USPS to Go

So my mom calls me yesterday to get an address that she needs to update. She is still old school everything. Her address book is made of paper and scribbled on with the last four decades of updates.

When I read it off to her, I reel off all nine digits of the zip code involved and this is where we stall.

“Why are there nine numbers now instead of just five?”

“I guess the post office wants to be more accurate.”

“I don’t understand. They’ve been able to deliver mail for years just fine. Stamps cost so much now that I think they should endure a little extra effort. Rain, sleet, snow…what’s the other? Dark of night? Well, the mailman never was stumped before.”

“Mom, I think the prices went up for stamps because they are handling less and less real mail. It’s called Snail Mail now and most people use email. Or just texting. It’s faster, doesn’t use up trees, and goes directly to the other person. No middle man required.”

“You mean they are demanding more money for less work? Sounds like America to me.”

“I suppose eventually paper mail will become obsolete. Kind of sad…I like cards.”

“Well the postal service can’t ever be closed down because we still send packages. You can’t send a box over the internet.”

“Hm. Here’s where I’ll sound silly…but Willie Wonka could do it. If Willie could send a Wonkabar through space – and a mouthy kid – then it’s only a matter of time before the military figures it out.”

“And then we lose our mailman?! What will we do with our mailboxes? I just had mine re-painted. George down the street has a giant bass mailbox. You put the mail into its mouth. He loves that thing.”

“I really don’t know, Mom. Maybe you can use them as planters.”

“I blame the people making junk mail. They clog up the system. If I had to sort tons of paper that everyone is just going to throw away, I’d be grumpy too. I should bake the mailman some cookies.”

“What’s really bad are the ads for credit cards I don’t need, insurance I won’t buy and tans I’m not getting. Who lives here and buys a tan? And don’t bake for the mailman. He’ll freak out and think you’re trying to poison him. Remember the anthrax scare?”

“Oh dear, that was a bad one. The mailman has worn gloves ever since. And sometimes a face mask. In the middle of summer, too. Bad enough he has to walk from house to house, carrying his huge heavy mail bag.”

“Mom if you really felt bad about that, you could just have a post office box and go get your own mail. Save him the trip.”

“With my lumbago? All I was going to suggest is that he get a mail truck and be able to deliver it a bit easier.”

“My mailman drives along the curb but, once in a while, he forgets to take my out-going mail. He pauses long enough to toss our mail into the box, and flips the door shut while pressing the gas pedal. His route is one long rolling ‘California stop’.”

“Isn’t that the same mailman who left you a nasty note about your mailbox being short by two inches and to replace the sharp latch on it? Forgot about that. You should leave him a note about manning up already. He’s got it cushy.”

“Sure, Mom, sure. Look, write the address the way I gave it to you and put a nice fat stamp on it. Your card should get there in a day or two.”

“Yes I will. And thanks for your help.”

“Mom,” I ask for the millionth time, “why can’t you let me set you up with a computer? Your life would be so much easier!”

“For the last time,” she says patiently, “I plan on going out the way I came into this world: electronically free. I like to keep life simple.”

“And before you go all postal on me,” she continues, “remember who still sends your birthday card, with a real stamp, covered in highlighter and containing real money. Me, that’s who.”

On the other hand, simple works.