August 19, 2009


The Washington National Opera (WNO) reliably produces captivating (& often outstanding) operas, as well as amusing (& often ridiculous) communications to their subscribers.

We've subscribed to the WNO for almost twenty years now. This week I received an email:
Welcome to Washington National Opera!

You have been invited by Mr. and Mrs. Pekar to SAVE 25% on your first purchase of Washington National Opera's 2009-10 Season.*

You are receiving this offer as part of WNO's Patron Referral Program, where our subscribers are given the opportunity to share their love of opera with their family, friends and colleagues.  This offer is extended to patrons new to WNO and to those who have not attended a WNO performance since September 1, 2008.

Click here to participate in this this special program or call WNO's Audience Services at 202.295.2400. You must enter or mention Referral Code XXXXXX  to redeem this offer.

"Live opera transports you to a magnificent place, one filled with artistry and drama, music and storytelling. Washington National Opera's productions will lift your spirits and refresh your soul."  ~ Pl├ícido Domingo

We hope you take advantage of this special introductory offer and become part of the opera family.
Of course, a reasonable person receiving such a message would reasonably ask three reasonable questions about the WNO:
  1. How dare the WNO solicit in my name, without first seeking my permission?
  2. Why would the WNO send me an invitation from myself?
  3. Has the WNO replaced their entire development staff with a roomfull of monkeys typing randomly at computer keyboards?
Today I telephoned the WNO. [Frankly, I do not recommend that you, NeuroCooking friends, ever telephone the WNO, because being put on hold by the WNO requires listening to opera on the telephone. And listening to opera on the telephone is, quite unlike the real thing, really awful. Sort of like phone-sex vs. real sex, except that phone-opera is even more annoying than phone-sex. I do recommend that you attend the Washington National Opera, and subscribe to the Washington National Opera, and support the Washington National Opera – but don't phone them; use their website.]

After a few minutes of phone-opera punishment, a kind and thoughtful person answered the phone, and explained to me that the email offer in my name had not been sent to anyone else, and was not actually intended for me. Rather, it had been sent to me, by the WNO, so that I might forward it to my friends. Furthermore, a card had been mailed to me, explaining this! The card could be found, I was told, inside the recently-mailed big envelope with our 2009-2010 season tickets.

Got that? They sent an email offer to me, only so that I would forward it to others – and they explained this, not in the email itself, but in a small card included in a big fat envelope destined for my mailbox.

Perhaps question three above is still reasonable.

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