It annoys me the amount of spam that likes to show up in my email. It’s the usual crap. Nothing that you haven’t seen before. Some are flyers from actual companies, the others want me to click on them but are disguised as well as three cats in a trench coat standing on each other’s shoulders. For a couple of months, there was one that kept showing up nearly every day.
“You’ve been selected!” was the subject line. I never click on spam email, I just go off of what the little mini-description in the side part of my mail program shows me. “You’ve been selected for a place of marking in the 2021…” is all I could see. I assumed it was something wanting me to pay some kind of a printer’s fee for some bull book that was a sort of “who’s who” thing that no one would really be impressed by, yet I would bring up on every single date I would go on henceforth.
Me: “Do you know I was selected to be in the 2021 who’s who among northeast Tennessee writers?” Her: “That’s cute, do you know how to talk about anything related to 1970s game shows?” My eyes lit up, I leaned in close to her and whispered “Which year of Match Game do you wanna talk about?” The turgid passion between the both of us roared to tepid, our eyes locked, and… Wait. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah! The email. Anyways.
I sent the email straight to trash and went on with my day, which consisted mostly of playing Animal Crossing, because, pandemic. But the folks behind these spam emails are a persistent bunch. The emails start coming and they don’t stop coming. Every day, sometimes twice a day, the same email would show up. “You’ve been selected!” morning and night. After a while, as this week on for weeks, I would notice the little preview of the body of the email would change.
It would be the who’s who thing, or it would be some sort of noted professionals list, and even one time it suggested I had been chosen as one of the “top realtors in your region!” That one was odd, as though I spent a lot of free time browsing the Zillow app, I have never been a realtor. Just like before, I’d see the mail, move to trash, delete, go on with my day. I never thought anything more of it, until one day when I went to the grocery store.
I was there buying the essentials, potted meat, and beans, the adventurer’s diet. After paying for my parcels I returned to my car where I noticed a piece of paper had been stuck underneath the driver’s side windshield. It was a piece of folded white paper. Written on the paper, in red crayon of all things, was “You’ve been selected.” Shook, I looked around, I didn’t see anyone who appeared to be observing me or my vehicle. I got in and went back home.
The first thing I noticed in the days since that message had been left on my car was that the emails had stopped. Was this all an odd, elaborate prank my friends had put together? Who was the benefit of it? I hadn’t seen a single “You’ve been selected” email or message since that note. But it was to be a short reprise from the “you’ve been selected” campaign. It was about to ramp up.
A letter arrived one day, in a normal-looking envelope, I opened it up and it read “Mr. Ross, we’ve been trying to reach you” and I thought “if this is about an extended car warranty, I’m gonna hit the ceiling.” But the letter went on, “since you’ve ignored our emails, we had to reach out by this method.” The letter told me that I was the only one who could help with the conflict between the Rylan Star League and the Ko-Dan Empire. How I was the only video game wiz who could help them.
The letter was describing the plot of the movie “The Last Starfighter,” only this time I was told the conflict was based on the ratings of Animal Crossing islands, not warfare. At this point I knew this must be a prank from a friend, I called the one friend I suspected and he roared with laughter. It was him and his brilliant, computer programmer wife who was the one who arranged the e-mails to be sent. We had a good laugh about it, but now I’m really paranoid every time I check my email or play Animal Crossing.
What if all those messages we kept getting about our extended warranties are actually secret recruitments for some kind of Space NASCAR? Will the newly landed Mars rover find something that looks an awful lot like the Bristol Motor Speedway? Time will tell, and maybe this shows that the pandemic has caused me to stay inside for far, far too long. See you next week.