Dear Annie: While clearing out my desk and bookshelf for some late spring-cleaning, I came across a few business cards from folks I, at one time, thought I would definitely need or want to stay in contact with. But I haven't thought about them since their cards got lost in the shuffle. This got me thinking: How important or valuable are business cards these days?
In my experience as a young professional, there are two things I know for certain about how things are done these days: It's all about whom you know, and a lot of networking happens online, whether through LinkedIn or email. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy handing my card out to people I meet (especially a cute guy at a bar). It makes me feel confident and reputable. (Can you say "adulting"?) But is the move refreshing and old-school, or is it a waste of paper that will get stuck between a pile of receipts and valet stubs? -- Clever or Never?
Dear Clever or Never: In an age of all-digital everything, I find business cards refreshingly old-school. They make a good impression that can help someone remember you even if he or she loses your card. And making an impression is what old-fashioned, technically-no-longer-necessary niceties are all about. It's why it's still advisable to send a handwritten thank-you note after a job interview even though you could just send an email. When you give out your card to people, just be sure to get their contact info, too, so you can follow up online.
Dozens of print companies now offer business cards that are recycled, recyclable, biodegradable -- even seeded, meaning your new contact can bury the card in the yard and, in a few months, have tomatoes. Talk about a lasting impression.
Think about pets
Dear Annie: I'm a pre-veterinary student. When I came back to campus this fall, my apartment complex was overrun with cats. I recognized one that belonged to a neighbor who graduated and moved out last May. I took the cat to an animal shelter that I worked with in the past. (Last spring, I helped the shelter to get the university to stop euthanizing feral cats trapped on campus.) But the people there turned down the cat and said accepting stray animals isn't in their mission statement. They told me to just spay the cat and turn her loose.
The vet wanted $395 to spay her, which I couldn't afford. My friends said euthanasia is murder, but none would help pay for spaying her. I couldn't keep her because my lease doesn't allow pets. And I couldn't just set her loose, because she would inevitably end up having more kittens. Stray cats often end up contracting diseases, being hit by cars or suffering other painful fates.
The only compassionate option left was euthanasia. It cost $50, much less than spaying her. After I took her to the vet, I lied to my friends and said I had dumped her in the country.
I want to beg college students everywhere not to get kittens. When summer comes, they just get dumped on the streets. Then someone like me will catch the abandoned cats, have to pay to have them euthanized and then live forever with that shame. -- Ashamed in Idaho
Dear Ashamed: I, too, implore students to take animal adoption seriously. When you take that furry friend home, it's meant to be forever, not for a semester. If you adopt, be sure to spay or neuter as soon as possible. Spaying and neutering reduce the overpopulation problem, decreasing pet homelessness and the number of sad stories like this one. The ASPCA's website has a searchable database of low-cost spay and neuter clinics around the country. Look for the "Pet Care" section on the website.