Opinion: Column: Label Me Determined

Opinion: Column: Label Me Determined

Like anyone with a name and an address, no doubt over the years you readers have received unsolicited gifts/inducements, in a kind of presumptive exchange for charitable contributions from many organizations with which you are probably familiar. And among the many good deeds they offer are the manufacture and subsequent mailing, at no cost or obligation to the recipient, of self-adhesive, return-address labels.

I have, over the years, made a below-average level of contribution despite having maintained an above-average level of use. Still the labels arrive, regularly. And given their accumulation in my home office, I have become ever more determined to not die until I have used every one of those labels. In a manner of speaking/referencing, this pursuit has sort of become my white whale. I'm sure Captain Ahab could relate.

Years ago, around the time of my diagnosis, I was likewise determined, given where I live in Montgomery County, to not die until the Inter County Connector (a long-planned-for, cross-county highway connecting Interstate 270 in Montgomery County to Route 1 in Prince George’s County) was completed. I never thought, given my "13 month to two-year" prognosis in 2009, that I'd live to see its completion and to attach its transponder and pay its tolls. But I have.

And though I am not a regular driver on this road, I am nonetheless emotionally connected to it. It's as if we both overcame something.

Which brings me back to the other emotional connection I've mentioned: the return-address labels.

It's not because of the specific charities or the design of the labels or anything in particular (they all tend to blend together after a while), it's that they all have my name and almost always have it spelled correctly, which is not always the case in mail addressed to Lourie. And below that correctly-spelled name, is an equally correct return address.

All combined on a label which doesn't require any licking or stamping or writing. All of which when combined creates a certain functionality which for a non-millennial, baby-boomer like myself who actually mails envelopes rather than types them online, provides an incredibly helpful asset.

And as a cancer patient, any asset that simplifies my life is an asset worth mentioning.

There are many mailers of a certain age who live, almost thrive in a non-paper-free environment. We still write our own checks, hand-address our own envelopes, buy and stick our own stamps, and finally, go to the Post Office to mail our correspondence.

I can't say whether many of us "balance our checkbooks," but as for myself, I do review the various entries in my check register with my paper statements to confirm their familiarity and accuracy. If this all sounds a bit antiquated to some of you younger readers, some of what you do sounds far-fetched and sort of redundant to me, which probably minimizes your appreciation for something as mundane as a correctly-spelled and properly-addressed return-address label.

I imagine there's a path down the middle somewhere, but it's not important that we all correspond.

But for those of you who do correspond with hard copies instead of computerized soft copies, these return address labels can be a vital cog in the mailing machine. Intended recipients are not always where you thought they were, and mail that you thought you had properly addressed stands a better chance of being returned to sender.

A properly-affixed and accurate return address label might not save the sender time or money, but it might do so for the recipient; and let's be honest: who doesn't like to receive mail?

And what's the first thing you look at? The return address. If it were not for the return address, label or otherwise, the reason for its delivery might lose some of its appeal.

For me, living beyond the correspondence on which that final label will be affixed is very appealing. Because considering the number of labels I still have at home, I'm going to be living for a long time. Cancer be damned.