There ought to be a law against computers writing letters to people.
I get letters from computers that belong to politicans, television preachers and others who are begging for my money.
Computers attempt to make you think you have received these letters from a real person. They start out very chatty and they tell you how special you are to be receiving such a letter.
They can't fool me. I know when a computer has written me a letter every time because it usually fouls up my name.
"Dear Mr. Grozzard," a computer wrote to me recently.
I also know I'm not special because I am receiving a letter from a computer. I just happen to have made a few mailing lists here and there, probably because I ordered a set of Ginsu knives and a pocket fisherman off television.
Lee Southwell, a 34-year-old lawyer who lives in Peachtree Hills, feels as I do about receiving letters from computers, especially after the two that came to him recently from two Atlanta automobile dealerships.
The first was sent on behalf of Hub Ford. The letter said he was a very special customer and if he would come down for a test drive, he would receive a gift.
Later, he was mailed a computerized letter from Taber Pontiac. It said if he just showed up on the lot with the letter he would receive a free oil painting and if he just happened to buy a car while he was there, he would receive four free oil paintings.
Lee Southwell didn't go to either place to test drive a car or to buy one in order to get the prizes, however, and for a good reason.
He is legally blind.
"I was tempted to go," he said. "I was going both places with my dog in his harness. I wanted to embarrass them."
Mr. Southwell has retinitis pigmentosa and has been legally blind for 10 years. He has never been able to drive. He walks with the help of a black labrador.
He was able to read the two letters from the auto dealerships by using an electronic aid that magnifies objects a thousand times and projects them onto a large television screen.
"I guess if I had a chip on my shoulder," he said, "I would really be insulted by these letters. But they have reminded me of my problem with mobility. The entire process is stupid and I don't guess there is anything we can do about them, because you can't outlaw stupidity."
No, but you can't sit still and do nothing, either, so I called Hub Ford and Taber Pontiac and told them about Mr. Southwell.
Both said the letters were mailed for them by outside concerns, but they also said they would do their best to take Lee Southwell's name off their list of potential customers.
It's a minor victory in the continuing struggle between man and computer, but I'll take it.
Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.