1.10.2007

This is not a chain letter....

This is a book exchange. That's right, a book exchange! Send one book to the child listed below. Then send a copy of this letter to six friends. This isn't a chain letter. Just a letter for fun!

If you can't do it in one week, please notify me, as it is unfair to the children who are participating and are waiting for their own books. . . . Seldom does anyone drop out because, as you know, children love to receive mail as well as
books!


Please don't spoil the fun by stopping the flow of books for the children. Please join us, but if you can't please let me know as soon as possible

This form letter was placed, unsolicited, in my son's preschool mailbox just shy of one week ago. Although I know who was above me on the chain (and I bear no animosity there for what else can she do?) as of tomorrow it will be one week since we received it, and I will occupy heinous position of one who is unfair to the children.

What to do? What to do?

Let me confess that I hate shit like this. Not because I enjoy depriving books for the children or a bit of community-minded parenting. No. I hate these things because they keep me awake at night with a spectrum of emotions and psychotic thought-processes:


"This isn't a chain letter.."
Oh yes? Define "chain letter" then. Though I am not promised a slew of unpleasant things to befall me, what can be more unpleasant than being The One to break the chain, and so disappoint an infinite number of The Children....????


"Send a copy of this letter to six friends.."
This is the part that causes most angst. I can easily buy a book, send it to a kid, and be done with it. But what six innocents can I draw into this madness? What six friends with kids do we have that will not be thinking "thanks a fucking BUNCH, Joy" as I send this on to them with quirky post-its that say "Ha ha! Don"t you hate me now? Ha ha! (look, I'm really really sorry, ok. But it's for the children...And I am afraid for my life)"

No. This may not be "a chain letter" but I feel like that lady in The Ring who has to send on the video to another unwitting individual in order save herself and her child from rank evil.


"If you can't do it in one week, please notify me, as it is unfair to the children who have participated and are waiting for their own books to arrive..."
OK! I get it already! Do this or DIE Bitch! But what really chills the blood is that I have no clue as to the origin of "me" here. It's not really the person whose kid is next on the list. I know that. She is merely passing on the message and hastily relinquishing her responsibility over to Me, potentially the next "Me" of this message. She is doing on what she must do, and so I do not blame her. Who is Me???

Interestingly, there are no accompanying instructions that say "in case some asshole calls you and drops out, then..."

What would I do if one of my people told me s/he can't do it? Pass it down the chain and hope that public humilation works as a preventative measure? I don't think so.

This tells me that the request to "let me know" is merely a way to keep us recipients in line. A disciplinary tactic that says "don't you slink off and just ignore this, b'yatch. You need to face the music if you decide to break the chain..." An empty threat that works upon our base fear that other parents might judge us...

"Please don't spoil the fun..." Right. I'm having a fucking ball.

So. Can I throw off this mantle? Break the chain and so break the cycle of pain?

Hells No. I am way too much of a coward for that. So if you're reading this, have a kid or two, and you know me and my boy, then you can expect a nice little envelope of hell in your mail in the next day of so. Hopefully to be followed by a shitload of books for your little one, unless some malignant soul breaks the chain, that is....

(p.s. if you are the twisted parent of a toddler/preschooler/kindergartner and would actually like to participate in this chain, then let me now via email--gingajoy_at_gmail.com I'd be happy to suck you into this seventh circle...)


39 comments:

DD said...

I love how they want you to contact them if can't participate. Yes, let me call and be the one to notify you that I've MURDERED YOUR CHILD'S DREAM!

If you decide to participate, you will be forever on their mailing list, which I'm sure you know.

I must be a real spoil-sport.

Amy said...

Joy - this is so funny. I received the same letter in Jonah's envelope last week (I wonder if we got it from the same person). I have been struggling with the exact same feelings. I decided that maybe I could mail a book to the person at the top of the list, and one to the person who gave the letter to me, so her kid doesn't lose out, and then just not send the letter on to anyone else. I certainly don't want to receive 36 books as the letter promises, because I just spent a weekend weeding out books to make more room on the bookshelf.

gingajoy said...

amy! shit--you were on my list!
but you present me with an excellent alternative. so I won't die? yup. i like it.

