Last night I was caught off guard by this commercial:
I went from happily sipping whiskey and watching Chopped to the wanting to curl up under a quilt and cry.
This little thirty second ad said only one thing to me: The Post is in danger.
Now... you might have seen me around on the internet. I spend a lot of time there. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, this blog, your inbox, your mom's inbox. I get around online. I'm not ashamed of it. I've met friends, enemies, girlfriends, experts, celebrities, and probably your mom online that I likely would not ever have bumped into in any other way. The internet is my medium. I get it. I use it.
But. It's not the post.
The post is dreamy and romantic and personal and requires effort.
I can sit in my office and write you an email that says, "I'm thinking about you today."
You'll get the email in seconds. You'll smile, maybe, then it's done.
If I, on the other hand, write the very same message, "I'm thinking about you today." in a card or on a piece of stationery, seal it in an envelope, hunt down your address and a stamp, drive the whole lot to the post office (because my apartment pick-up is unreliable), and send it off in your direction, then you'll receive it in a very different way.
You'll get my card, open it, and know that for at least a bit of one day, I was thinking only about you and the piece of mail that would literally travel from my hands to yours. And then for weeks when you see it on your fridge or maybe a year later when it shows up in a junk drawer, you'll know that I was thinking about you then and just might be thinking about you again.
And... if the piece of mail is from me... then you might be able to tell that instead of spending minutes on your mail, I actually spent hours. Gluing paper, revising wording, baking treats, compiling songs, what have you.
Whatever the case... mailing something to someone means a lot more to me than sending them a text, a message on Facebook, a tweet. Those are daily. Those are tired.
The post. The post is where it's at.
It's no secret that this love of the post was passed down to me by my mom. My mom sends me roughly one card per week. Some weeks there's more than one. Some weeks (very rare) there isn't one at all.
Her cards range from the sincere to the bizarre.
Some of my favorites include the congratulations on my ballet recital and the mazel tov on my son's bris. Also the "Love being your sister" and the countless "Happy Birthday"s covered up with hearts and flowers and swirlies.
The common thread woven through these often silly cards is the fact the my mom loves me and that she thinks about me in a deliberate, focused way at least once a week.
Even so... I'm not the only person who benefits from my mom's postal expressions of love.
My brother, sister, boyfriend, and even some friends benefit from the occasional card. She recently sent one to a close friend of mine that featured a hotdog on the front and the inscription, "Bet you didn't think you'd get a wiener today!"
Don't you wish you were on her list now?
What I'm saying is... I love the post. Always have.
As a kid, I thought having a British pen pal was the best thing I could ever want out of life. As an adult, I've only slightly revised that idea.
My mom fuels my love for the post through her regular mailings. And I do my best to send notes and packages around as often as possible.
The thought that the USPS might be in such dire straights that they need to convince us to use paper in a world that begs us to go paperless is upsetting.
I've long thought of the post as the government's polite, "I'm going that way, would you like me to take that?" and I'd hate to see it waste away.
So... today I'm going to write letters. And buy stamps. And drop mail into the box knowing full well it will reach its destination and make one person feel good. Or better. Or something. Because that's what I do with the power of the post.
What do you mail?