November 15, 2009

I know people are very upset about the looming postal strikes in Britain, but I won't mind it at all. If anything, I'll enjoy it. Nothing good ever comes in the mail. Why would I mind a reprieve from receiving bills, catalogues and junk?

I remember when the mail used to be fun - back before e-mail, when I would receive birthday cards and cheques. Or even better: a birthday card with a cheque. There was nothing better then opening that white square envelope knowing that inside there would be money. It was such a let down when it was just a card.

Mail used to be exciting because every day was a new opportunity. You never knew what you were going to get. A handwritten letter, an invitation - maybe there would be a postcard from a friend in the Himalayas.

Now, the only postcards that arrive have ads on them. Do I want a pizza? A steam cleaning for my carpet? Or my teeth whitened? And the only invitations I get are for free sessions at tanning salons. How did I ever get on this list?

Either that or it's a plea from some charity. Then I feel guilty I'm not sending money to save a panda in China. Mixed in with the charity junk mail are the property listings with photos of flats I can't afford. I don't need to see that.

If there's anything important or with relevant information I know I'll get it through e-mail. So invariably, what comes in the post is whatever's left over. Credit card applications. Offers for car insurance (for the car I don't own). Chinese food flyers. And because I travel so much, it piles up. When I get home, I have a mountain of misery waiting for me and I need a crane to lift it. Then it sits on my table in a lump. A sad lump held together with grubby rubber bands.

And the worst thing that comes in the mail? The little card that informs me I have to make a trip to the post office to collect a package or registered letter. Everything about this is irritating. How could I miss a delivery? I'm always home.

Whenever I have to go to the post office, I can feel myself getting older. It's like stepping into a dusty time-warp. No one ever spruces up the post office - the post office I use in New York has the same damp sponge on the table that's been there since 1980.

Also, I worry I'm going to catch something. It's like the waiting room of a clinic; people standing in the queue coughing and sneezing - but at least at a clinic there's something to look forward to - a doctor. The only thing to look forward to at the post office is getting it over with.

I know there are people who miss the days when they used to write letters but it's time to face facts: those days are over. A friend of mine told me that recently, she tried to write a letter and she was shocked at how bad her handwriting had become. I don't have that issue because I write lists all the time.

Last week I had to go to the post office - it was on my list. I'd put it off for weeks because I find it so depressing. It also happened to be on a day I did laundry, which was not a smart move. That says it all about my life. Laundry in the morning - post office in the afternoon - all that's missing is a game of mahjong and a hip replacement.