Returning home to a three-month pile of snail mail, I start by making four piles: His, Mine, Ours, and Junk, the most easily handled but sadly the smallest pile.
Over breakfast, we dispose of Ours: Christmas cards that arrived after we left, credit card statements already looked at online. Then I take Mine to my office and sort it again, but by source: magazines, businesses, charities, and government.
I boot pretty quickly through the first three piles, noting a few oddities as I go:
- 1 letter ostensibly confirming a magazine gift for a grandchild but really giving me a handy form for ordering more (gift subscriptions, not grandchildren)
- 53 bank mailings (maybe I miscounted) reporting on 1 RRSP contribution, 2 retirement savings account transfers (sending and receiving banks both heard from multiple times, thanks very much), and 3 bank accounts
- 3 tax receipts for In Memoriam donations to offline charities, and 2 follow-on solicitations from charities whose mailing lists I joined by making In Memoriam donations
So far, so good: tedious but tolerable. Then I hit the last pile and its highlights:
- A Canada Revenue Agency reminder that my first HST payment is due at the end of April, unlike every other year when it was due at, let me see, the end of April
- A Service Canada notification that my application for Old Age Security has been approved, with 20 column-inches of additional information, much of it made irrelevant by this very notification and all of it in print too small for Old Age Security recipients to read easily
Wow! This is fun. But wait, there’s more. The last item in the government pile brings birthday greetings from Her Majesty the Queen.
I’m not kidding. Of course, the greetings come from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care via ServiceOntario, but that’s a proxy for the Province of Ontario which is, in turn, a proxy for Herself. The letter starts off with a tone both celebratory and condescending, sorta like this.
Dear Ontarian: Congratulations on surviving to 65!
Maybe I overreacted.
Anyway, it’s clear that 65 is the eligibility age for the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, but the Program itself is past confusing. I hack through the jungle:
- Deductibles, co-payments, and requirements related thereto
- Income levels and their effect on benefits (in two tables)
- Application procedures (“It’s simple!”)
- Interactions with two other provincial drug programs
- What You Should Do if You Move (call the Queen, I think, but maybe I misunderstood)
I reach the end of the covering letter none the wiser, really, and turn hopefully to the enclosed pamphlet. Sadly, it has nothing to do with the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, and is unexpectedly offensive besides.
How does it offend me? Let me count the editorial ways:
- It has three named sections — Did You Know?, Some Suggestions, More Suggestions (I’m not kidding) — and an unnamed section that (going by its content) would have to be We Just Thought We’d Say It Again to Fill Up the Pamphlet.
- It does not distinguish between content of passing interest (things you might want to know, you know, sometime) and content critical to health or life safety (things you MUST DO or MUST NOT DO with your meds).
- Its advice on the proper handling of meds is valid for all ages, not just for seniors, as is its oft-repeated advice on What to Do if You Experience a Surprising Side Effect (Hint: Don’t call the Queen.).
I pay taxes for this, so I’m about to call the police: I (and other Dear Ontarians) have been robbed. Worse, as a soon-to-be senior, I fear I’m in line for many more such communications from the Crown. Good grief.
Does the Queen know what’s being done in Her name? Surely not. Maybe I’ll call Her.
I’m not kidding.