Sally said...

I got exactly the same letter about six months ago. I'm pretty sure I did what Amy said. I sent books to all the people who wouldn't get a book if I broke the chain. I didn't send the letter on to any of my friends. I hate those sorts of chain letters. The most annoying one I ever got was for "fun and unusual socks." I certainly didn't want to get 36 pairs of froggie or ladybug socks from perfect strangers.

SUEB0B said...

You must really hate children. (joking!!!)

mrsfortune said...

You fun spoiling, party pooper.

Seriously, I would not particpate in this. Do I really need 17 more copies of Goodnight Moon? No, I don't think that I do.

Jozet said...

Oh god, I hate those things. We got them for stickers, for tea towels, for books....

I agree with your every point.

Pain. In. The. Butt.

ozma said...

Who thinks up this crazy shite? What kind of menace to society is such a person?

Just don't. It's called coercion. Chain letters are evil in their attempts to subvert our free choice. The people who send out chain letters are the kinds of people who would be comfy living in a Shirley Jackson story.

Elizabeth said...

But Joy, think of the children! The CHIIIILLLLDDREENNNNN!!!!!

*Sniff*

Woman with kids said...

I got one of those letters, from my mother. Who has no small children to disappoint, just older ones that already are. I ignored it, because I'm mean and heartless and care nothing for the children, I guess.

OddMix said...

It IS a chain letter and it totally sucks! Buy the books for your own kids and read them to them! Break the chain and send a snark-o-gram to the person who sent it to you.

just my two cents.

Mr. Paco said...

I say screw the kids! Don't send it on specifically TO ensure that some child out there, hopefully one who always has a crusty, snotty nose, doesn't get any books. It will send an important message: this is life, kid, and life is cruel and heartless. Now come and have dinner: we're eating reindeer with a side of your puppy whom you thought ran away from home last night.

cinnamon gurl said...

"nice little envelope of hell"

Ha ha!

I hate those things. I haven't gotten an actual letter in ages and ages but the emails really piss me off and I delete.

Virtualsprite said...

OMG... This is too funny! I've never got one for the CHILDREN, but my best friend is constantly sending me ones along the same line. I think my favorite was soliciting for socks. SOCKS!

Mom101 said...

Substitute "books" for "smallpox" and send it out.

Man, I freaking hate chainletters.

Marmite Breath said...

I got one for panties. I actually went so far as to buy the fucking panties, and then realized, "Hmm, nobody's going to send me any" and also, "this is creepy, I wouldn't want to wear panties sent to me by somebody else" and so now I just wear them myself.

I am laughing at Neva's comment. Your mom shoplifted tuna? Bwaaahh!!

Pendullum said...

I absolutely HATE chains...
Can you imagine my horror when I got a pantie exchange chain letter? I just could not believe it... From a cusual friend...

Shoshana said...

Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun.

How does one join in?

Not that I've read the whole post...my 9 months old wants to type.

Mocha said...

You're such a fabulous writer that I'd love to see you write a chain letter. Seriously. You'd write a hilarious one. Oh! And then? It would get passed around e-mails! Across the world! You'd be famous!

I would be entertained, anyway. That's for sure.

Lisa b said...

ok you totally jinxed me over the internet. I got a letter for "the sticker club" for THE CHILDREN the next day.
Thanks to you and amy for figuring out my response.
Wouldn't want to let the kiddies down but I cannot pass this torture along.

Kevin Charnas said...

oh my god...i HATE THIS SHIT!!!

Let me know who I have to fit for cement shoes and I'll be happy to take them swimming in a deep lake.

mothergoosemouse said...

HATE. HATE. HATE. THIS. CRAP.

I never do it. And frankly, I don't give a rat's ass WHO I disappoint. Buy your own damn kid a book instead of xeroxing form letters filled with guilt trips.

Gurukarm said...

yeah, we've gotten the stickers one, but never books, thank goodness - as someone says, I'm constantly weeding them out, don't need more we haven't chosen! - and that's not a censorship comment, either.

