Spending Time With Spam

What I learned when I decided to read my junk email

A bonfire of detritus sits on a beach
Dealing with our emails

Like most people on LinkedIn, I get more messages offering business opportunities from people and companies I don’t know than I get things I get less of than those. (Note to self: find a better metaphor before publishing).


And like most people, I’ve got to the stage where I delete without reading.

But in our current world of confusion, occasionally something happens that makes me feel guilty for being so quick to trash.


It may be, in my desperation to hear another human voice, I switch on the radio, as a politician is on the news saying ‘‘unprecedented’.


Or, as the kettle is boiling for my second Pot Noodle of the day, I flick on the TV to see Phil and Holly taking calls for their ‘Covid stole my job’ phone-in.


Or I just see a really shit TV ad filmed entirely on Zoom.

Any of these things remind me we are all just people doing our best to do our best.


And it gets me thinking about the person behind the deleted emails. What if I am the only lead they contacted? Yes, the emails are poorly targeted and are written with the skills of a child whose face mask has been pulled up over their eyes, but you know, unprecedented times and all...

Maybe someone out there has their entire livelihood resting on whether they convert my business. Some poor bloke spending every day in the corner of his bedroom, laptop perched on the dressing table that has become his WFH makeshift office.


I could picture the scene...

 

Fingers numb from continuously refreshing Outlook for a response that doesn’t come, he gives up around 6pm and heads downstairs. In the kitchen the twins are making fairy cakes, as his wife surreptitiously sweeps any excess flour back into the bag, so it isn't wasted.


She sees the desolation behind his family-facing smile.


“Still nothing from Simon?”


“It’s Mr Ximenez to the likes of you and I,” he gently chastises and she laughs, as much at her husband’s jolly teases as at the fucking ridiculous surname.


“Anyway, no, Nothing from Mr Ximenez today.”


“Not to worry,” she encourages. “Like you said last week, in the New Normal, Tuesdays are the new Mondays.”


“Exactly right,” he beams, swiping some cake mix and guzzling it as the twins laugh. “I didn’t really expect to hear today. Lord Sugar says that most businesspeople do their business deals on Wednesday.”

‘I wonder how they will do The Apprentice with social distancing,’ she thinks.


“Where did you read that about Wednesdays?”


“Google" he says proudly. "Typed in 'Do Most Businesspeople Do Their Business Deals on a Wednesday?’ and this page came back called ‘Most Businesspeople Do Their Business Deals on a Wednesday.”


"Well, that’s good to know,” she smiles, “and it is Wednesday tomorrow don’t forget.”

"It is indeed. Indeed it is. Which means I had better get an early night, so I am ready to go, go, go.”


As he returns to the bedroom and she hears him get into bed, she looks at the clock. They have a magnetised Mickey Mouse stuck to the front of the fridge. The clock hands are Mickey’s arms, doing his famous thumbs-up pose from back in the day.


’You don’t really see much of Mickey Mouse these days’ she thinks, as she follows Mickey’s metal clock arms along to the now clenched gloved hands, firmly pointing both thumbs downwards.


She tries to remember when bedtime became 6.30pm.

 

With that scene in mind, I think how little it would take for me to dig one of those emails out of the Junk Folder and give it the same consideration that has been given to me.

And so that is what I do.


And this is what I wrote.

Hi


And I see we're on first name terms already. Isn't that gloriously informal...

And this is where my guilt comes in to play. Please forgive my rudeness and accept my apologies.

Out of curiosity, what’s the ballpark for the ‘several’ in ‘several weeks’? It makes me feel worse to think this passed me by for so long.


But numeral pronouns are notoriously unclear, so let’s work around it and see where we land. Starting with couple, which I think most people would define as exactly 2, it’s trickier to get consensus when we move up to few.


Clearly few is more than couple, but does that make it, as some think, exactly 3? Or, do you go with the line preferred by others, that few is a softer substitute that could be 3 but could just as easily be 4?

Of course, when few is used without a determiner (ie, few rather than a few), it changes meaning entirely to become almost none - as in 'few people respond to badly targeted emails', or 'I have few friends'. But that doesn’t help us here, does it?


I suggest we err towards 4 if that’s ok with you?


Then on the other side of the scale we have lots or many – both of which I would suggest have to be an amount in double figures. How about we put those at the lowest level; at least 10.

