Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ed and Me

Back during the craziness of my blog-a-day for a year project, I was ransacking Bing Images for inspiration (always a reliable source), and I saw the "sweepstakes prize announcement" above. Well, it was a slow day, and I leapt on it.   This is what I wrote.

The clipping above may be difficult to read, it may require unattractive squinting from those among us whose arms have grown too short hold small type far enough away to see what it says, but it's worth the effort.  There's a lesson here.

Ed Nisley, as if he didn't already have enough against him with that name, received this letter in August of 2009.  All he had to do, to win his $255,069.00, was give the nice man from "Reader's Digest"  his bank account numbers and Social Security number.

And Ed Nisley, bless his heart, did.  He had no recollection of buying Ticket 26840-57, but Ed had forgotten lots of stuff more important than that.  He gave the nice man from "Reader's Digest" the info, and three weeks later Ed was living in a 1957 Chevy up on blocks in a bad neighborhood, eating Friskies.  And not the expensive Friskies in the tear-open sealed bag, either. The nasty canned stuff that has little bits of bone and catfish whiskers.

Six months later, in the cold heart of a Detroit winter, they found good old Ed Nisley all covered with ice, still clutching the shears he'd been using to make festive paper flowers to sell for pennies in the street.  "Saddest thing I even seen," said one hardened cop.  "Looked like a flower garden in there, except for the dead guy."  Then he added, "And all the tin cans."

Now, children, this happened to Ed Nisley back in the days of something people called The Post Office.  Can you say, "The Post Office?"   The Post Office used to exist to move pieces of paper -- let's see hands from everyone who remembers paper -- from place to place, taking it from someone who wanted to get rid of it and giving it to someone who didn't want to receive it.  That's right, Angela.  Bad business plan.

If Ed Nisley were alive today, he would have won the fatal prize via e-mail.  I thought today we'd take a few minutes to review some of what we learned in an earlier post about how to spot malicious e-mail, which we call "Spam."  It's not really "Spam," of course.  It doesn't come in cans like Ed Nisley's Friskies.  We call it "Spam" because . . . we call it "Spam' be . . .

We call it "Spam."  And in the interest of preventing you from having to move into Ed Nisley's Chevy at some point in the future, we're going to review some of the identifying characteristics of spam.  (All examples below were actually received by this site.)

Tip-off One:  It is suspiciously cheerful and personal although the person who wrote it is someone you've never heard of and, judging from the way he/she uses language, you would run from in the street.

Example: You are liability a impressive post on your blog, chap. I bear been for all time a bookworm of your blog…

Tip-off Two:  It is written by someone who is thinking in another language, possibly not a terrestrial language.

Example: I be so bold as not perspicacity that the inatinccive salaryling of the heskill should be outrlength of existenced or in aiQ MR, FERQUSSON. Arab Rehaving Bats in one’s belfryhc)  TBS the moved four-letter wordsional unyielding to covering the exrain catsses were opposed and assortes of mathematics, stalemateing, and cheerrorry, thrustnity, as vetcyclens of the libidinous, and their detrimentalit- he is figurind proexhausted enough and shlimaz!

I have many more examples, but this has gone on too long as it is.  All I can say in closing is Shlimaz! to all the Arab Rehaving Bats out there.

I wrote this months and months ago.  And a few days back, I heard from -- are you sitting down? -- the real (as opposed to my fictional) Ed Nisley.  For one thing, he's alive.  For another, he doesn't plan to sue me.  For a third, it wasn't a Chevy he didn't die in, it was a Studebaker.

And he wrote about the original (and real) scam attempt on his delightful blog.  His piece is right here.

So I didn't lose a lawsuit, I gained a friend.  Who says the Internet is destructive to relationships?


Tim -- Sundays


  1. Now that's a wonderful Christmas Story! Move over Dickens. By the way, I'm sure the reason you confused the Studebaker with a Chevy is because they were before your time.

  2. I'm getting dizzy. I could have sworn (hand raised above my pelvis) that I'd read this column before. But then I followed the link to Ed's column (quite well done!), and then followed his link to your blog where, after about 214 hours, 3 minutes and 20 seconds of reading, I encountered a link which brought me back to this blog. Talk about deja-vu all over again!

    You make my head spin, Tim. (I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not...) Or maybe it's just the excessive vibration in my inner ear caused by copious amounts of laughter?

  3. What Everett said, I think. A new phenomenon is spam on these blog sites, sent by individuals, mostly about shoes!?!

  4. I think it's amazing that this thing boomaranged back to Ed, and from Ed to me. Also interesting that he's gotten many more visitors to his site than I have. Now I'm feeling neglected.

    Jeff, it's so kind of you to suggest that Studebakers were before my time. I remember the invention of the turn signal.

    Everett, your memory amazing. I look through the things I wrote then (searching for stuff I can bag for my book on writing) and even I don't remember it. I made a lot of days, though, even if I didn't make 365.

    Lil, the spam we're getting here is mostly from pharmacies. The stuff I get on my own site is mostly from the outer planets.

  5. You mean cars in LA actually have turn signals? Wow, I always learn something here.