More than just a card

By Josh Albrecht

The other day I went to my mailbox, opened it up and saw not only two Wal-Mart ads, but a letter from the National Geographic Society.

This highly-coveted society has endured the test of time and has featured such great members as George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Now, I find myself as a second-year member with a brand-new membership card.

The invention of membership cards, while I am not sure of the origin (possibly first developed by Dr. Arthur Membership), was a good one because it lets you know which clubs/organizations you belong to.

I have come to adore these tiny cardboard, often laminated, pieces of identification and carry them around with me for emergency purposes.

Even better, though, through membership cards, benefits are given to card carriers. For instance, with my National Geographic card, I can use the toll-free number on the back to inquire about my subscription anytime Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (eastern time).

Also with my membership to National Geographic and according to my membership card, I get the “satisfaction of knowing (my) dues help support worldwide research, exploration and geography education.”

That means, through philosophical reasoning, I am partially responsible for the National Geographic shows, magazine and every other thing that National Geographic does.

But, my membership with National Geographic isn’t the only one that brings satisfaction. I am also a member of the Humane Society.

After donating $10 to this organization, they sent me a membership card and five note cards that I could send to people. The note cards featured ducks, puppies and kittens because the society helps these animals.

I was happy to realize that after postage, the note cards and the five other letters that I have received from them wanting more money, my $10 likely went to paying for those very things.

Yet, I like to think that my cash went to saving a baby kitten in this treacherous world.

But the memberships don’t stop there.

I also am a preferred customer at Jewel. That’s right, I’m preferred.

With this card, I get such great things as money off croutons, squash and other selected food and non-food items.

And speaking of food items, I also am an avid member of the Sub Club, Subway’s program that enables people to get free subs. Through this club, I have eaten about 10 free subs a year for the past 11 years.

The best club involving food that I used to belong to was the Book It! program sponsored by Pizza Hut. Basically, as a third grader, I received free pizza for reading books, and the membership card was a pin that you could wear.

I only wish this program was still available to me. With my readings for class and my extracurricular reading, I would have loads of free pizza.

And the list of memberships goes on and on.

BMG Music Club, from which I have received more than 40 free CDs, offers no membership card but does send a catalogue to my house once a month.

I also have a Dollar Video membership card that gives me renting privileges at that establishment and my beloved library card that continues to provide me access to the books, magazines and other materials in my hometown’s book-holding building.

And along those lines, my NIU OneCard gives proof of membership in the NIU club.

This card also allows me to check out books and other things at Founders Memorial Library (which has it’s microfilm and video booths located on the second floor, not the third), lets me bank, have the option of using Huskie Bucks (which I don’t understand) and it saves me money when businesses give discounts to students.

In all, being a club member has benefits, but the best is when you get a membership card that allows you to do things that others can’t. And sometimes it’s nice to know that if you have to, you can flash your membership card and possibly gain access when others can’t.

Or you could just flash a pack of cigarettes like they do in the movie “Blues Brothers.”

However, we must remember that while a majority of clubs are good and provide benefits, sometimes a club might not be for you. Just remember to weigh your options and enjoy.

And don’t forget how cool it is to have a wallet filled with laminated cardboard. It has its benefits.