Sunday, 25 February 2007

Junk Mail

It is the sheer volume of bits of paper stuffed into mailboxes that amazes. Little printed squares of paper arrive daily, sticking to the insides of the boxes and statically attracted to plastic so that it is impossible to extract letters without scattering this confetti. And scatter it does so by 6pm, the floor is strewn with the little blighters even as consciencious people try to get them into the bin.

They are pushed through the array of mailbox flaps with robotic precision using a small wooden stick tipped with a rubber ferule, at the rate of 2 per second. This ruthlessly efficient activity is piece work, performed by people riding their bikes around the blocks, quite uncaring of the consequent litter or (likely) futility of the marketing.

For no better reason than idle curiosity, I collected all the non-addressed mail for a few months. Truthfully, I expected the result because the high-runners stand out very early on but in true scientific fashion, here is the breakdown:

Estate agents - 67
Flat Wanted Ads - 55
Replacement doors - 8
Electricians - 8
TV services - 7
Private Tuition - 6
Furniture - 5
Food outlets - 4
Plumbers - 3
Car sales - 3
Manicure / Pedicure - 3
Replacement windows - 2
Video Hire - 1
Employment agencies - 1

The 'private' ads for flats wanted, often promising $20k over market price show considerable creativity, ranging from the factual "we have just married, need flat" to the more emotional "young family with 2 young children need more space". They appear handwritten but are actually mass printed from an original. Actually, I'd consider selling my flat to someone who took the trouble to hand write out 3000 notes and posted them but the copies just join the other mass of impersonal junk mail.

There is also the monthly leaflet from the local MP regarding local activities, open houses, developments and other updates on their hard work as public servants. But that's another story...