Annoying get-rich-quick schemes

[Begin rant]

I got an email yesterday, the content of which goes as follows:

In 2011,  July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. This apparently happens  once every 823 years!  This is called ‘money bags’.  So send this on to 5 and money will arrive in 5 days. Based on Chinese Feng Shui, the one who does not pass this on will have money troubles for the rest of the year. Had to pass it on, just in case!

I’ve probably written about email like this before, but seeing another of these in my inbox annoyed me enough to rant about it once again. Let me enumerate all of the ridiculous things that bug me about messages like this, starting with the simple things.

  1. Any 31-day month that begins on a Friday will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. July isn’t unique. March 2013 will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, for instance. So will August 2014, May 2015, and January 2016.
  2. People believe what they want to believe without question. “This apparently happens once every 823 years.” Seems like an odd number, so I checked. A quick search of WolframAlpha told me that July 2016 begins on a Friday, which means it has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. That’s only 5 years from now, not 823 years. Also July 2o22.
  3. The message implies that if you follow the instruction, money will arrive in five days. Of course it will. For one thing, “arrive” is vague. It could mean a windfall. But if you send the message off on Sunday, five days later is Friday for many people, Friday is payday. The message doesn’t indicate how much money will arrive. It leaves that up to the recipient to image the mounds of cash that will rain down upon them.
  4. The message also implies something that really grates at me: to get money, you don’t have to work for it. Working for money is for suckers. Why work for it when you can annoy your friends by sending them chain emails?
  5. Worst of all, perhaps, is the vindictive nature of these messages. For those people who recognize the messages for the frauds and farces they are, for those of us who don’t pass along the message because we don’t want to bother our friends with nonsense, we will have money trouble for the rest of the year. It’s not enough that those who follow the instructions will get money in five days, but those that don’t will have trouble.

Well guess what. I am tempting fate. I am not forwarding the message to five people. (And what if I sent it to 25 people? Would I have money trouble then, too? The message doesn’t say “at least five people.”) Of course, I don’t get coffee beans in my Sambuca; if I break a mirror, I don’t think twice about it; if I spill salt, I clean it up. If I should have money trouble for the rest of the year, it won’t be because I didn’t forward this message.

Look, folks, I’m not looking to get rich quick. I don’t see any satisfaction in unearned windfalls. I want to get rich slowly, with the satisfaction of knowing that I worked hard to earn the money and provided some useful service in return. So if you are thinking of forwarding one of these messages to me in the future, do me a favor and send it to someone else–or better yet, think twice before sending the message at all. It saves us all a little bit of time, and time is the one thing that we have that can’t be replaced.

[End rant]

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