Anyone who has opened a magazine within the past twenty or so years has encountered those pesky little subscription cards. You know, those nasty little things that flit in any number of directions every time you want to peruse the “how to convert your girlfriend’s nail polish into printer ink” article on page 37 of “Ho Hum Quarterly.” The irritation factor alone is enough to warrant a new psychological diagnostic category.
Seriously, why do publishers insist on doing something which can only result in irritating their customers and increasing job security for that kid at the bookstore who’s now going to the stockroom for a broom?
Take last month. Eager to purchase several automotive periodicals, I opened the freshly-printed pages in anticipation of reading about the lastest five hundred-fifty horsepower sportster and how I can’t afford eighty thousand dollars for such a marvelous monster. Naturally, I was so mesmerized by the gleaming red paint of the factory-built hot rod that I didn’t see the cards until it was too late.
Now, when magazine publishers cram so many of those things in a magazine that a reader can replicate a New England autumn, it increases the odds of drawing unwanted attention. Further, the last time I opened a car magazine, Pope Air Force Base picked up the combined motion of those horrible things and nearly called in an air strike.
Patrons don’t appreciate having to navigate their way around the mess you’ve made. Also, the kid with the broom referenced earlier is going to give you the most sullen look you’ve received since some character in “The Lost Boys”referred to a clan of vampires as the “bloodsucking Brady Bunch.” And really, offers to “subscribe now and save 80%!!” now shouting from approximately thirty-four spots on the floor distracts from the ambiance of soft lighting and instrumental music piped in from artists unknown. That’s why I was relieved to observe that several other readers were enduring the same fate.
There we were. All of us, opening magazines and doing our darnedest to create impromptu carpet. Apparently, we all felt sheepishly the same about the whole thing. George was fighting off cards from “Affordable Guitar Repair” while Melvin and Lonnie were doing their best to jam the attacks perpetrated by the offending paper slips.
I’m assuming Lonnie had studied martial arts. I say this because every time one of those nasty things fluttered out, she either bong sau’d or knee-blocked it away from her. George, meanwhile, was content to kick his cards under the nearest bench in disgust. “I hate these things”, said the very frustrated retiree, and thereby echoing our sentiments. “Why can’t they glue them in one place?” The only thought I had was why someone in marketing deemed it necessary to put so many in one magazine. Perhaps it was believed by the boardroom clique that dozens of people were going to invest in one magazine so that each could reap the reward of a card.
One look from my fellow grizzled, determined veterans of periodical purchases told the story: our mission was to make our way to the checkout line without leaving a trail indicating our escape route from the mess we had made. It was deemed that Lonnie, due to her self defense skills against the offending “no postage necessary” battalion of hard copy renewal slips, would take rear guard while George and I would split into separate evasion routes around the cookbooks and “Dog Whistle Making For Dummies,” respectively.
Unfortunately, Melvin was unable to escape without detection. He was missing in action at the checkout line.
We think he got carded.