You’ve got mail

One day about ten years ago, a letter addressed to Sally Jenson arrived in our mailbox. This was a little odd since no one by that name lives here. It had our address on it, and we had no neighbor by that name, so the mix up was a mystery.

I put it back in the mailbox the next day so the mail carrier could deal with it. Perhaps there was a Sally Jenson at a similar address and it would be sorted out.

But a week later another letter appeared, also addressed to Sally Jenson. This time, I exclaimed aloud to my family, but to no one in particular, that we had gotten mail for a Miss Sally Jenson yet again. That announcement produced a chuckle from my daughters and then the youngest one confessed that she in fact was the mysterious Sally Jenson.

During a game in which she and her sisters made up new names for themselves, she had chosen the alias Sally Jenson.   She decided to bring the game to a new level by filling out a form she found, in a magazine perhaps, using the pseudonym. Initially, she explained, the name was Sally Sampson Jenson, but that didn’t flow, so she shortened it to just Sally Jenson.

The form she had filled out was a request for some information, of what she cannot recall. It brought Sally Jenson to life, so to speak, and she’s been receiving mail ever since.

Over the years, Sally has received advertisements for summer camp, Pre-SAT course applications, invitations to visit college campuses, and applications for credit cards. It has been nearly a decade since my daughter filled out that first form, and if anything, the influx of mail for Sally has increased. My husband and I have taken to handing our daughter this mail with a flippant, “This one’s for you, Sally”.

We cannot make Sally Jenson’s mail go away. The childhood game lives on in an alias whose life exists through the U.S. postal service.

How do you cancel an identity? Who do you tell that a person does not actually exist? I know there is identity theft, but how do you explain identity creation? Is there such a thing? Apparently there is, because there is Sally and she isn’t going away.

Since my daughter first printed “Sally Jenson” on that first form, the world of capitalism ran with it. America won’t let Sally go. It wants Sally to enroll, to buy, to sign up, to contribute, to attend, and to borrow. But Sally doesn’t exist!

Can we prove this? How do we cancel Sally Jenson?

Sally Jenson was a game gone just a wee bit awry at the hands of a curious child. What will happen if I fill in this pretend name in this form? Will mail come addressed to Sally?

Indeed it will.

Sally Jenson, a random name from a made up game, in some bizarre way, lives on forever.

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