belongs to a small accounting/tax service in the largely Latino Capitol Hill district, and, well, the last name fit the ethnicity. Now we're not exactly overrun with Hispanics in this part of town, but they're very visible along the arterial roads, and they make up about 30 percent of the students at the grade school down the street. (We're not an enormously wealthy area; about 80 percent of the students get subsidized lunches, and the most bucks-up residents have presumably gone to private schools.) So I didn't see "Eric" as some sort of block-buster or anything, but I was wondering if I had been singled out. (I do, after all, have the smallest house on the block, albeit on the largest lot.)

A quick note to Nextdoor revealed that no, I hadn't been singled out. Still, I felt something vaguely resembling compassion for the poor guy, inasmuch as he'd had to write all these cards by hand. (No, it wasn't mechanically reproduced, or if it was every single one of them had the same typo in the first line.) And this, I decided, was probably less annoying than the twice-a-month letters that come in from insurance agents who want to lowball me for a couple of years and then charge me a couple of body parts thereafter. I have no idea if "Eric" is going to transact any business in this neighborhood, but hell, at least he tried. And if he flips a house or three, well, it's the way the world works these days.

The Vent

  9 March 2017

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