Going Postal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     On January 8th, I had the opportunity to become a community activist and after attending a town meeting, I am pleased to say I played a part in saving Sunderland’s post office from closure. Sunderland is a small town of about 3500, which means we have a tiny post office with only a couple of employees and a handful of post office boxes. The building itself is tucked away on a residential side street, and although it might seem antiquated, it’s a part of our town that is worth saving.

     Why was saving our post office so important to me? Anyone who knows me knows that I write letters. Lots of letters. I might seem hopelessly stuck in the past, but I’m on a first name basis with our postmaster, Ronnie. I try to pay him a visit at least once a month to see what new stamps he has, and when I mail packages to my niece and nephew, I send them with boxes and envelopes I purchase from him. I could go a couple of miles up the street to the South Deerfield post office, or I could drive to Amherst for stamps but I’d much rather use my local post office. The Amherst branch is notoriously slow and it doesn’t provide good customer service. Quite the contrary, some of the employees are grumpy and rude. They do have an automated station where you can buy a postage label after hours and I’ve used it on occasion, but if I have to interact with an actual person, I don’t do it there. At least in Sunderland, I know the post office appreciates my patronage.

     I also rallied behind our post office because I simply can’t fathom living in a town without on. Sure, I could go elsewhere to buy stamps and mail packages – heck I could even do that online (the irony of which is not lost on me), but that’s not the point. A post office connects people whether they’re in neighboring towns or across the world. At one time in our history, the post office was the only way loved ones who lived far apart could keep in touch. A letter was considered as much of a personal memento as a photograph or a calling card. The downfall of the postal service probably truly began when the telegraph was invented. After that, the telephone allowed us to instantly speak to people across long distances. Emails and text messages are just the latest devices to do so, and with the advent of the internet, bills need no longer come to us by the postal service.  A post office allows you a tangible and permanent means of communication in a world where most people interact through transient digital media. It would be overstating things to say that the connections we make through pen and paper keep us human, but I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t send a personal handwritten part of myself through the mail. Thanks to the residents of Sunderland, I don’t have to give up my passion for real letters; for the time being, when I send something through the mail, I can be assured that a cost-effective and (somewhat) reliable delivery service will provide my family with the joy and fun of receiving something that comes from my heart.

6 thoughts on “Going Postal

  1. A small town community is so important. Pretty soon, they will all be taken over with shopping malls and parking lots. Great post and congrats on saving the post office.

  2. Well said! I’m so happy for you that your PO has been saved. I’ve sent in my “vote” and comments in today. Our Community meeting is on 3/9. That’s when they’ll let us know if we’re losing our PO or just having to adjust to hours of operation changes.

  3. Good for you for speaking up and saving your post office. I couldn’t imagine living in a town with only one post office…even worse to imagine a town without a post office at all.

  4. I just commented on your InCoWriMo post, about Sunderland, not actual mail, but then I came to your blog and read this and I’m very happy to have met you. I hope you’ll consider sending me your address, postmuse is my gmail. I’d love to write to you.

    Also, I happened upon this blog post this morning, http://janedavies-collagejourneys.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-post-office.html about a little post office in Vermont that needs some help. The author is looking for mailart, but I suspect she would be just as thrilled with a note.

  5. I write to my 86 year old mother twice a week. She writes about that many times, unless she forgets! Smile! I would be behind saving the post office, too! Great post with a bit of your passion and beliefs shared here, too!

    • Thanks, so far our post office is safe. I probably sent several hundred letters last year thanks to the InCoWriMo challenge at fpgeeks.com. I’ve really enjoyed the letter writing and using all my fountain pens/paper/ink.

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