Straight to the Spam Folder: Astonishing E-Mail Messages You'll Never Open

Spamming is an underappreciated art form. In fact, "hated" may be a more accurate adjective. Like mimes in a public square, spammers seek to capture the attention of people who actively try to avoid them. Thus they must strike fast and hard, bewildering their prey with astonishing bombast, no-holds-barred familiarity, and too-good-to-be-true promises. Much depends on the effectiveness of their initial pitch--the e-mail header--and in exploiting that space, they put practitioners of haiku to shame, delivering their come-on to the rubes (that is, us) in a single line and usually in far fewer than 17 syllables.

And yet if you equip your e-mail program with a good spam filter (we at PC World use the Postini service), you're unlikely to see the fruits of the spammer's labor unless you enter the world of the Quarantine Summary, where "potential junk or virus-infected messages" go to die. If you think of your daily trip to the quarantine zone as a usually fruitless scan for wrongly incarcerated messages, it can't help but seem a nuisance. But if you go there looking for poetry, Delphic mystery, and fortune-cookie philosophy, you can discover gems of unrecognized genius.

So let's take a spin through the quarantined messages of PC World's editorial staff and see what wisdom our spammers wish to impart to a cynical, uncaring world. Our guarantee: All of the e-mail headers listed here are certified as-is, found-in-the-filter, pure organic spam, without any artificial editorial enhancements. (However, since spammers have the naughty habit of commandeering innocent people's e-mail addresses in order to gain a patina of legitimacy--and since innocent people are not above filing nasty lawsuits--I have altered the e-mail addresses included here.)

GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS

I don't know you

(from Z-na@2zzz.com)

I'm glad we cleared that up right away. (Incidentally, FHM magazine recently named this one of the ten best pickup lines ever.)

Happy New Now!

(from grant@kibbleburn.com)

Too late: It's already old.

Hi it's Monica

(from unknown@mysterymiddie.com)

Okay, let's give it a try: "Hi, Monica. I don't know you."

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

Help Your Customer Live the Fantasy

(from tellingwc@martianfail.com)

This opportunity may be a bit more hands-on than I'd like.

Leadership on purpose

(from DisintegraTusa@utterdissolution.com)

But isn't that cheating?

Create a Customer Walk-a-Thon

(from neighboredto@leadhice.com)

No, no! Into the store, into the store!

Are you participating in the Recession?

(from skelly@smakindabak.com)

You mean...it's voluntary?

GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT

Hi Linda, try yourself as a Personal Assistant

(from prison05@repercussionstudios.com)

If it doesn't work out, you can always lay yourself off.

Need Promotion

(from watchdog@pcworld.com)

To senior watchdog?

Better Job

(from stevengray@pcworld.com)

Wait a minute--why am I offering myself a better job?

WATCHES!

With our watches boring time will go faster.

(from shrillz@groundswath.com)

The focus here is either on disturbing the space/time continuum or on appealing specifically to miners.

With a cool watch you can beat everybody.

(from seizesv1085@bastinadores.com)

Sounds like an extremely sturdy (and dangerous) watch.

Designer watches at very democratic prices.

(from limboed@galleriailltempera.com)

This one looks promising. I know I can't afford very republican prices.

An elegant watch will give you the wings.

(from chutzpahz47@groundswath.com)

Is that anything like the vapors?

We offer the best alarm-clocks for your little buddy down there.

(from unknown@mysterymiddie.com)

Gilligan?!?

ENTERTAINMENT/ADVENTURE/TRAVEL

Laugh 'Til You Cry

(from asceticas4@jambiguous.com)

I hope that isn't a threat. "Laugh, Clown, Laugh!"

Agree to be sick! Noway!

(from klubprattle@tripanic.com)

If that's a typo for "Norway," I know a country that needs a new PR campaign.

Hello. Heather here

(from unknown@mysterymiddie.com)

Scotland's board of tourism could do with a new slogan, too.

MYSTERIOUS ADVICE

Bell the cat, or rather, get

(from indigene@aboriginous.net)

"Bell the get"?

Buy Soft For The Prices You Will Enjoy.

(from messagedy2@urinsane.com)

Finally, an investment strategy that makes sense--unless your heart is set on buying firm.

If for you bad mood to call to me!

(from unknown@mysterymiddie.com)

Borat is moonlighting again. But is this if already for me bad mood, or if in order for me bad mood?

Stop Sweating and Start Cheating at Gardening Today

(from unknown@mysterymiddie.com)

Many who are new to the world of high-stakes gardening succumb to this temptation.

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