Before the days of widely available email, Douglas Adams had an idea about how to make the receiving of post more exciting. You simply set up a blender full of water by the doormat and shredded the very first letter you received every day - without reading it, without even knowing who had sent it. You might miss out on a wonderful opportunity; you might miss out on a bit of junk mail - but you would never know, because you'd never find out.
I find that idea more and more appealing. If I had the brains t set up an algorithm that would automatically delete every other email, I think I would. Not because I don't like receiving the interesting emails I get, of which there are many, and which I appreciate very much; but just because those nuggets of interest and fun are surrounded by so much crap. If my email inbox were a letterbox, it would be stuffed full of Wickes catalogues and pizza menus, with nothing of interest at all there.
Come to think of it, that is exactly what my letterbox is like - full to the brim of meaningless crap, without anything exciting ever plopping onto the doormat. (That isn't an entirely bad thing, as the cat has started to develop selective incontinence and is now weeing on the doormat on a depressingly regular basis. Whenever something genuinely interesting does get posted through the door, it ends up in a dank little puddle of cat piss, which immediately reduces the charm.)
As well as that, the vast majority of letters or emails that a fairly unsuccessful jobseeker like me receives is going to be bad news. After careful consideration, they say, we have decided that other people more closely match the person specification than you - but don't hesitate to apply again for a similar position. To which I'm tempted to reply "Why should I? Why the fuck should I bother? I spent half a day crafting that bloody application, ensuring I matched every single thing that was on there. If I thought I didn't meet the criteria, I wouldn't have sent it in. And yet I don't even get a sodding interview. Why, then, would I decide to go through all that shit again, just to be told I'm not good enough, again?" but I never do, because I am a coward, and it's not spectacularly professional to do things like that, even if you feel like doing it.
Someone once suggested the best lottery to play is the one where you pick a set of six numbers but don't put any money on - then enjoy the jeopardy of wondering if those numbers would have made you a millionaire, before the inevitable revelation that no, it wasn't your time after all. That way, you always win. But I have never done that, because I have that niggling fear that I'd go and pick the right numbers every week, only if I didn't put money on. It's like when you think "If I'd gone to that football match, the result would have been different", the kind of grandiose me-centric universe in which you think you really do have a way of influencing the world around you, rather than just being the kind of person that others pass by on a train.
If I did have the courage to delete every other email without reading it, or knowing who it was from, I'd spend my life not relieved by the lack of difference it made to me, but anxious that I'd chucked away the one glittering chance of being offered that dream job, or whatever it was. Is that optimism, or pessimism? I can't work it out. Perhaps it's neither. Maybe it's just an inability to acknowledge or embrace the randomness of life, as Adams did. I sit there, deluged with polite rejection letters, negative blog comments and spam, hoping to sift through it to find the thing I've been waiting for. It never really arrives, but then I don't expect it to, either.
The blender doesn't seem such a bad idea, after all. At least then you're the one in control.
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