My Kingdom for a Shredder

Thumbing through the— excuse me, attempting to thumb through The New Yorker or The Economist, my best attempts at quietly turning pages are often thwarted by a vile, vicious advertising technique: heavy paper stock.

Running my thumbnail along the edges of the pages to find my place doesn’t work anymore. I hit a heavy-stock ad and stumble, and 10, 15, who knows how many pages skip on past. I have to open the magazine at ad’s point of insertion. Then I rip out the offensive page in one swift stroke, crinkle it up and stuff it in my bag or pocket so I can drop it into a trash can (or burn it) later. Then I count over one by one to find my place.

Of course this is the point. They want the magazine to open to these pages. If the thing should drop, they want it naturally (or unnaturally) to fall open to their special place.

Subscription cards used to be the worst of it. Opening up a magazine, several would come flying out in all directions. They still do.

Surprise! Remember me? Subscribe to me!

I am often amused when people pick them up and hand them to me — as if I want the thing, as if it isn’t a blessing to be momentarily rid of it. But I have to take it, don’t I? Or face the shame of being a litterbug.

Sometimes I go through a magazine first thing and rip out all the crap and shake it upside down until the cards fall out. I curl the volume in my hands, undulating it this way and that, relishing its supple pliability. I marvel at the ability to open it to any page of my choosing at will. Then I read, uninterrupted, as I speed through New York City’s tunnels.

Do they think this insistence on presenting itself will embed the ad further into my subconscious? I hardly see how. The only reaction I seem to have is to silently but vehemently curse the advertiser and throw away the ad as soon as I can. A pox on you, Microsoft! Oh, no. Maybe they are sticking!


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the untallied hours

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