Daze of My Life: Label Me Thankful
Daze of My Life
Label Me Thankful
by Kenneth B. Lourie
All right, I admit it. I have used the pre-addressed, self-adhesive labels that many charitable organizations mail out unsolicited as enticements for cash contributions. I'm not proud of my actions, just honest. Really, how could I resist? I've only received labels from at least 25 organizations, everyone from those with mental retardation to the physically challenged, to the spiritually in tune to the entertainment deprived (the USO); and of course senders have also included the police, fire and rescue, and EMTs (and/or their affiliated counseling, retraining and educational wings), as well as many other benevolent organizations providing assistance to those less fortunate than I. I cash-contribute when I can, but more often than not, I can't. And I certainly can't possibly pay for all the labels I've received, nor could I ever use them, if I even kept them all, which I haven't, in two lifetimes, presuming you believe in reincarnation.
But so far as it is known, or has been documented (read Harry Houdini's vow), even if I did come back, it's pretty unlikely that I'd be me again, so I wouldn't need the Kenneth B. Lourie labels addressed to my current location.
Possibly in my next life I might experience a deja vu all over again when I drove through Burtonsville, Md., or passed the original Philadelphia Mike's restaurant in Bethesda (the scene of many return engagements), but it's unlikely I could figure out the reason for the flash of familiarity. So in point of usable fact, the abundance of labels is in no way a solution to a very real problem: return address completion on the upper left-hand corner of snail-mailed correspondence.
If actual labels were required instead of hand-written versions or return-address rubber stamps, I could see the need, but until Big Brother imposes penmanship standards for post office processing, these pre-addressed, return-address labels are merely inexpensive peace offerings mailed by organizations seeking financial recompense for a job well done.
But now that I'm handling my parents' checkbook and in turn paying their bills, I've found myself writing their name and return address, in the upper left-hand corner, way more often than I would prefer. And because my father has apparently been sending $10 and $15 contributions to many of these label-sending organizations for years, I thought it only fair, and timely, since he's still recuperating from a stroke, that I collect his labels and return-address them accordingly.
So I'm not using Kenneth B. Lourie return-address labels, for which I haven't contributed too much, but rather I'm using Barry Lourie return-address labels, for which he appears to have contributed regularly, though not recently. I don't feel great about it, but I don't feel terrible either.
Moreover, due to my father's and my parents' general living situation, I've had to adjust my life, shall we say. It hasn't been easy, but it's been absolutely necessary and the responsible thing to do. And if using pre-addressed, return-address labels, on their behalf, and on their mail, without reciprocating in kind to the charitable organizations that sent them makes me a bad person, so be it. I'll just have to take my chances in the next life, what there is of it. It's not like I meant to hurt anybody, quite the contrary, in fact, as Curly (Jerome) Howard of The Three Stooges said on one of their many two-reel comedy shorts, "I seen my duty, and I done it."
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.