(Because I apparently used my last postage stamp to mail-order a copy of How to Potty-Train Your Cat in 9 Lives or Less, I'll just have to post my letter to the Danbury Mint online today. Strange thing is, I don't have a cat.)
The Danbury Mint
47 Richards Ave.
P.O. Box 5270
Norwalk, CT 06860-0207
Dear Danbury Mint Representative:
How thrilled I was this week to receive from you a packet directed to me because I am a U.S. military veteran! Of course, I was a bit troubled that you somehow know I'm a veteran, but then I came to my senses and realized you probably got my address and military status from those annoying Chinese hackers we've been reading about. We would all be so much better off if the Chinese would just concentrate instead on their usual perfected activities of daily living which involve theft of copyrighted material, procuring illegal ivory to maintain erections, breathing toxic air, drinking water equivalent to raw sewage and, not to forget, skinning dogs alive by the thousands as they whoop it up during their traditional barbaric subhuman festival feasts. But enough about the finer qualities of the Chinese.
Look, I was so gratified when your envelope arrived, and on the surface in large letters these words greeted me, with American flag images adorning the piece:
Robert Barrow, show your family and friends what a real hero looks like. You've earned your place in an elite group of veterans and patriots who wear the United States Armed Forces Ring with pride.
Me, a hero? I, who never fought in combat and only treated patients in Air Force hospitals stateside, never on a battlefield? Earned my place? Elite? What ring?
Obviously, further examination of your envelope's contents was required. I flipped it over and saw pictures of four rings signifying military service, along with the words, A shining tribute to veterans of the United States Armed Forces in recognition of your service to America. Wow, I thought, this is getting better and better. Let me get this straight -- you folks at the Danbury Mint want to recognize my service to America with a ring? I mean, that's what the page read. Further, at the bottom it says, Personalized FREE with your name when you reply within 12 days. Aha! There's even a picture of a ring with my first name printed inside. So that's it -- you're giving me a ring to thank me for my service. Well. . .
So, I opened the tri-fold cover page and found more literature inside, and displays which include large, colorful images of four gold-plated, diamond-surfaced rings, one each representing the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy.
This is the ring that tells the world what you stand for. . .Twelve dazzling diamonds are the shining reflection of your patriotic pride. Your ring is custom-designed for your branch of service and engraved with its motto.
Oh, this is where I was almost bouncing off the walls with self-satisfaction! Me, a proud patriot, yet? I needed to think back, because the last time I saw an Air Force base was over 40 years ago, and thinking even further back, I joined up with the Air Force after the military draft pursued me, right down to the pre-induction physical, during the Vietnam Era. Hmm, as I recall I didn't exactly enter military service as an act of proud patriotism, it was more like an offer I couldn't refuse, no matter the choice.
But, wow, you Danbury folk want to give me a ring, "custom-designed" for me! This is an honor reserved for a select group of men chosen from more than 20 million eligible veterans. . .Only a select few have earned the privilege of wearing it.
Well, this was all just too much, and I sat right down, prepared to complete and return the form you so kindly included -- until I read the rest of your invitation. Whaaaaaaaat? This is fantastic! You're also giving me $149 to honor me for my service as a proud patriot? Oh this it just too much, I thought.
Oh wait. I closed in and read a little more carefully. Oopsie: It is yours for just $149 plus $7.80 shipping and service, payable in four monthly installments of $39.20.
Whoa, that ain't right! Maybe I misunderstood. Could it be that Danbury is not actually honoring me, a proud patriot, with both a ring and $149? You mean -- you expect me, a proud patriot (your words) who served honorably as, in your words, a real hero, to pay the Danbury Mint? Sooooooooo -- in essence, I honor myself by enriching your company with cash from my end of the spectrum? Hmm.
Well, even if I embraced this concept, now that my ego is deflated and I feel just a tad betrayed -- if you people already magically somehow knew I am a veteran, maybe you also should have known that my friend way back, Judy, who worked on Air Force hospital wards as a corpsman, never addressed me by name, preferring instead to call me Little Guy. You know what that means? That means, even if I procured an Air Force ring from you, the moment I wore it on the street, as it radiated gold-plated and diamond glitter either under sunlight, full moon or street lamps, all the thugs naturally attracted to such reflections will gather like wolves and beat the hell out of me, not very tall or imposing Little Guy, immediately absconding with the ring or the finger wearing said ring, depending upon the instrumentation carried on their persons. My demise would be on your hands. Can you live with that?
In closing, may I just say, you got it wrong -- I'm no hero, just some guy on a mailing list. Oh, and in keeping with Internet etiquette, it's my obligation to certify that this is not a product endorsement. And it looks as though I ain't gettin' a free ring, either. Darned Chinese hackers.