Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Post Office

Somehow I am hesitant to write this blog post, because a I know a lot of people aren't huge fans of the USPS. And yet, I just can't really help loving it. Everything about it.

The little labels for priority mail or for shipping insurance and all sorts of other crazy options. The different themed stamps. Writing someone's name and address, putting a sticker on it and miraculously having it arrive across the country. Seeing which stamps are for available for purchase.

The taste of envelope adhesive.

Stationery.

Imagining the person getting the letter and about to open it, curious what is inside.

I don't even mind waiting in line to send a package.

I love the somewhat distracted/shortsighted British gentleman mistaking me for his wife and asking my opinion on what they should wrap the gift in. I love the wife coming over and asking him what he's bothering me about. I love his polite embarrassment.

Or when I am sprinkling Kit Kat bars into a puffy envelope for my little brother and an old guy attempts a joke about sugar overload.

Or mail carriers with their shoulder bags or little trucks with the steering wheel on the wrong side.

Or peeling open the blue metal lips of the mailbox on the way to the train, slipping that white sliver of an envelope in, the feathered sifting of paper into the beast, the creaking and then snap of jaws, and pulling your hand away just in time.

Old letters. Old handwriting. New handwriting. I love these tactile objects shipped across states, countries, the world.

Sure there's a ton of white noise: The crotchety people in line to get their package weighed and stamped. The occasional letter that gets lost along the way. The credit card offers, the bills, the rebates, the catalogues. But every once in awhile, there's a treasure. And isn't that what life is about? The small smooth stone you find nestled at the beach? That moment among moments when you pause and recognize the sunlight that is skipping off of the trees and the that air is tickling behind your ears. The couple hundred people, among the billions and billions, whom we are lucky enough to know? And really, what are the chances that words on a page, handwritten and sent off into the wide wide world, will make their way across those miles to that one in a billion? You would think it's a miracle.



But really, miracles happen every day.

9 comments:

Newt said...

Oh, and how could I forget the time in 2nd grade we went on a field trip to the Post Office? We got to go into the back room where they sorted all the postage. On our best behavior, we filed through the rows and rows of little boxes and each tried to find the one for our own address...

Logan said...

I like the writing on the green-bordered one. What kind of pen does one use to get like that?

Jakki said...

Newt, you are such a romantic! I don't think I have ever heard the usps described in such a whimsical way before.

Newt said...

Why thank you, Jax!

As for the pen, I can imagine what it would probably look like, but I have no idea of its name...

cedar said...

oh I love the post office too! My post office man (Jim) and I are on a first name basis--which is to say, I know his name--and every time I mail something he goes through a 5 minute monologue about if I want insurance and if I'm trying to mail firearms, etc. I just shake my head and say "oh Jim, the usual."
I can't get enough of that man.

ambrosia ananas said...

I dread the post office. But I really love this post. Your writing makes me happy.

kaci + tom said...

this sounds like it could be a segment on this american life. i can hear the radio voices already...

also, i have to say that the ithaca post office employees are the friendliest postal workers i have ever encountered. i think you would like it there.

ju said...

julia d hunter also likes this, and just forgot to tell you so. probably because she feels rill guilty for not sending you more post (post!).

ju said...

also, ci, didn't we decide the beacon hill post office was the most charming post office in the world??