I have had a lifelong love affair with the post office although it’s been sorely tested recently.
The fallout began late last summer when another USPS branch was evicted from their space and all their boxes suddenly took over the space next to the built-in boxes in my post office.
Of course, all those new postal patrons also drove cars so parking was also part of the chaos.
The service was also impaired. Days would pass with no mail in the boxes and then a week’s worth would be crammed in.
When regular patrons grumbled they were told it was a temporary measure and would be over by Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving came and went, but the boxes stayed. Nobody seemed to know what was going on.
We adjusted. Sort of. Friends suggested a private mail service, but that only solved part of the problem since the mail would have to pass through the inept post office.
One morning, the renegade boxes had signs reading, “Moving on March 3.” I noticed the other patrons were as giddy as I over the announcement.
Apparently, March 3 was a close relative of Thanksgiving and the boxes stayed.
We did not give thanks.
Last Friday, I went to fetch my mail and saw an enormous flatbed truck in the parking lot. Did it mean what I thought it meant? Yes, indeed. The interlopers were being removed once and for all.
I considered organizing a flash mob on Saturday to celebrate.
In this age of online messaging, why do I persist? For starters, going to the post office is one of the few daily rituals in my life, but it goes much deeper than that.
When I was growing up in tiny Janesville, Minnesota, we did not have home delivery. On cold winter mornings when my father would drive us to school, a stop at the post office was part of the journey. Since I am the oldest child in my family, I got to procure the mail.
I took great pleasure in entering the tiny post office, spinning the dial to put in the code for our box and removing the contents.
Getting the mail was more fun when there was something waiting in the box for me, so I looked for ways to receive more of it. I began taping coins to bits of cardboard and sending away for things advertised in comic books that I didn’t really want just to up my quota.
Penpals became another source of excitement. For several years, I waited in breathless anticipation for the latest epistle from Alicia Hammersley from Buxton, Derbyshire, England. Having an international penpal was thrilling.
So, you see, the mail isn’t simply about collecting pieces of paper. It’s about connection. Other methods of delivery just aren’t the same.
When I started my first business, it was obvious that mail order would be part of it.
That’s why I’ve been adamant about keeping Winning Ways newsletter something that can only be accessed from your mailbox. Longtime subscribers often send me notes when they renew and tell me how they celebrate the arrival of Winning Ways.
That’s a connection I want to keep making. If that sounds oddly old-fashioned, so be it. After all, it was the post office that showed me there was a bigger world that needed to be explored.
All these years later, I still feel a tiny thrill every time I put the key in my box. Who knows what delights are waiting inside that small space that will add more joy to my day?