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Sunday, July 24, 2005

automated postal center

Clueless vs Queueless

~ The Joys of Automated Posting ~

I've been a bit slow on the uptake as far as our local post office's versatile automated console is concerned.

As a result of which, I've spent time queueing when I could have breezed in and out.

It goes like this:

  • I type a letter to family or pals overseas and at the last minute decide to slip in a photo or some cutting from the Review.
  • I keep a store of 80¢ stamps for these mailings, but as soon as I introduce an insert I start worrying that I've weighted it into the next price bracket.
  • I apply the 80¢er and, instead of popping it into the mailbox by Rite-Aid, I walk all the way down to the Winslow Way office where I join the queue with the sole purpose of asking if I've applied adequate stampage. Invariably, I have.

    To while away my progress up the queue, I've gazed myopically back down towards that multi-menu'd console but never examined it closely. Today I did and, good heavens ... it has everything.

    cardboard cut-outSpecifically for me, it has a scale on which to place my letter and alphabetic buttons to press for the country, at which point the correct stamp amount flashes up on the screen.

    Just to the right of the machine is a disconcertingly life-like cut-out for which I kept having to stop myself stepping aside or apologizing for taking so long ...

    Language Differences: The epistolary field is a vocabulary minefield on both sides of the Atlantic:

    When we first arrived in Bainbridge, we rented a cottage on Blakely Avenue with one of those roadside collection boxes so favored round graduation time for batting practice en voiture . I was walking out one morning and met a neighbor who greeted me with his customary disconcerting "What's up?" (Being British, nothing ever *is* up, so I'm always at a bit of a loss how best to answer that one). Anyway, in this case I had the perfect answer, that I was "Just checking the post."

    Well, damn me if the honest rustic didn't shoot me an odd look and, happening to be standing next to some sturdy fencing, gave it a genial kick before reassuring me that, "Yup, still there. Still holding up."

    Meanwhile, when I visit the UK and talk of "checking the mail", I'm subjected to childish limp-wristed gestures and foppish moues. Just can't win.

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