Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Down At the P.O.

A Post Office isn't just a service stop, it is now a convenience store. Buy that pretty picture envelope you never knew you needed or wanted; pick up a remembrance card of a kind you might like to receive  yourself. The variety of never-before-thought-necessary purchases is presumably to help keep the mighty mail distribution machine in operation.
What chance? I've yet to see many people actually buy the pretty colored things being offered. The sight of these accessory items fills me with guilt: maybe that's the point. Like looking at puppies for sale, alone without their mother in a store window. Buy Me, they cry out. Please help, find us a home, plunk down a few extra dollars so the P.O. can live. The items are no bargain, as far as I can tell.
And then there are all those picture stamps. Endless variations on topical themes. "But no global stamps at all!' says an exasperated friend, accustomed to sending mail across the oceans. "The round stamp you can find everywhere else but not here." Not here, as at that moment but the issue gives her an outlet for her frustration, this fury of such dimension as to seem life-shaking. Instead, she is given three different stamps to make up for the amount ($1.15 and growing, for Europe anyway) needed.  The global stamp was plentiful there the next day: Curiously enough, it is the image of a red ribbon bedecked pine wreath. Another enticement fairly new to these outposts of a redundant civilization: a customer service concierge, yes the very word.
Where detritus of a changing civilization is concerned: note, too, the existence on sidewalks virtually everywhere behind the walking postal delivery person is a trail of rubber bands. They are thrown to the ground helter skelter as soon as each delivery is made and left to rot. Would someone like to tally up the cost of these items - bought wholesale, one hopes - and estimate what a recycling program could do to defray further costs to the cash-pressed USPO? Male carriers do it more than female carriers, or so it can be deduced from a pointedly inauthentic survey when a young woman in uniform on a city street was asked 'why' so many are tossed away like this? 'I don't know. I don't do it. They can be recycled.'
PS The great MOMA in New York, I'm told, sells or has on display a round ball of multi-colored rubber bands for a nifty price cheerfully confident that it is a winning design.

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