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July 5th, 2008

My Neighbor, The Spammer's Assistant

Several stay at home moms who happen to have part time jobs (including me) live in my cul de sac.  Staying at home can be a tough gig financially so we all tend to look for creative ways to bring in extra bucks.  I drive a school bus, my neighbor works part time at Wal-Mart, another used to take pictures of houses for a realtor.  The jobs vary but the goal remains to stay at home with the kids as much as possible.  Standing outside one day, I was chatting with one of the other moms who was watching her daughter at play and she told me about her new job in marketing.  My interest was immediate as in my other life as an 8-to-5’er, I worked in marketing for an architectural firm.  It was a great job and in some ways I still miss it.  I used to go to work and make up stuff.  What could be more fun?  When she mentioned marketing in terms of working from home I perked right up. 

 

“Tell me about it,” I asked so she did.  Her job consisted of surfing the ‘net, looking for companies in specific markets, skimming through their web pages and copying e-mail addresses associated with that company.  She was paid 10¢ per e-mail address she copied plus a couple other perks.  She could work as little or as much as she wanted and at the end of the day she would forward her list to the “marketing” firm who would then use those e-mails to advertise products.  She enthused over how easy the job was and how much money she could make. 

 

I listened and experienced a moment of panic when my varied reactions warred with each other and I couldn’t decide how to react.  Incredulous – She’s savvy enough about the web to find companies and scavenge their e-mail addresses.  How could she not realize that “marketing” was another name for spamming?  Horror – I confess, part of me wanted to point a finger and label her “Spammer”.  Humor – The incongruity of my neighbor, a smart, kind, dedicated stay at home mom, sitting for hours inside her house gathering e-mails for spam hit my funny bone.  OK, so maybe it really was a legitimate marketing company.  Maybe.  Yeah, right.  And now I wonder if every e-mail in my junk inbox from refinancing my house to toys for female sexual stimulation stem from her dedicated work.

 

In the end, I didn’t say much.  I am a firm believer in if-you-don’t-know-what-to-say-for-goodness-sakes-keep-your-mouth-shut!  I wouldn’t want to offend her.  Who knows what she’s capable of?  After all, she was a spammer’s assistant

 

(Update:  Phew!  The job didn’t last long and she’s moved on to other endeavors.)