One key benefit of being a member of Southwest Airlines' frequent flier program is that you get a birthday card every year.
So for several birthdays, I've been cheered by the annual arrival of my card from Southwest - I marvel that it always shows up well before any other cards or presents from, well, people I actually know. It has always made me feel like if I ever did anything that caused every relative and friend to stop talking to me, at least I'd get a birthday card from someone. Even if that someone was a no-frills airline whose flight attendants are sometimes a little too chatty for my taste.
So, yes, I was grateful for this year's card, which spelled out "Happy Birthday" using letters from the radio operators' alphabet - Hotel, Alpha, Papa, Papa, Yankee, and so on. That in itself made me happy because it reminded me of the name of one of my two or three favorite albums of all time.
But I have to admit that, thanks to a couple of other savvy marketers, my excitement about Southwest's birthday greetings has begun to pale somewhat in the last 24 hours.
First, I got an email from the fish-taco-making geniuses at Rubio's - at some point last year I became a proud member of their Beach Club, which entitled to me to receive lots of emails from Rubio's. Yesterday's message offered a free meal, up to $7, for my cumpleanos. There's a Rubio's right near my office, so you can bet I'll be cashing that sucker in.
(And when I do, you can be sure I'll be thinking about the chain's rather oddly worded radio ads, which ask you, the listener, to "Open your mouth. We're mentally going south.")
Then, waiting for me in the mail when I got home was a card from Banana Republic containing a $15 gift certificate - either because someone there really likes me or because I have a BR credit card. (Yeah yeah, whatever. You get good discounts. Give me a break.) Fifteen dollars - not bad! Good bet I'll cash that one in, too, since there are Banana Republic stores approximately every four miles in L.A.
So just by living another year - which for the most part wasn't that hard - I earned $22 yesterday.
And I know it's the thought that counts and all, but my thought is that maybe Southwest could fall in line here. I really do appreciate the card, you know, but next year? A few extra drink coupons or a couple of credits toward my next free flight might be nice.