Everyone knows that when you have mail, the postman raises the little flag on your mailbox. When there’s no mail, the flag is horizontal.

But what about when the flag is really lowered, vertical but in the inverse of its “you’ve got mail” position?

Most people would assume that means the mailbox is broken. But nothing could be further from the truth! It simply means that you have nega-mail. And, as alarming as it sounds, nega-mail is nothing to be worried about as long as you take the proper precautions.

First and most importantly, you must not let nega-mail and ordinary mail (or posi-mail) come into contact under any circumstances. They will annihilate each other in a flash of smoke and postal adhesives. Some people advocate disposing of nega-mail by sacrificing posi-mail of little value (like advertising circulars or old newspapers), but this is highly dangerous as the annihilation can leave harmful postal residues and will temporarily affect the postal rates of nearby areas. Unfortunates have been invoiced for postal rates anywhere from 5% to 500% of normal as a result of such careless disposal.

Second, nega-mail does in fact demand a response. It is sent by someone who desires a piece of posi-postage in return, after all, and the cost of a negi-stamp is usually equal to the postage for a corresponding reply, leaving the operation at a net cost of $0 to the postal customer. So while you must be very careful not to let the two touch, posi-mail is the only possible response to nega-mail.

What should your response be? Carefully read the nega-mail to find out. Usually the construction will give you a clue as to what sort of response is expected. For instance, a nega-letter reading “Thank you so much for not telling me about your trip to Socotra” would be an obvious indication that a letter about your trip is an appropriate response.

Once a piece of posi-mail that is the opposite of the nega-mail you recieved is sent, the nega-mail will disappear naturally. You may give the letter to a postal worker when they come by, or a nega-post worker when they do not come by. Replies may be mailed at the post office and not mailed at the nega-post office, as well.

Tune in next week for the first in a series of how to write a nega-letter or send a nega-package, starting with the most pressing difficulties most people face: finding antimatter without a particle accelerator, and how much money not to bring when you don’t go to the nega-post office.

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