Rage against no machine

Where I am from, you don't send out Christmas cards with plain ol' stamps. You have to have Christmas stamps (or at least holiday stamps or something festive.) So, I bought some surplus Christmas stamps from my office and brought them home to put on our Christmas cards. But, wouldn't you know, we had 46 cards, and I only had 40 stamps, so we had to get more stamps.

The reason that we didn't have any stamps in the first place is that the post office that my wife went to earlier did not have any stamp machines and the lines were too long to wait in. All of the stamp machines had all been pulled. This was the post office for our ZIP code, and it is not a particularly big post office, but I thought that was still kind of strange. In fact, this particular shopping center where the post office is located had one of the first stamp machine kiosks way back in the early 1960's, when you had to feed it a bunch of coins and then pull that big lever out and hope that the glassine envelope with stamps in it would fall out into the hopper and not get stuck on the way out.

No big deal. I decided to drive downtown to the regional postal facility. This is where all of the mail hits the city and is distributed throughout our metropolis. It is manned, 24/7, but the retail counter has the same hours as any other post office. It is where I usually take mail that needs to go out later on in the evening. It is the biggest post office within 100 miles.

I arrived around 10:30pm and walked toward the lobby. I was pre-loaded with with ones and fives for the machine so that I would not be burdened with a pocket full of Susan B. Anthony one dollar coins, or whatever detritus the U. S. Mint was trying to unload from their coffers as change. As I walked past the FedEx box and through the automatic doors, I came upon a vacant wall where the stamp machines had once been embedded. Nothing was there now but a tacky, ugly reddish color repainting of some patched up drywall. Gone were the scales and the other accouterments of a bustling apre-closing postal economy. No ZIP code books, no FBI Wanted posters, nothing but row after row of PO boxes, which I suspect would also be removed if it wasn't going to be so much trouble to do so.

I dropped my 40 stamped Christmas cards in the appropriate receptacle (maybe it wasn't quite appropriate... aren't envelopes considered flats???) and I walked away, disgusted at the thought of having to stand in line during working hours at a post office to purchase a few stamps.

On the drive home, I was thinking "What if my business was failing? What would I do? Of course! I would take a paid-for machine that dispensed the only thing that made me money, and costs me NO labor, and get rid of it."

It is like an old K-Mart sitting next to a brand new Target and management deciding that it isn't worth cleaning up the store and straightening the shelves since no one is going to come in anyway. Besides, what do you expect for 44 cents per letter?

I am sure that people complained when they couldn't buy whale oil for their lamps after that Edison guy started wiring the cities, but I don't quite look at it that way... yet.

I mean... we still need a post office.

Don't we?


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