The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition arrived in my mailbox this week. It served to remind me I still have a Sports Illustrated subscription despite my best efforts to get rid of it.
The company that owned it sold it to another company. That company sold it to yet another company. I got lazy and figured the subscription would run out.
I don’t read it. I can’t blame the pandemic. Sports Illustrated hasn’t been worth reading in more than a decade.
In fact, I’ve been trying to get rid of it for more than a decade. Here’s a letter I wrote to them 11 years ago:
Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009
Dear Sports Illustrated:
I recently received another invoice regarding account 2720489257. You mention an amount due of $166.32. You might recall a letter I sent a few weeks ago on this very topic. In that letter, dated Jan. 12, 2009, I very apologetically said that I did not, in fact, have $166.32 to pay for your fine publication.
In fact, I shall quote from said previous letter: “I regret to inform you that I am flat-ass broke. I just do not have $166.32 to continue receiving your fine publication. I wish that I did. I thought that I would when I made the order. But I don’t. I’m sorry.” Is any of this ringing a bell?
In the 19 days since I wrote that letter, my status as flat-ass broke has not improved. I really wish that it had. I wish I could tell you that I found a stack of cash under a push cart in my local supermarket. Alas, I have not. I consulted my credit union about a loan for your $166.32. The loan officer had quite an emotional reaction. I could not tell exactly if he was laughing or crying, but there were definitely a lot of tears.
OK, I am exaggerating a little bit. I actually went to my credit union for a loan to pay off some bills related to my automobile. There was a problem with the steering. It didn’t steer. This is fine on straight aways but turning required some creativity. Also, there was a problem with the brakes. They did not stop the car. Well, that’s not quite fair. They would stop the car, but they did it very slowly – sort of like waiting for a Sports Illustrated story to get to the point.
I’m sorry; that last sentence was mean. If I were a better person, I would delete it. Alas, I am just enough of a bad person that I am going to leave it in the letter. I apologize. I know I will have to answer for this in Heaven.
Anyway, a found a repair shop that would fix the brake issues. Unfortunately, they wanted about $1,900 for the repairs. I am not very good with math, but that is more than 11 times the $166.32 I owe your fine company. The credit union decided to loan me the money to repair my car. They probably did this because I still owe them a considerable amount of money on the car that they were kind enough to buy for me and let me drive around until I gave them several thousand dollars more than the original price of the car in exchange for this kind service.
The credit union was less enthusiastic about loaning me an additional $166.32 to purchase three years’ worth of Sports Illustrated. Though my loan officer and several of the tellers agreed that it was a fine publication, they also noted that other things must take priority over the latest Swimsuit Edition.
I note that your latest invoice has mentioned bringing in a third-party organization to help collect on this debt. This seemed like a threat to me. The sentence gave me visions of hairy, thick-shouldered men in ill-fitting, pin-striped suits with pinky rings on their fat fingers and knuckles that drag the ground when they walked hunched over making grunting noises. Just to add a bit of detail, I pictured these men wearing bowlers. I don’t know why, as such headgear is clearly out of fashion. I blame the influence of “Looney Tunes.”
It was odd that you mentioned bringing in a third party to this whole affair. In another sentence, you cheerfully promised me a “FREE GIFT with payment. SPORTS BAG.” Normally, this would, I suppose, fire up any red-blooded American male to dole out their $166.32 for three years of Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately, even the powerful lure of a sports bag does not change the fact that I don’t have $166.32.
This is a damned shame, too, because I’ve never got any free stuff from you guys. I never even got one of those cool old football phones. I’ll bet you got tons of subscriptions from guys who wanted to call their buddies and be like, “Dude, you’ll never guess what I’m calling you on? The football phone! … Yes, way! … Come over right now! We’ll play some catch and make some calls!” On a slight side note, did you get lots of calls from subscribers asking for replacement football phones because they were broken in spirited games of catch? I’ve always wondered that.
Your letter about the $166.32 bill also said my account was in “arrears.” That is a very fancy word. I worried briefly that it had something to do with dropping the soap in prison. It did not. The dictionary said it meant my account was “past due.” I applaud your use of arcane language.
That’s right. I said “arcane.” Despite not knowing “arrears,” I scored very high on Iowa Test of Basic Skills vocabulary comprehension tests as a lad. See? “Lad.” That’s another arcane word. You’re never too old to learn.
I thought maybe the problem with my previous letter was that it was not clear enough for your billing team. So, I looked up some words that might help resolve this issue of the $166.32.
Regarding my previous subscription order, please abort, call off, drop, recall, repeal, rescind, revoke, abrogate, annul, invalidate, nullify, void and write off the whole thing. I recant, retract, take back, withdraw, countermand, reverse, end, halt, stop, terminate, give up, relinquish and surrender any claim to receive your magazine.
What I’m saying is I cancel my order. I don’t want it anymore. Well, that’s not true. I do want it, but I cant afford it anymore. This is a problem not only for me and my $166.32-Sports Illustrated subscription but for all of America. We want lots of things. We can’t afford them. In the past, I would have borrowed money from a bank or some other lending agency. These days, banks seem less enthusiastic about doing that sort of thing. There is talk of bad credit ratings – not just for me, but for the bank.
Perhaps the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama will include an extra $166.32 in his trillion-dollar economic stimulus plan to help me pay off this debt. I have doubts. I wonder if I can send him an e-mail on his Blackberry. He sure seems to love that Blackberry.
Sadly, I note that your company is shedding jobs the way a fat man sweats in the summertime: fast, smelly and with no sense that it’s going to stop anytime soon. I sure hope my canceled subscription isn’t causing all this fuss. It appears you are a part of a huge, floundering media corporation desperately trying to make money in an economy where there appears to be no more money. On the bright side, the government has a habit of writing checks to people with no idea what they are doing. So, hey, there’s hope, right?
On one point, I must, alas, close down all hope. I am not now, nor am I ever, going to be able to come up with $166.32 to pay for three years of Sports Illustrated. I am canceling the order. En Espanol, Por favor cancelar mi suscripción de la revista. It’s kaput, as they say in German. Consider the matter fini, as they say in France and possible Italy. I’ve never been to any of these places. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Anyway, what I’m saying is cancel the order.
Daniel P. Finney
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
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