Friday, March 19, 2010


I called subscriber services at the Washington Post last week and got an automated voice that said, “To cancel your subscription, press 4 or say ‘cancel.’” When said “cancel,” I was told, “That is not a valid entry.” When I pressed 4, I was told, “That is not a valid entry.” Nice attempt at self-preservation!

The next day I got a real person, an English-language learner, shall we say—at least the Post is only outsourcing its customer services and not its journalism—who did not understand my plea to pass on that I would LOVE to give the Post money, plenty of money, to read the paper online. She did understand that I wanted to donate the remainder of my subscription to a school, though who knows whether they follow through on that.

I have never liked the physical feel of a newspaper. (Magazines and books are a different story; books on tape and e-readers leave me cold and I cannot imagine ever crossing over.) From the day I moved back to D.C. and started subscribing, the Post simply was a recycling challenge, a load of paper that contained words I had already read eagerly the night before on my laptop. According to the Onion, the death of print would be quite distressing for hoarders; I can’t say I feel bad about what my unsubscribing means for them, but I still feel bad.

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