Monday, March 27, 2017

1775 Back of the Envelope

Cranky Dr. Congeniality, the wheel chaired chiropodist, has this cheapo habit of sending bills without reply envelopes.  So being charitable, we have saved those received from others, unused because we’re billed on paper but pay on line. The plan was to make a gift of them to Madam Foot.

From the electric company, the gas company, the TV satellite folks, the internet “provider,” the car loan, the department stores, the insurance companies, the credit cards and even the exterminator, we get envelopes.

So now, there’s a drawer full of return envelopes, some with windows (useless) and some with someone else’s address (these can be rescued with a blank paste-on label for the Magic Foot Clinic’s address.)

But wait.  In the age of The Art of the Deal, we need the most important part of deal making, the back of the envelope.  That’s where the real work of mergers and acquisitions, price manipulations and other scams endemic to this country are done. So we keep the backs, some of them tattered.

Why?  So when you and Donald go out to dinner, both of you can pull out envelopes.  Makes you seem spontaneous.  Makes you think dinner was never supposed to be a negotiation.

But if you use a pristine unmarked envelope, it looks premeditated.  If you have an envelope that looks slightly bruised, you can maintain the appearance of spontaneity, always a good position.

Why always? Because you can either say you’re just thinking out loud and change your mind about conditions later or claim the scribbling is a contract, depending on your needs.

It won’t be long before the paper mavens catch on to this and create special backs of envelopes on which to write stuff.  Luxury stationery brands like Cranes will market envelope backs in seven different levels of rag content.  Staples and Amazon will offer bulk backs for the busy.  And Levenger or Vistaprint will offer backs that include a replica of your business card.

This will pose a problem to the stationers of the world, one that is common in the poultry industry:  what do you do with the unused parts?  We buy chicken legs, wings, breasts, thighs, etc. But it takes a lot of chickens to make a “Family Pak” of wings.  What do you do with the spare parts?

What the stationers won’t have to worry about is if their backs are made from organic, free range trees with no antibiotics. Ever.

There’s another plus for reporters.  Many of us horde our old notebooks.  That’s always dangerous especially these days because you never know when a subpoena will arrive and demand that you show up and pay up because you called So and So a so and so.

Notes?  What notes?  I jotted a few words down on the back of an envelope and tossed it when I was finished with the story.

-“Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner...” -- Bruce Springsteen.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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