I am unhappy. I’m always a little blue at this time of the year, but this has nothing to do with dark nights, cheery holidays and having a birthday. No, this is all because of Canada Post — the monopoly mail deliverer in Oh Canada. They have decided in their wisdom to retire my mailbox! Not just mine — but all mailboxes in the city! No more door-to-door delivery, they declared! We’re cutting back — costs must be reduced!!! So, because of their bad business acumen — we, the people, will have to trudge to who-knows-where, to pick up our mail at “community mailboxes”. I picture hogs eating from the communal trough. Yes, I know, all my suburban friends, that this is how you’ve been getting your mail delivery for-ever. But I don’t have a car to slide up to the silver stack of boxes and nip out to grab what’s behind my mysterious door.
Canada Post claims that they are going to consult with us, their customers, on the best locations for these “community” pools of mailboxes. Just their use of the word “community” is supposed to pacify us, I think, and encourage us to look at these hitching posts as an opportunity to get to know our neighbors better. But, really, think about it. It’s raining, I have to hoof it down to the end of the block or maybe two blocks or more where I may have to wait in line until someone else gets their box open. Will it be like the gym where your locker is always just where someone else needs to be? Is this how I really want to meet my neighbors?
Bah! Humbug! Right at this time of the year when I’m writing cards and anticipating finding some in my mailbox, they tell me this. Sure, it’s not for another two years, but I’m already mourning the loss of my little black, slightly rusted, tarnished-gold lidded box that says in bold letters, NO JUNK MAIL and then, in smaller letters, my name — not an anonymous number.
But the real, true reason isn’t the trudging to get the mail (at least right now while I am still able to trudge), it’s just that I look forward in the evening to seeing if that little tarnished lid is slightly raised meaning that I have mail. It offers me a tiny “Surprise, Annie! when I reach a hand in and actually find a handwritten note from my sister Mary or a card from Lynda. It’s humanizing, that’s what it is.
I remember when the relationship with the murmuring ex-husband was in those early heady days of love and letter writing. My heart would skip a beat when I walked up the stairs to my apartment in DC and saw one of his blue-aerogram letters sticking out of my mail box. I never felt that same way with his emails. There are some sentiments that I think lose something via cyber space.
Canada Post would argue, “Hey, Annie, Chill Out. You’ll still be getting those handwritten notes in your mailbox — just a different mailbox!” But something is always lost. Finding a love-letter behind that closed door a half-mile away just won’t be the same. I’ll get used to it the same way I adapted to teller-less banking. But I’ll still miss the personal parts like knowing the name of my postie and saying, “Hi”, when I see her on the street. Or the security of knowing that if a neighbor gets any of my mis-delivered mail it will eventually make its way home to me.
What will happen to all those thousands of mailboxes? In this era of Recycle-Reuse-Reduce will we be encouraged to be creative with them — maybe hanging planters or tool boxes or holders for very long pencils on our desks? Most likely, the majority of them will end up in a landfill waiting for another generation to find them and wonder what the heck these were used for.