Thursday, April 05, 2012

Please Mr. Postman

After the President of the United States, Patrick R. Donahoe, the Postmaster General is the highest paid U.S. government official, earning $276,840. Not, I think, a lot of money for someone presiding over a doomed institution.

A couple of years ago I heard an interview on NPR with John Potter, the then-Postmaster General. Mr. Potter was talking at length about the glowing future of the Post Office, with revenue mostly derived from delivering those catalogues that no one reads anyway. I didn’t believe him. Now the Postal Service has announced that it lost $5.1 billion in the past year. Solution? Keep raising the cost of first class mail. England has the same problem, which they intend to solve in a similar fashion—1st class postage goes from 44p to 60p and 2nd from 37p to 50p. Do these guys take the same economics class?

Now I love receiving letters. I love writing letters. I have just ordered new paper from Paper Direct with blue flowers around the edge and on the envelope. My summer stationery. I use different designs for different seasons, though I admit I have to type these days. When I first left England you can imagine how eagerly I checked my mailbox every day.  And I still do, but let me tell you, Mr. Donohoe, if God didn’t want me to send e-mail, he wouldn’t have given me ten fingers. It is getting more and more convenient to pay bills on-line and even though I get those heavy catalogs in the mail, I very rarely look at them when I can see the same merchandise on my screen.

Which brings me to the real subject of this post—the legacy we received some time ago from Ernie’s brother. Postage stamps. Starting in the early sixties, their mother began collecting stamps. Sheets of them. I think she started getting serious with the issue of JFK commemoratives. I don’t think she was super interested in the space program, but she couldn’t avoid the many designs and denominations. I suspect that every time a new stamp was issued she went down to the Post Office and bought a sheet or two and often a plate block too.  Sometime later Bob began his stamp collection, collecting in a similar fashion, so it seemed logical that on the death of their mother, Bob received all the stamps. Over the years he added to it and it looked like parishioners, at a loss for what to give him for Christmas or his birthday, contributed more sheets to the cache. When he died the collection was enormous. Only one set had any value. The rest were worth merely their face value. Bob’s three siblings took an approximate third each and I gave part of our share to our five children. 
The rest I used, and for the past year we have not bought any stamps, except for Christmas ones, though we inherited many of those too. The experience has been great for honing my arithmetic skills as I figured out which sum of denominations amounted to first class postage. It has probably made us very unpopular with whoever has the job of making sure each letter has sufficient postage. The job is getting harder now, since we have used most of the larger denominations. I have about ten sheets of 3¢ stamps and they only work with large envelopes.

But don’t worry, Mr. Donohoe. I will do my part. I will continue to write “real” letters, and you can rest assured I will watch out the window around noon each day, singing quietly.

1 comment:

Maggie May said...

I also love writing and receiving handwritten letters but I think that we are in the minority now and very soon everyone will be priced out of posting anything. It is a great pity.
It is fascinating to look through stamp collections. You have some fine ones.
Glad you are back on line.
Maggie X

Nuts in May