Oh, and do y'all know FLAT STANLEY??? Another variation on the chain letter that requires even more work and thought on the parent's part. We definitely blew that one. Twice.

Anonymous said...

Wow,what a great blog in my time of need. I had all these guilty feelings about whether or not to send a book, and you've cleared my head. I should be annoyed at the sender, my own sister-in-law, instead of worrying that she will be annoyed at me for breaking the so called "not a chain." Thanks for a breath of fresh air. I've added you to my favorites!
Weatherford, Texas

Anonymous said...

We just got one, looks like we are in the third tier.

Ignored for a week, I wanted to just throw it away, but my wife opted for sending a book to both of the other children mentioned (number 1 and 2) and burning it afterward.

Our bottom line: If you want 36 books to read with your kid, get a library card.

Anonymous said...

kudos to your blog!

and the comments, stunning, thought provoking, inspiring!

LOVE the library card comment!!

why is it so hard to toss out 'junk mail'? ah, it's personal!

my letter had a short message on the bottom telling me that the sender got the note from a friend at church and thought it was cute. :P

so, in addition to the above i'm guilted by religion and have completely denigrated the sender's cuteness opinion!! OUCH!!

the hillarious thing is WHO is gonna know it's me?? i'm the one who broke the heart and warped the childhood of an 18 month-old and an 8 month old. i've scarred them for life!!

hmm, let's continue this train of thought...

can't cook? it's because no one replied to the recipe exchanges

Kristin said...

I just got this letter from a friend and your post gave me the courage to break the chain. :-)

Anonymous said...

The letter you received is a violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 1302 (federal law).

Send the person/people who are hoping to get something for nothing this URL: http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/chainlet.htm

The URL explains the law as well as how to report violators.

Anonymous said...

How hilarious is this post?! I received this letter as well & felt a few of the same emotions of... DARNIT- I hate chain letters! Why'd she send this to me?

Then I thought, Aaawee, what a good idea, I'll do it.

Then I thought, Great, the people I send the letter to are gonna hate me! LOL

Oh well, moral of the story is, I got sucked into doing it and it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

I got one for the dang sticker club. I don't see how it's a club if they force you into joining it. "Welcome to the sticker club. Now you get to play an evil communist d*&$ by sending this to 6 merciless souls, forcing them into this club." For fun, change it into "Welcome to the French Foreign Legion!"

Anonymous said...

If I was starting a sticker club, this would be the letter. "Welcome to the sticker club of hell! Please shoplift K-Mart for 1 pack of stickers. After farting on it, send it to the evil jerk marked no. 1 who sentthe club to me (I shot him, BTW, so also waist more money to buy a get well soon card). Move my name to the 1st spot,and put your name in the secod spot. Blablabla yaddayadda. Then send it to 6 of your friends who you love to torture. If you cannot do this within 1 hour, please let me know because it is cruel to those who have been tortured already. If you decide to break the chain, I will lock you up in a closet, shave your head, and feed you stale bread. Within two weeks, you should recieved 36 sheets of stickers which you have no use for. Do NOT under any circumstances burn or throw out your stickers. You should glue them to your chest and them pull them off hard in 24 hours. It is a lot of fun to watch innocent people run to the Hallmark store for stickers, not sleep at night, and wish that they had friends. It is also always nice to get ail that isn't a bill. Please take the time for this diabolical project, it is worth seeing the frown on your kids face, and watching your 6 year old daughter whine as I shave her head because she didn't do this project. To make it harder, we didn't enclose a blank copy for you to copy (When you rewrite this, don't for get the part about the closet)!

Anonymous said...

I was so mad at my friend when he sent it to me. Yea, like some depressed teenager has the time to waste money in the terrible economy to send some stranger stickers. When I got my stickers, I threw them out! And I agree with the other anonymus, how is it a club when you are forced to join it?

Anonymous said...

