I must discuss why it is, that I can be just like a little psychology lab rat, you know, the ones that are in an enclosure, and they will push a lever to get a pellet of food, and depending on how you reward them with the pellet schedule (every lever push, or every 5 or every 50 or every 100, or 500, or you vary the reward schedule and make it irregular so maybe on the 30th, and 100th and then 250th and 1257th, and so on) you can make the pellet pushing behavior weaker or stronger. So you can see how the slot machines treat us as lab rats, and we so eagerly oblige. But I must talk about a more subtle or blatant occurrence, that of Publishing Clearing House (PCH), with its incessant emails.
Incessant emails, because I, for a period of time, and yes I am confessing, a full and true confession, that for a period of time I would actually open those emails, and hungry as I am for that dangling pellet of food, which in this case is an opportunity to enter, not necessarily to win, but to at least enter the contest to win a couple of million dollars, I would search for the lever to push.
I mean, unlike a lotto ticket, I do not have to leave my house to buy a ticket for however many dollars I wish to throw away on a particular day when I hear voices telling me “today, go today, today is a lucky day, go play lotto, go, go play, don’t you see those numbers just flashing in your brain, it is a message from beyond, telling you to play today”. And, sometimes, not too often, like the good lab rat I espouse to be, I will play, even though the most I ever won was twelve dollars for having the power play number and one number. Hooked for life. Good lab rat.
Now PCH. They get you just on a promise, and the fact that it is free. Sort of. You have to sell a piece of your soul to enter. And then you have to repeat the process again and again and again because, what if you missed the opportunity for another “enter sweepstakes” and that was your lucky day and you passed it by? Oh no, it is free. Sort of. You just have to scroll through five, or six, or sixteen pages of items for sale that they would be soooooo happy if you bought a subscription to, I cannot imagine what happens if you actually buy a subscription, or an item, because how more relentless can they get???
Once you enter one time, the emails start flowing in daily, at all hours of the day and night, because, as the lab rat, you will reinforce your own behavior if you make it random. And so, perhaps unbeknownst to you, you relentlessly hunt for the continue button and scroll dutifully if not a little annoyedly after a while of this, through the pages and pages of ads until you go ahah, ahah, the continue button that lets you actually enter the contest. Sort of.
There are other contests you can enter. Don’t you want to try the daily special? You could win fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, sometimes even more. The fact that you could possibly win just keeps you going. And going. And going. Until one day, you decide, this really must be a verrrrrry sick joke that is being played on you, and that you are sort of willingly, but less and less willingly participating in. You see, even though you see the insanity, and the number of emails has gotten out of hand, and they keep telling you how you do not want to miss this opportunity, and don’t you want to see them arriving at your door one day, with that gigundus check for a couple million??? (Oh, if you enter today, you get a special bonus prize)…you keep entering. Good lab rat.
And the emails and the warnings, like , what was that old show on TV (oh, did I say TV? Ha)….Lost in Space…where the robot says…..”aliens approaching….aliens approaching”, PCH warnings tell you……”imminent arrival of the money truck, money truck may be in your neighborhood, don’t let them pass you by”. And so, you find yourself reaching for that pellet lever again, even though your other arm is trying to stop you, like Austin Powers in one of his movies, and there is a screaming battle going on in your head, push the lever….what are you crazy? DO NOT PUSH ANY MORE LEVERS…and you find yourself saying…..one more time….where the F is that continue button???
Until one day…..one day….after the date has passed for the BIG PRIZE, and no one has come to your GD door, you are sooooooo F’g sad that they did NOT COME to your door….I mean….this is bad..this is RAT DEPRESSION…..I mean, you may need therapy after this loss of promise and hope that you would never ever ever ever have to work again in your life, and you could buy what ever you needed and NO MORE LEVERS, No more pellets ever again. And you could buy stuff for friends and family.
But you may need some medication to deal with the let down and the depression, the intense loss, not only that you did NOT win anything (and that you were foolish enough to believe you could) but you believed, with even the slimmest, slightest, most miniscule glimmer of hope, that they would come with that huge MF’g check to YOUR DOOR….YOUR DOOR…..and reality hits like a four by four in the back of head……….ALL THOSE DREAMS….Kaput….poof….gone….. and to ad insult to insult….. you keep getting MORE EMAILS…how DARE THEY….Have they NO DECENCY AT ALL?????? ….It is enough to drive you over the rat edge….the rat ledge…..into the valley of death……rode the 600……charge of the light brigade……….oh so sad…..so so sad…SO MF’g SADDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!! And, the emails. They keep coming…
This is Neal Harvey………. good day!!!
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page (firstname.lastname@example.org)