I am a person who enjoys mail (or “post” as one might say here?) – sending as much as receiving. I have aligned myself with some other fellow die-hards and so I am still lucky enough to receive handwritten cards, postcards and packages (parcels?) out of the blue that make my day – most recently my parents sent Valentine’s love and Nikki sent me a goofy award we won when we were doing our feminist thang in law school. It made me laugh out loud and then I started to fret about where I would put it. This flat has got to go.
Mailing/posting is an absolute pleasure for me in the UK. Really, for two reasons, which I am condensing into one favourite thing:
the iconic red postal boxes
which are almost as iconic as red phone booths and red double-decker buses. Can we all just stop for a second and say, good on London for showing the whole world that China does not have the monopoly on red as cultural color touchstone. Now let’s resume. The red post boxes… are beautiful. Majestic in the way they stand. They stand out and prettily so. You don’t have to pull a lever or anything so one-handed mailing is very easy. Some Americans that have visited us have laughed at the two slot choices: “stamped” and “franked”. To this day, we all wonder what franked means. And Bryan, because he will never miss an opportunity to endlessly recycle a joke he has created and personally finds hilarious, says every time we walk up to one to mail something, “no wait, it’s franked.” I never laugh, don’t worry.
What I also heart so, so, so much is the quasi-privatised
network. They are a distinct and separate entity from Royal Mail (but I believe a wholly owned subsidiary of the government) and therefore run like a business. Meaning: efficient. As a post office should be. It’s amazing what happens when you run a business, rather than a government office. The clerks immediately help the next person in the queue, instead of chatting to their co-worker and giving you the look of death when you ask if they are available. Not that that used to happen to me in Brooklyn, um, every time. The Post Offices are clean and well-lit and colorfulish and basically, you don’t get terminally depressed and despondent waiting to be helped.
But best of all, you can find them INSIDE other useful businesses! I love twofers. Many Post Offices are inside stores from the chain Ryman the Stationer. (Btw, I love how British it is to have a store name and then the namesake’s trade from the 14th century… Ryman the Stationer, Robert Dyas the Ironmonger…) What this means is you can go and buy bubble envelopes and pens and art supplies and greeting cards and filing cabinets, and then you can go mail something or buy stamps. It’s kind of two favourite things in one: office supplies and mail. Or post. Whatever they call it here.