Ian Anderson 6 p.m., July 29
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21st Century Mailing
The post office and I have become quite acquainted over the past couple months, after I finished self-publishing my second book and needed to send it out to those who ordered it through PayPal. I was going to the Chula Vista Post Office for the first month, but then I decided to start going to the smaller Bonita Post Office on the way to my place of employment. I’ve been going there to send my book out to people every few days, and now know exactly how much it costs to send a large envelope with exactly 8.80 oz. in it (my soft cover book). Well actually, I should say I knew how much it cost going to the counter to have an employee wait on me, make the stamp, and to watch them affix it to the package. It was $2.58 to send it first class, with arrival in three days. There is a cheaper way to send it, through media class, but that takes 5 to 7 days to get there. I do that with my hard cover book, because weighing over 1 lb. it would be over $5.00 to send first class in a large envelope. It is only $2.38 for me to send through media class, so I go that route for hard cover.
However if I still want to send my soft cover book first class and save money, I found that I need to cut out the middle man. I arrived at the post office too late the other day to go to the counter, although not for trying. I tried to rationalize with the woman as she was shutting the sliding iron curtain across the glass doors. I chided with her and said that I was only 16 minutes late, with a big smile on my face as we exchanged a laugh. She told me I could use the big automated machine behind me, but I was a bit leery and hesitant.
I don’t like change, and feel more comfortable when there is a human exchange involved. I’ve never even used the drive up at the bank, for heaven’s sake. The last time I went through a bank drive-up was with my mom as a kid – she got to talk to a person though, in the times before complete automation. I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea of driving up to a window and putting my money in a can and driving off. It doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies to think of doing it. I guess I just choose comfort over speed, at times, in this big world of ours.
Back to the looming large machine at the post office that I had never really noticed before. I complied with the employee’s admonishment to use it, as I really wanted to get this package out that day, and got in line behind the one person using it. She didn’t take long and then it was my turn. I followed the prompts, put my package on the scale, it shot a stamp out at me, I put in on my package, and I saved 34 cents that day. I walked out of there in less than two minutes and was a happy camper. I’d had a new experience and my days had been made easier with the knowledge that I could now mail my packages after the normal working hours, and without waiting for 15 to 20 minutes in line. Maybe automation doesn't have to feel like a cold, detached experience afterall. In fact, the ease of the transaction has been quite calming and fulfilling; more so than the superficial exchanges I had with the harried workers behind the counter.