That would mean several has to be more than 4, but less than 10. The halfway point there is 7 which, when you consider the common sev- prefix, would be where I would land.

So for all intents and purposes, you tried to get in touch with me just before Christmas. Or around that time - we are only approximating, of course. Who cares about the specific detail?

I’ve interrupted though, haven’t I?


You were you saying you tried to get in touch with me. To...?

Checking if there is a fit is very wise. And often overlooked. I agree that deals are much more likely to be made when there's a 'fit' between the companies.


Very good idea.

Gosh, you have put the work in. Not just researching the Marketing and Advertising business I run - as you will have seen 1 Extra Word is copywriting service that uses the line Writing Business Human - but also sending me around 7 emails.

Now I don’t want to go off at a tangent again, but we’re back to the numerical pronoun issue again, aren’t we? But this time we have another curveball, as you’ve replaced several with some.

Why is that odd? Well, some is used for a non-countable amount of a thing, an area, a mass, a span, even time. I might have some cake, some cash or some such. It’s not unheard of, but I am less likely to send some emails, as emails are countable as we have just discussed. So I would use the countable version of some, which is of course, several.


So you have sent me around 7 emails. All of which may have been around 7 weeks ago - or that may have been when you sent the seventh email, I'm not sure. Well again, I can only apologise. I don’t recall having seen a single one of these but maybe they got lost in pre-Christmas something.


Perhaps an impact of Covid? I don't know.


I assure you that you have my full attention now.

As I say, you have my attention on every word now, so no, I don’t think there’s anything else you can do. Did you see there how I used anything? But you used the word some again here - echoing both the word, and also the atypical use for a question. (I appreciate you haven’t structured this as a question, but it is a request of action, so performs the same function.)

It’s more common for the open-ended anything to be used in a question, as it implies an unknown quantity of options could be supplied as the answer.


For example here, other ways of getting in touch would naturally include 1 Extra Word’s pages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. All of which are accessible to anybody, all have private messaging functions, and all can be found from search or reached directly from 1ExtraWord.com.


You can click through to any of our social channels from the logos that sit on every page of the website. They are just next to our mailing address and our contact phone number, which can be used for calls, IMs, SMS, and WhatsApp.

No matter. You pursued with email and were probably researching the company somewhere outside of our digital properties. Maybe you were looking at Companies House? On second thoughts, no, they also hold our additional contact channels.

Anyway, you have done your due diligence. So it is only fair that you have my focus on what you have to say.


I am all ears.

Ah yes, the fit. You mentioned you wanted to check the fit, but you already have certainty that it will be excellent. I am excited to know what you offer our copywriting service.


Clearly, you’re ahead of me here because of your research. Hands up, I hadn’t heard of GlobalDevCenter but a quick google tells me your client list includes the likes of IBM, Capgemini, Thomson Reuters, Panasonic...


Very impressive names.


Though I’m intrigued to see how 1 Extra Word fits with these giants of tech.


I probably shouldn't jump the gun.

By the way, when you mention me and my team, I should clarify.


You may not have seen our LinkedIn Company Page that says we currently have two employees. Companies House will tell you we have one. Either way, it's a very young business and not really what you would call a team.


Minor point.


Now, this excellent fit….

A Software WhatNow?


Ok…


I mean, I’m pleased that you only have an implied racism in your recruitment policy, but I’m not sure how that fits with 1 Extra Word?

I’m wondering which sources you used for your research. If you checked LinkedIn, you’ll see us classified as Marketing and Advertising. In fact, that is at the top of all our socials - as is the word copywriting. And the first word of every headline on every page of 1 ExtraWord.com is Copywriting ('...with Extra Business Standout’ follows it on the home page).


Was it the fluency in English that you were thinking?

How is expertise deep? Hold on...

Google tells me it is having “learning and experience...to understand a subject deeper than others.”


That’s great. Though I guess how great depends on the subject of this deep expertise.

I see.


I don't see.

I don't see at all.

Wait. What? That's it?


Your approach to recruiting tech staff?


For a copywriting service?


That currently employs between 1 and 2 people?


Well it certainly would be unique I guess.


I must be missing something. Interpreting it too literally, perhaps.

Of course I can.


I have no engineering needs.

Now I think we can both accept you won’t be able to do that.


Unless you think that, employing engineers is the thing any successful copywriting service needs to be doing to stand out from the crowd?