I know you get junk mail.

But do you get guilt mail?

I do, and I'm guilty.

Maybe you know what I'm talking about.

Let's begin with the American Heart Association.

But first, let's make clear that we love the American Heart Association.

How could we not?

We have hearts.

And let's also make clear that collecting money for the American Heart Association is a truly noble cause.

In fact, I give to the American Heart Association.

You know why?

Because they gave me a roll of free address labels.

And guilt.

What I'm talking about is the new phenomenon in my mail, in that all manner of worthy causes are asking for contributions, but they have ratcheted up their efforts by giving me a free gift.

Guilt.

For example, the ASPCA mailer doesn't just include pictures of fuzzy kittens and smiley puppies anymore.

They sent me a stamp.

The idea was that I would put the stamp to good use, by putting it on the envelope that I sent back with my contribution.

I hadn't been planning on contributing to the ASPCA, because I'm a woman with four dogs, two cats, 23 chickens, and four horses, so my animal budget is already through the roof.

In other words, I work like a dog, for dogs.

But I've given to the ASPCA in the past, and I'm thinking about doing it again.

Because there it was, in their mailer.

A real stamp.

Worth $.55.

And for the price of a stamp, I was faced with a problem.

So what would I do with the ASPCA's stamp, if I don’t give them money?

I couldn't bring myself to throw away a perfectly good stamp.

On the other hand, I couldn't keep it and use it on something else.

Certainly that wasn't what the ASPCA wanted.

Not to mention the fuzzy kittens.

Or the smiley puppies.

So I did what I always do when faced with a problem.

I procrastinated.

The good thing about me is that I procrastinate right away.

So technically, I don't waste time procrastinating.

I procrastinate right off the bat.

Instantly, I set the stamp aside and decided I'd figure out what to do with it later, when I paid my bills.

That was four months ago.

It's still on the kitchen counter, in stamp purgatory.

Then another charity sent me mail, and guess what it contained?

A quarter.

In other words, money.

Not a lot of money, but still.

If you put four quarters together, you still can't buy anything good, but you used to be able to.

And still.

It's money.

I have a list of charities I give to, but this charity wasn't heretofore on my list, and now I'm thinking about it.

Because they gave me a quarter.

In the meantime, I threw the mailer away and took the quarter out.

Again, I felt too guilty to spend the quarter, but also too guilty to throw it away.

Who throws away money?

Besides the government.

So I had another problem, and you know what I do when a problem comes along.

I whip it good.

No, just the opposite.

I took the quarter and I put it in stamp-and-quarter purgatory.

But now the charities are upping the guilt ante.

It just happened today, when in my mailbox was a big envelope from the charity Doctors Without Borders.

On the front of the envelope, it read: FEELING DOWN ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD?

And actually, I WAS.

I AM.

How did they know?

In any event, I opened the envelope, and that was my downfall.

They wanted money, and I know it's a wonderful charity.

After all, they're doctors.

And they don't have borders.

And by the way, the flyer inside the packet informed me that the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Did you know that?

Now you do.

And so do I.

As if that isn’t enough reason for me to donate, guess what they included?

A totebag!

Yes, the biggest, bestest, most guilt-inducing, absolutely free tote bag.

Who throws away a tote bag?

Not this girl.

I love tote bags so much that I used to give them away to people who bought two copies of my hardcover book. Because booklovers love tote bags, and I love booklovers, so the cycle of book-tote-love is complete.

I couldn't throw the Doctors Without Borders totebag away.

Nor could I use it.

I had a problem.

So I put the stamp and the quarter inside the tote bag.

I handled the situation.

For now.

Look for Lisa and Francesca’s humor collection, I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses, and the paperback of Lisa’s bestselling domestic thriller, Someone Knows, in stores now. lisa@scottoline.com.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2019