I got an envelope in the mail with “DETAILS INSIDE” printed on it. I could be wrong but I thought that it was in the very nature of envelopes to keep the details of a letter on the inside, usually because it’s too easy for multiple pages to get separated and lost from each other, although also for reasons of privacy. I once asked my grandfather why steam came out of the kettle when it was heated. He said, “So your grandmother can read the neighbors’ mail,” but that’s another story.
I have no problem with warnings on labels that other people seem to consider ridiculously redundant, like “May contain nuts” on jars of nuts. Logically I know that the labels are made by large companies that package a lot of different things and one standard label is cheaper and easier than separating the nuts from the chaff. And an allergy to nuts can be fatal. If I were allergic to nuts and saw “May contain nuts” on a jar of nuts I’d think, “Thank you, large faceless corporation, for going just a little bit further to protect my safety.”
So why did “DETAILS INSIDE” irk me so much? Maybe not so much because it was redundant but it was inaccurate. There were details on the outside too. My name and address, not to mention the sender’s address, which, if nothing else had, gave it away as junk mail, were details. It should have said “MORE DETAILS INSIDE”.
For a while my wife and I inexplicably got the mail of a guy who, as far as we knew, had never lived there. Most of it was junk mail so I think maybe he got our address from somewhere and was giving it out instead of ours to throw off marketers. The mail that came gave me some details about him: he liked to collect swords, enjoyed cigars, and I think he even subscribed to Details magazine.
I had a more disturbing mail experience when I met a guy at a local coffee shop. We’d see each other at poetry readings we both attended. I learned he worked at the post office and he learned I wrote poetry. And then he started writing me notes on the outside of my mail. He was right there in the post office. Couldn’t he have just written me a letter? I didn’t want to report him because he knew where I lived. That was a detail I’d never wanted to share with him.