Frequent flyers


Every day they come flocking towards our cars as we drive to and back from work, waving their pieces of paper advertising their special offers, prompting us to roll up our windows, put our palms up and shake our heads. Yet still they persevere the next day, and the next.


In a way, I admire the determination shown by the flyer distributors who roam our streets every day. Braving the traffic and the weather, they flit from car to car, handing out their bits of paper. But these bits of paper are bits of paper that I do not want and do not need. I do not need to know that a huge supermarket in the suburbs is selling cans of tuna fish (which, incidentally, I dislike) at half price for one week only, I do not want to be told that I should rush to buy a shirt that will fall to pieces before the January sales and I have no interest in taking dance classes, computer classes or any other classes.


Then there are those companies who recruit people to place these handouts on your windscreen and others who send you junk mail or simply get the post office to stuff things in your letter box. The steps at my local post office are littered with these pieces of paper.


But at least these people are willing to offer something for free, even if it is a piece of paper that no one wants. There are others who want to take your money instead. They sell magazines and booklets and raffle tickets. Personally, I don’t want any of these and if I did, I wouldn’t wait to be stuck at the traffic lights before I decided to get them.


Junk mail is everywhere, and not just in printed form. I get junk emails, usually advertising certain drugs which I am happy to say I do not need, and sometimes websites, software or Rolex replicas. Other times I may receive a “Final winning notification” alerting me to the fact that, congratulations, I am a lucky winner and my email was attached to the jackpot winning lottery ticket,  or sometimes an email from Ghana, Sierra Leone or Nigeria titled “Urgent Assistance” and asking me to help transfer fifteen million dollars. I also get junk text messages on my cell phone, which I pretend are from friends to make people think I am popular.


Other times people come to my office or house trying to get me to give them money to the charity they’ve been paid to represent that week, while others come to sell me fruit, jars of jam or other foodstuffs (the priest who reached into his robe to take out a leg of ham was an interesting variation on a common theme- most of our priests would just ask for cash).


So I’ll make it clear to the junk mail senders, the pamphlet distributors and everyone else- I do not want to buy anything unless I know where it came from, I do not want to give money unless I know where it’s going, and I do not want to know about special offers, half price, two for ones, 10% off, fire sales, bargains, three for twos or one time onlys. Especially when the product advertised is tuna fish.


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