I know this is a time of year when we should be counting our blessings for all that we have received (and I do), but this year I’m even more thankful for that which I didn’t receive.  In this era of economic turmoil and revolutionary change in technology, transportation, healthcare and other arenas, things could have been much worse.  So thank you to all involved for not delivering to me any of the following communications:

1.       Dear recipient: Please complete the enclosed form to apply for an extension of your unemployment benefits.

2.       Dear reader: Despite the fact that we have ceased print operations, we are happy to inform you that you are eligible to subscribe to the online edition of our newspaper.  To read any of our articles on your laptop or mobile phone, simply provide us your preferred form of payment and, for just $200 a year, we will download our front page to your computer every morning.

3.       Dear customer: We regret to inform you that our institution’s computer network has been hacked, apparently by the king of Nigerian ambassador.  Please be assured that the $0 balance indicated for your account will not in any way impact your credit rating, although it is essential that you immediately deposit $5,000 into your account to meet our minimum-balance requirements for maintaining your account.  Should your balance remain below that minimum for more than 6 hours, we will immediately close your account and invoice you the $250 low-balance fee required by our written agreement.

4.       Dear Occupant of Seat 16B:  I am the TSA officer who patted you down today after your full-body scan indicated the need for an additional security check.  I wondered if you might be free next Saturday night for dinner and drinks to discuss the results of this check and….

5.       Dear patron:  Thank you for your donation of four University of Michigan football season tickets to our effort to help the needy.  Unfortunately, we are unable to accept donations that have negative value.  Therefore, we are taking the liberty of returning them to you along with eight of our own season tickets in hopes that you can find a good home for them.

6.       Greetings.  Despite the fact that you were granted a medical discharge from the Navy before entering active duty 41 years ago, personnel shortages have compelled us to activate your reserve status.  You are hereby ordered to appear at the Great Lakes Naval Reserve Station to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan.  We are happy to inform you that, in addition to your base military pay, you will continue to receive your Social Security checks for the duration of….

7.       Dear patient: We are pleased to offer you our new electronic prescription service, employing the industry’s most advanced, secure and speedy digital transaction platform.  Once enrolled, you will receive all your medications automatically by mail and will be able to go online to quickly and easily refill your prescriptions.  To begin your enrollment process, please complete the attached application in BLACK ink, being sure to fill in the circles completely without straying outside the lines, and mail it to us with 88 cents postage.  Then ask your doctor to fax us your prescriptions (please be sure the handwriting is legible).  Allow 4 to 6 weeks for your service to begin.

— Steve Friedman