A fine summer day it was, and as I walked down my quiet country road I smugly congratulated myself for being unafraid of any bills that might lie waiting in the darkness of the rusty old mailbox. I made a mental note to get a new one, perhaps an elaborate one. Now, where would I find a really vintage piece—not a mere mailbox, but a letterbox? The wind rustled the eucalyptus, and the sound was reassuring. The tree reared majestically above the house, its leaves glinting like silver coins in the late afternoon sun. Ah, prosperity!
The mail was suspiciously thick, and even before I disentangled the daily missives from Pottery Barn from offers of Instant Credit, I felt its thickness, its heft, beneath the pile of junk.
Emblazoned with the symbol of an eagle improbably holding scales of justice in its needle-sharp beak, and half a laurel wreath—the ancient symbol of victory—the envelope on the bottom looked like it contained a substantial missive.
I sat down on the curb and ripped it open. The first page contained this ominous warning in reverse-white-on-black 18-point type: You Must Return the Response Form by August 19, 2012.
Response to what? I wondered, fearing the answer—which came soon enough.
“Why are you getting this notice?” the letter went on, at once chatty and sinister. ...