My husband's wife just sent me this letter... I LOVE that I came across your posting because I feel EXACTLY the same way... the letter is set up EXACTLY like a chain letter, and even states in it, that it's not a "chain letter", which most often means that it is. Supposedly, in the end, you end up with 36 free books. Who even wants 36 books?! I reeeally don't like this kinda stuff (it's like those imposing forward eMails that ask you to forward it onto x amount of people and good will happen to you (please)! So, I had no interest doing it (wondering if you even actually get the 36 books). But of course, like all "chain letters", you need to not break the chain and let the person know if you're not participating, which is what I did in my eMail. And, woe to me!!! Of course I couldn't tell her how I really felt, "Don't send me this crap... it's rude", but rather with smiley faces, and a clarification of "not coming across the wrong way over eMail", I told her that I wouldn't be participating, and that I am really particular about what books I buy for my boys... so, basically, it was like a thanks, but not thanks, hope all is well kind of eMail. Well, wouldn't you know, OF COURSE, she wrote me back, and coming across all indignant, makes sure she writes "We are VERY particular about the books we read to our kids as well." OK... I mean, do we reeeeeally need to get all insulted and put an all caps "VERY"?!?!?!?! Gimme a break! So, here I am, over an hour later still steaming over this stupid exchange... Instead of heading up to bed, I've been going back and forth on what I want to say back, if any!!!!! Is this not ridiculous?!?!?!!?!?!?!? Now, I'm wondering if my husband's friend's wife is coppin' an attitude... and if I should just let this lie or write back and clear it up further. This little exchange, is a perrrrfect example of what these things really stand for, NOTHING BUT THE CREATION OF AWKWARDNESS!!!

Jessica said...

I just wanted you to know that I thought your post was HILARIOUS. My mother sent it to me during a text war with my SIL.

I got the same stupid book pyramid scheme letter from my sister-in-law. Blind, she didn't ask first...and she barely talks to me. So I agonized the same way you did and I did what a few other commenters did...I had 6 people, including myself, send my niece a book. I thought I did the considerate, right thing. I did not send 1 book to the 1 child I was suppossed to...not my problem, I don't even know this kid. And I did not send out my son's name and age and address to a bunch of strangers. The result of my efforts (why in God's name didn't I just throw the damn thing out???) was a texting war with my SIL in which I'm an idiot for not following the instructions and an inconsiderate person for depriving the 1 child, 1 book. Nevermind that I got my niece the 6 books she would have gotten anyway.

The moral...damned if you go, damned if you don't...next time I'll wise up and chose don't.

Thank you again all for making me laugh and feel a camaraderie amongst suckers.

Nelly said...

I’ve been agonizing over this for an hour now. My person actually had the nerve to send one to each of my kids, so now I have to bother 12 people!! No matter which way you go, it’s a no win situation.

1. If you DON’T participate, you’re a jerk because you broke the chain and the kids don’t get their books
2. If you DO participate, you’re a jerk to the 6 (12 for me) people who get your letter.
3. If you do the right thing by notifying the sender that you don’t want to participate, you’re still a jerk to that person.

After reading your blog and the comments I have decided to throw it in the shredder. Sorry to the kids, but the above post hit the nail on the head. You’d have to be an IDIOT to send your child’s name, age, and address out to 36 strangers. Thanks to Jessica for making such a great point. You can’t feel guilty about that one. Now who’s the jerk?

Monica said...

I just received this and actually googled it because it claims your child will receive 36 books in the end and I can't seem to come up with more than 6 books, but perhaps my mind isn't working with the new daylight savings time. BUT before I googled this I already politely e-mailed the person I received this from and said, "I have to be the party pooper, but I don't have 6 people with kids that I would be comfortable sending this one to, hope your child enjoys her 36 books."

Kaelie Nielsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaelie Nielsen said...

hahah, I agree, it was manipulative in the most creepy way possible. so I up an created a new one: kaenie.com

I call it like it is and have fun with the fact that it is TOTALLY a pyramid scheme AND a chain letter. I never got around to send it out though! haha, I should probably do that.

Anonymous said...

Just received one of these fabulous letters. Thinking about sending an application to the local library to the addresses listed.