The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney.
When I spoke about mail a few weeks ago, I said I often throw away a letter without opening it. Tonight, I thought I'd tell you how I decide what to throw away.
First, if the word "important" is on the envelope, you can be pretty sure there's nothing important inside. Toss that! If it happens to be a bill, don't worry. They'll send another.
The word "important" has been used so much that it has lost its importance, so they now often substitute "urgent." Another variation on "important" is "do not discard." Discard any envelope with do not discard on it.
If the envelope says "open immediately," you know you can wait a few weeks. The variation on that is "time-sensitive material enclosed."
If you own a house, real estate operators are always waiting for you to sell it. Throw out any letter from a real estate business. That's especially true if the letter comes with a picture of the agent on it.
People who send commercial mail often use tape stickers for your address. If the sticker is stuck on at an angle, you know it's a mass mailing and you can throw it out.
Letters with a code number above your name can go. You're not a person to them; you're a number.
No day goes by that some credit card company doesn't offer me a deal too good to resist. I resist by not reading any sales pitch from any credit card company.
Both the school and the college I went to always want money. They pretend the letter is about something else but it's always about money. I give them some, but it only encourages them to ask for more. They could save money by not sending me letters I don't open.
I get mail every day with a lot of writing on the outside of the envelope. What do they have left to say inside?
Near the top of my list of mail I throw away without opening is anything that comes to my house addressed "current occupant." I've been in the house for 53 years. I am not a "current occupant." I'm at home.
Mail addressed "to our neighbors" is in the same category.
This is a letter I opened by mistake. It begins, "Dear Property Owner."
Well, how dear do you think I am to anyone who addresses me that way?
"Dear wastebasket. Here's a letter."
On another Sunday, maybe I'll talk about how to identify a voice on the telephone that's trying to sell you something, so you can hang up without listening.
Written By Andy Rooney
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.