So, I read a headline in yesterday’s paper (yes, the actual paper–the kind you hold in your hands with a mug of coffee on the table next to you) : Postal Services Across Globe Struggle with Lower Demand. Among the points made was that although internet shopping is “helping keep alive moribund postal services across the developed world…the core of their business–letters–is declining precipitously and…parcels alone wont’ be enough to save them.”
Say it ain’t so! I cried. Okay, so I actually texted that sentiment to my sister when I first heard about the Saturday delivery being discontinued here in the States. Her snarky reply: “It ain’t so.” Oh, yes, dear sister, it is.
The article got worse: “The United Kingdom is preparing to wash its hands of mail deliveries entirely by selling the Royal Mail, which traces its roots back nearly 500 years to the reign of King Henry the VIII.” It went on to cite the rapid decline in letter volume throughout the developed world.
I know, I know. A bunch of you are thinking: Who cares? That’s the way things go. Who needs letters when we have smart phones.
I do! I still look forward to getting the mail every day. If I’m home, I listen for the sound of the mail carrier’s boots moving across my wooden porch, the squeak and clank of the brass lid on the mailbox as it goes up, then down. Always, there’s the hope that I will receive a real card or letter. After all these years I still look forward to finding out what’s in the mail.
In all honesty, I don’t get the same pleasure in checking for email. In fact, I think I derive more satisfaction deleting all the junk emails–click, click, click.
Email letters are quick, short. Written quickly. Read quickly. A hand-written letter, though, those take more thought, more effort, more time. That piece of paper you’re holding in your hand was touched by the letter writer. So what if you struggle to make out the handwriting–it’s part of the game.
My grandma died in 1993. I still remember her handwriting, and recognize it when I come across an old card or letter, or writing on the back of a photo. It’s unique: a thin sharp cursive, a little like her personality. That handwriting is part of her, and a part of me. Just seeing it brings her back to me; I don’t even have to read what the writing says. I dare an email to do that.
And so, I’ve decided, as an army of one, to help save the USPS. I am going to sit down and write a couple of letters.
Stay tuned for the next post: Where has all the stationery gone?