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They made an offer that's easy to refuse

Just when I thought the year was trundling to a close, The Black Envelope arrived.

“You’re invited,” it read in a stylish gray font below the back flap — and all at once it hit me that the invitation I’d thought long ago had been lost in the mail (or, at least, dropped by a wayward owl) was finally in my grasp.

Hogwarts! And even if I was destined to be shuffled off to Hufflepuff, at last destiny was within reach.

Until, that is, I saw the only other two words printed on The Black Envelope:


Most of us don’t get much interesting in the mail these days. Hardly anyone writes a letter anymore. Most folks pay their bills online or through automatic withdrawals from their bank accounts. The smiling faces in seasonal clothing catalogs are about as personal as it gets in the mailbox.

So, when a mysterious Black Envelope arrives and says I’m invited, it’s a bit of a letdown to discover that it’s really my money that the "Vice President of Customer Experience” is interested in.

As it turns out, for all they might have gleaned about me from pinging my various stops across the Internet, the LUXURY CARD folks appear to have made a mistake.

For instance, they have tried to seduce me with thoughts of having my own “24/7 Luxury Card Concierge™” — which they say will provide “a complete lifestyle management service tailored to your personal requirements.”

Why in the world would I want a concierge at my command 24/7? What are they going to do … turn the bathroom light on at 4 a.m. for my now ritualistic sleep-interrupter, the sort which readers of a certain age can commiserate?

A long, long time ago in a state far, far away, I came upon a warning sign posted at a parking spot outside a professional building. “Reserved for Dr. Klate,” it read, “24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Perhaps if I get a parking spot like that, I could have the concierge stand guard.

The concierge, the VP of Customer Experience tells me, would also assist in “booking an extravagant travel itinerary” — if it could find an easier route to Bandon, it might be worth it — and “sourcing hard-to-find gifts.” (Did they miss the part about the clothing catalogs?)

I need a concierge like I need dress shirts that can stay untucked (yes, that's a thing), exotic coffees made with mushrooms (yes, that's a thing) and a DNA test that derives my cultural background while creating a database for the NSA (yes, that's a joke ... I think).

Meanwhile, the concept of employing “a complete lifestyle management service tailored to your personal requirements” sounds as though the endgame would be to turn me into one of those floating blobs of flesh (living on the space station above the planet where Wall-E collects garbage) whose every need is attended to while its ability to move or think for itself atrophies.

(Excuse me a second … yes, dear … I’ll add that turning me into one of those would be redundant.)

But there is a bonus ... a members-only magazine: “Each issue of LUXURY MAGAZINE showcases an artist’s work as the cover art, making it a limited-edition collector’s item.”

As a kid, I collected Sports Illustrated. They sat in a box that went from my parents’ house to a series of apartments and a couple of states before finally getting lost somewhere in transit by a waste allocation load lifter, Earth-class — at least that’s what my wife told me.

Y'know, I wonder about the folks who are impressed with a Black Envelope invitation to apply for a LUXURY CARD — even if it took 39 global patents to ensure it was “engineered with a unique stainless steel front and carbon back for durability and distinction.”

I wonder about the folks sitting at phone banks acting as a complete lifestyle management service for LUXURY CARD members. Are they ever tempted to say, “You know, you really don’t need those $500 in benefits at 3,000 properties worldwide — the majority of which you’ll never visit.”

But most of all, I wonder if the people photographed for LUXURY MAGAZINE smile as much as those in clothing catalogs.

I guess I’ll never find out.

— Mail Tribune copy editor Robert Galvin can be reached 24/7 at rgalvin@mailtribune.com. His concierge will answer those tailored to his personal requirements.

They made an offer that's easy to refuse