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Spam provides some much needed office entertainment

The ongoing joke at the office goes something like this.
“Well, folks, I just checked my e-mail and apparently I’m a millionaire several times over. I guess the rest of you will have to handle whatever problems come up, cause I’m outta here!”
Anyone with an e-mail account is all too familiar with the daily barrage of scams and spams. But I have to tell you I receive some real lulus at The Tomahawk office that I don’t get at my personal Yahoo account. I suppose the difference is that I have some pretty tight filters on my own e-mail, but you really must leave a newspaper’s communication lines open. If we left the back door to the office standing wide open, we wouldn’t be surprised if we had some wildlife wandering in, so I suppose it stands to reason that an “open door to cyberspace,” so to speak, is an invitation to all kinds of vermin.
So far I’ve “won” money in one form or another from more places in the world than I can recall.
Let me see … there’s Regina in Sudan who starts off by referring to me as her “dearest one.” She says she contacted me “after her prayers.” It seems her father (a special advisor to their president) and mother were killed in a plane crash and her evil uncle sold all of their belongings to a “Chinease Expatriate” and left her with nothing. Now she has discovered that her parents left her $5.6 million in a foreign bank, but her uncle is threatening to assassinate her and she fears for her life. If only I can send her the money to relocate in America, she is sure she can access the inheritance and ten percent of it will be mine. It ends with an urgent message for me to respond quickly and begs me not to disclose her communication to me as she is “afraid of her wicked uncle who has threatened to kill her.”
A particularly interesting letter came from Rev. Patrick from a church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the first line he introduces himself as “a white Christian Zimbabwean farmer.” Fortunately, he sold some of his farmland and sent the money to the United States before the government seized his belongings. “The $10 million dollars was packaged in two metal boxes and declared as personal effects and photographic materials so as to avoid detection by immigration/security officials,” he says. I think I may go with this offer rather than the previous one since I was only receiving ten percent of $5.6 million from Regina. Rev. Patrick is offering me 30 percent of $10 million just for the chance to “establish a company” in this country and “worship in my church.” He says for me not to worry. This “transaction is 100% risk-free.” So, of course, I won’t.
I will forever be in the debt of our own Federal Bureau of Investigation for sending me warning of “imposters” posing as FBI agents. They gave me a lengthy list of names to beware of as they have defrauded some people of “outrageous sums of money.” For a mere $265 “and no hidden fees,” they guarantee my receipt of over $6 million which these imposters are attempting to steal from me. “This is a result of the mandate from US Government to make sure all debts owed to citizens … are cleared for the betterment of the current economic status of the nation.” All they need from me is my banking info so they can create an ATM card in my name with all the funds due me. How can I ever thank them enough for alerting me to these would-be scam artists?
I received an e-mail from one of my nieces recently, and as usual opened it hurriedly so I could see the latest pictures of her daughter. However, this time there were no pictures, only a desperate plea from my niece to send her $1800 so she could get home from London. Bless her heart, she had lost all her bags at the airport, and of course, her bankcards were in them. Apparently there were many other people stranded in London at the same time, as so many of my friends received identical letters from family members. Imagine that!
There are a few that I have yet to figure out. Take the one entitled “Please delete.” That’s it. The subject and the message inside … “please delete.” I did.
This writer sure was thoughtful and well mannered. “Respected Dear Editor, I hope your goodself may like these blissful universal truths for publication to dear readers, as these are beneficial in the present competitive times.” Unfortunately for you “dear readers,” I got so entangled in their flowery introductory words that I can’t remember what “universal truths” they shared.
Many of the countless e-mails I get are not scams but legitimate individuals and organizations requesting an announcement be printed in The Tomahawk. Some are just plain strange, like the company that wants me to help spread the word about their electric cigarettes. You know, my father-in-law is a smoker, I wonder if he would like some electric smokes for Father’s Day this year.
Here’s an interesting one … a Knoxville exhibition entitled “Alter ego: self portrait as your porn star name.” I’m at a loss for words on this one. Anyway, it was in February so I guess it’s too late to attend.
One e-mail encouraged me to “skip the cliché chocolates and flowers” this Valentine’s Day and surprise my spouse by adopting an endangered sea turtle. “Together with your sweetheart, track the turtle’s migration…” Are they serious? How about it, honey? It doesn’t get more romantic than this!
Some are not odd in and of themselves, but the fact that the events are a gazillion miles away from Mountain City does give one cause to wonder about their common sense. We were invited to Gluten-Free Pancake Tuesday in Ukiah, California recently. A time-share on a yacht somewhere in Europe caught my attention, but then again, I get seasick so easily. A masquerade birthday party in Memphis at the Blind Pig Saloon might have made my calendar, but they didn’t tell me whose birthday we were celebrating.
If you would like to travel to San Antonio, Texas for a “whatameal” at “Whataburger’s,” I can put you in touch with them. It includes fries and a soft drink.
Okay, last one. I can’t begin to decipher the meaning of this communication, but I’ve had a feeling of impending doom since I received it. “They said that you were dead and before your death are you still alive?” Didn’t somebody make a movie about this?