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Rick's List - The Unbearable Similarities Between Bugs and Unasked-for Emails Edition

Back in Texas, where insects stroll through dwellings like marching band drum majors — regardless of whether you sleep in the backroom of a bait shop or live like a rajah next door to Jerry Jones — exterminators stay exceedingly busy. To paraphrase Clarence Darrow, bugs in the south are "forever busy and need feeding." (Darrow was talking about ignorance and not centipedes, but ...)

Anyway, one morning after I threw a shoe at a Paleozoic-style cockroach on our bedroom wall — and the creature picked it up and TRIED IT ON — I called Mark, our regular bug-destroyer. He said he'd come over as soon as he could "genocide the hell out of some ants at an ice cream parlor in Casa Linda."

Shortly thereafter, reeking pleasantly of chemicals and death, the exterminator liberally sprayed the interior of our rental house with industrial-strength poison, and I took the opportunity to ask if he could quantify the worst bug infestation he'd ever seen — hoping, of course, he wouldn't chuckle and say, "I'm STANDING in it!"

Instead, he told me about a convenience store where the interior walls of the storage room were nothing but damp sheet rock. He tore through one panel and beheld, through the pipes and electrical wiring, a cement exterior wall. At first, he thought it was painted black — but no, it was just covered with thousands of cockroaches.

I'm thinking of all this not because we have a bug problem. People in New England who think they have a bug problem — ticks notwithstanding — have no idea what a bug problem IS. (See Rick and Eileen's List of Why We Moved Out of Texas. "Bugs" was #2, right after "Jerry Jones.")

No, the wall-of-roaches visual popped in my head because it reminds me of the infestation of unbidden emails crawling through my inbox. Thousands! I'm not talking about spam but rather missives from arts organizations, record labels, publishing houses, art galleries, orchestras, and sundry other entities who've somehow, in that computer-y way of exponential creepiness, managed to obtain my address as a humble arts writer at a small Connecticut daily. 

It's spiraled into nonstop madness. My "you have mail" alert — a chiming sound that I can't figure out how to silence — rings like a meth-stoked Quasimodo yanking the bell rope at Notre Dame as though all the demons of hell are flapping towards him with wings of fire.

And I ... Can't. Unsubscribe.

Oh, the email-senders make it SEEM like you can.

1. "Click here to unsubscribe." CLICK.

2. Then, "You're almost unsubscribed. But first, tell us WHY you're unsubscribing." Impatiently CLICK on the first option, which is usually "Never asked for subscription."

3. "That's not good enough. We put the easy answer first because we knew you'd click that. Give us the REAL reason. But trust us, it won't be good enough."

4. Or the friendly approach: "We sure hate to see you go. Sure you don't want to reconsider?" That tactic reminds me of those signs when you're leaving a casino: "It's not too late to U-turn and get a special parking place — right next to our handy pawn shop."

5. This reminds me: Would you like to subscribe to the Rick Koster Newsletter?


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