Friday, June 1, 2012

Prisoners Need Cards Too

Way back before the age of the dinosaurs email, there was thing called paper and pen. And sometime people had these things called 'pen pals'. This concept involved people separated by long distances who would write letters back and forth using paper and pens. Strange, no?

When I was young (10ish) I had a pen pal. I think we got connected through Girl Scouts somehow. But she lived in Australia and we sent letters and little doodads back and forth for a couple of years then eventually stopped. Then, when I was a young teenager I saw some flyers for pen pals at a greeting card display at the store. So I picked up a few and sent them off hoping to get some cool new pen pals.

Now, I don't know if the greeting card company was completely clueless or what, but I really think that what they did was just browse through the phone books of several other countries and randomly pick names. This is what I got:

  • A woman in England who had no idea how I had gotten her name and address. She didn't seem to mind and we sent a few letters back and forth, but it wasn't like she wanted a pen pal so things soon fizzled out.
  • A man in Switzerland who also had no idea how I had gotten his name and address. Likewise, he didn't seem to mind, but since he had no idea where I had popped up from it soon fizzled.
  • And the best of them all, a young 20-something guy from Australia. Seemed normal enough at first until I found out he was in prison! Yes, prison. He had 'mistakenly' killed his daughter, apparently in a fit of rage or something. Nice. Thank you very much greeting card company. Very responsible of you to match up a (too) young girl with strangers in other countries, completely at random, and for combing the prison systems for suitable pen pals. WTF! Needless to say, that pen pal was dropped like a hot rock. Wow!
To this day I am still baffled as to the point of that program. Did the card company think it was a good idea? I can see the executives sitting around a meeting:

Exec1: Why don't we do a pen pal program? People like pen pals.
Exec2: Great idea! We can put out flyers for people to request pen pals. Then they can send them our cards. We'll make lots of moolah!
Exec3: But how do we find the pen pals?
Exec2: Ah, just get some phone books and pick some names. We can assign them randomly. It doesn't matter. We just need to get people to send cards to someone!
Exec4: The only phone book I have from Australia is this prison directory.
Exec2: Who cares! Prisoners need cards too.
Exec3: Very true. And let's try to match the criminals up with children. That would be fun! See what other fun connections you can make.
Exec1: You guys rock! See to it!

Needless to say I dropped the idea of having a pen pal. And now, I don't even need one! I have you, loyal readers. I can blather on to my hearts content. And if there is no one out there reading this, well, I can pretend there is. Who will tell me different?


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