I devised a telemarketing scheme when I was thirteen.

I went onto my friend’s computer, found a text-to-speech program. and wrote the following:

“Do you want to know the meaning of life? If so, mail a one dollar bill to [address redacted], and we will send you the meaning of life.”

My thinking was that people would pay for it no matter what. A dollar was such a throw away amount of money, and even if it wasn’t the “real” meaning of life, curiosity would force some people to stuff those envelopes, just to figure out what this snake oil salesman was shilling.

The address given in the script was to a house in Rye, New Hampshire that was in foreclosure and had head-high weeds growing in the yard.

My plan was to clean the mailbox out weekly, and keep the proceeds for myself without mailing anything back to my customers. If, in the off chance that somebody really complained about not getting the secret of life, I decided I would mail them a random page from the Bible to shut them up.

I wrote my script, converted it to robotic text voice using my friend’s program when he was asleep, and recorded it onto one of my mother’s micro-cassette recorders she used for her social work practice.

When I slept at my friend’s house in Rye, I sneaked out in the early morning hours and walked a mile down the road to a convenience store called the Hungry Horse, where I used the pay phone and dialed random numbers from a phone book. When people answered, I played the robotic voice from the recorder into the receiver:

“Do you want to know the meaning of life? If so, mail a one dollar bill to [address redacted], and we will send you the meaning of life.”

I did this for two weeks straight, until a police car flashed his spotlight on me, and I was forced to escape though a maze of fields, marshes, horse farms and a length of sopping wet swamp back to my friend’s house.

I left my muddy clothes outside by the garage, went to bed, and then rode my bike home before my friend woke up so he wouldn’t know about my foiled scheme.

I never checked that mailbox. Every now and again when I’m driving down to the beach, I’ll drive by the house, now occupied by a happy looking family, and wonder if they get random one dollar bills mailed to them, accompanied by notes begging them for the meaning of life.

Written by Mike