A Heroine’s Journey To Clean Out Her Inbox

Our Heroine, creating another slide for her presentation: “How to Hide in a Trojan Horse,” becomes distracted by her inbox. 2517 unopened emails. 2517 judgments she’s not living up to her demigoddess potential. 2517 reminders that life outside of Mount Olympus sucks.  

Heeding the call to adventure, she begins archiving and deleting – whittling her inbox down to 77.

But to make sustainable progress she must commence a Herculean task – unsubscribing from newsletters from Muses promoting products promising both inspiration and dewy skin and advertisements from mythological companies selling olive trees and replicas of Pandora’s Box and Poseidon’s trident.

She begins by double clicking the newest email in her inbox. It’s from the Gap, subject line: “Anything-but-basic sweats.” Opening the email, she immediately mutes the siren song of free shipping, but finds herself tempted by the Cyclops of BOGO promises. She considers refusing the call to unsubscribe, believing her mission to be too hard. But then she calls upon her mentor for strength, lightly kissing her framed picture of RBG, reminding herself, “I can do hard things.”

She scrolls through the forest of “Feel Good Jeans,” past the valley of “Upcycled Puffers” and remains immune to the power of an army of racially diverse models, arriving at the bottom of the email, expecting to find the “Unsubscribe” link.

Instead, there’s a paragraph in 4 point Comic Sans, temporarily blinding her. Weakened, she summons the goddesses of wisdom and determination, flipping open her Hoda Kotb book to the page where Oprah commands, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do.”

Reinvigorated, our Heroine dodges links for “Reward Program” and “Find A Store.” She persists to the fine print. She discovers if she removes her glasses, closes one eye and taps her temples to the beat of “Get Ur Freak On,” the small and shy “Unsubscribe” link, camouflaged between the bright and underlined links for “Update Preferences” and “Privacy Policy,” reveals itself.

Clicking the mercurial link, she’s teleported to an obscure world, a single webpage with options that read:

“I didn’t sign up for these emails.”

“I thought emails from the Gap would pertain to the space between two points.”

“These emails aren’t relevant to me.”

Confidently, she clicks the third choice because the Gap never carries much in her preferred style of toga chic.

She finds herself sucked through a worm hole and deposited in a barren landscape – a website run by MailChimp (she doesn’t have time to ask if Mailchimp is related to the Cercones, thieving brothers her Great Uncle Zeus turned into monkeys).

This new nemesis engages in a battle of wit. She’s informed she must provide her email to be removed from their database. “But I receive their emails and consent to cookies, so they have my information?”

She considers quitting. Providing her information again?

Forehead in her palms, awash with despair, the voices of Oprah, Hoda and RBG remind her she must not give up.

She types her email address. She dramatically hits “submit.” She is abruptly spit onto a white desert with a small blurb in the corner reading, “Thank you. It may take 2 weeks to remove you from our database.”

Our Heroine sits back in her chair, triumphant in her Athleta sweats (joke’s on her because the Gap and Athleta have the same parent company). She takes a sip of ambrosia, relishing her victory, when the earth shakes with disappointment from the realization that she must repeat this process with hundreds of vendors.

A fortnight later, after enduring an onslaught of aggressive overtures by the Gap promising access to items that have been sold out, the emails stop.

Shortly thereafter, our Heroine struggles to focus during a Zoom meeting and finds herself visiting a blog maintained by impossibly hip thirty-something nymphs in Brooklyn. In their “Gift Guide for Sisters That Still Resent You for Being Born First” they suggest a soft and simple scarf, the perfect birthday gift for our Heroine’s sister, a swamp goddess, who lives in Florida and only wears tank tops.

Our Heroine clicks and…she’s at the fucking Gap.

Our Heroine stalls. Her sister is impossible to buy for. The scarf is perfect. And if she consents to subscribing to the mailing list, she can apply a 10% discount.

The euphoria of the potential discount causes memories of all she has endured in the last two weeks to vanish. She clicks on the ambiguously worded consent box.  

A Gap email, the first of thousands that she will never open but never delete, arrives in her inbox. 

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