“The postage stamp is a flimsy thing no thicker than a beetle’s wing, and yet it will roam the world for you exactly where you tell it to.”—E V Lucas
Destination: A Small Town Post Office, MA [U.S.A.]
I decided today to venture to the post office that is cleverly located minutes from where I am currently abiding. I like to think that it was cleverly located there by clever locals who, upon hearing I was coming, cleverly located it in its current clever location because they were clever enough to know it would be the core life source for the duration of my stay at this location. The post office itself was teensy -- not much bigger than a public bathroom at the beach, but it was full to the brim with character; and characters.
If I might, I'd like to just take a quick moment here to inform you of what it is about stamps and mail that makes it such a wonderful thing to be passionate about. Being a traveller, I'm constantly experiencing new things and adding memories to my "Mem-thora" (Plethora of Memories); and it is a pleasure of mine to be able to share such experiences with those dear to me. I love writing letters, as the concept that my words will never be lost in passing, or forgotten, or misconstrued, brings me incomprehensible joy. And there is a beauty in the global mail service. Receiving a piece of mail that bears your name at a singular location in the world is truly unfathomable, if thought about enough -- which I do. The idea that numbers and characters thrown onto an envelope will arrive in your hands, wherever you might be, within weeks is absolutely mind-boggling. But the wonderful things inside the letter would never get where they need to if the ever important postage stamp did not grace aforementioned envelope.
Let us return to the teensy post office.
The United States Postal Service has been in its current operation since 1971 (although it has been "in action" since 1775 with Ben Franklin as its' first postmaster general), and employs over 574,000 workers. The current price for a First-Class mail stamp is now sitting at 45 cents. I send mail to various locations in Australia, America, Europe and New Zealand as it stands, and my cash flow is cut off bi-monthly (either twice a month, or once every two months; depending on the month) by my postage stamp splurges. I have a collection of in-circulation postage stamps, and mix'n'match them for each piece of mail sent.
Which brings me back to the post office.
Todays' journey only called for sending two letters, a postcard and a small package, so I wasn't too out of pocket. The post office space itself had enough room for the front desk, a self-serve side desk, a chair and a small wall bracket full of various postal regulatory paraphernalia. It was one of the cosiest things ever; all that was missing was a rocking chair, some tea-cups and my great-aunt, Jill. Behind the desk stood an older gentleman, with the signature Post Office employee uniform bearing the USPS logo -- a personal favourite of mine. To his left sat a collection of postage stamps in colour coded boxes, rubber date-stamps, packing tape and Express Delivery sticker rolls.
It was fabulous.
I didn't bring enough moola with me to buy any extra postage stamps (dang that "destination:Australia" package!!) but I did happen to peek behind the desk and see a copy of USA Philatelic ("The official source for stamp enthusiasts") sitting on the counter, ready to be placed in the expertly located "Recycling!!" bin. Bill (-- while the gentleman did not receive this name at birth, and probably not from anyone since, I feel the need to affectionately refer to him as Bill, as well as all other male USPS employees, due to the fact that it seems such a fitting name for a man who spends his days handling the paper, and cardboard, magic of the universe. For all female USPS employees, I'd like to adopt the name "Jill"--) was a real beaut when I asked if I might be able to have his copy of the magazine, and handed it to me with complete trust. (Oh, postal employees -- they're of a whole other breed; and I relish it.)
Since then, I have spent my day reading and re-reading the pages of the "2012/VOLUME 17/QUARTER 1" Comprehensive Edition USA Philatelic. I've circled my favourites; stamps that I just HAVE to purchase and use before I head back home. Current favourites are either the "$1.05 Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania" stamp, "$0.85 Birds of Prey" stamp, "$Forever$ Danny Thomas" stamp, or "$Forever$ Pioneers of American Industrial Design" stamp. They are SWEET. The thing that makes my heart palpitate the most is USING THEM.
"The time shall come," melodically whispers the evanescent Bill.
I must say, these American post offices have got it GOING ON. I have never felt so completely warmed by government employees in my life. The local employee at my hometown in Sydney could take a leaf from Bill/Jill's book.
A whole other breed -- of wonderful. And dang; those stamps are legit.
I must return to the pile of letters sitting at my feet, waiting patiently to be given replies. In order to send them, I'm going to need to invest in some more postage stamps. I'm stuck between the $Forever$'s -- Danny Thomas, or Pioneers of American Design.
Maybe Bill can give me a hand.
~ Ms. Always Travelling