S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen
owlfish

Postlessness

About a week and a half ago, the UK postal service went on strike for better pensions, among other things. It was the first of two 48 hour strikes. In theory, this meant the strikes were over as of Wednesday, although there's now due to be another one next Tuesday and several unofficial strikes in between.

Businesses are the first places to receive mail. Many of them have had their post delivered in the past few days. Residential properties, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the delivery heap. Our building has had no mail delivered in a week and a half, and is not expecting any to be likely forthcoming until later next week.

Mail isn't (usually) a matter of life and death, and I respect the rights of the unions to go on strike. This isn't about that. I'm not even waiting on any urgent tickets/passports/licenses/paperwork/bills that I know of, the things which would make me impatient for my mail to come.

Most of the meaningful things I receive in the post are journals and magazines, at least one a week between the food magazines and the academic journals and their supplementary newsletters. They don't arrive on any specific day of the week, the way a weekly magazine might. They come as solicited surprises, points of physical contact with a wider world of thought, colleagiality, and criticism. They are supplement to my general day-to-day lack of interaction with present colleagues. (I teach online. The other members of my department are in another country.) They come with reproductions of old prints or glossy farm photography; they come with informative booklets on new books from a particular publisher, or an unexpected free spatula.

Sometimes the post brings - best of all - letters or postcards, small notes which show a friend or family member was thinking of me, including me in their travels or a lazy afternoon. Keeping in touch via email usually results in more copious and up-to-date news, but it doesn't have the immediacy of a friend's handwriting, or the physicality of an object I can prop up for display or tuck away for safekeeping.

Of course there are bills and statements and unsolicited advertisements and other less notable instances of post. But there is almost always something waiting for me in the mailbox.

Except that for the past week and a half there isn't. C. went away for work for the week, leaving me the mailbox key to no avail. No letters, no statements, no journals.

It doesn't gnaw at me the way I thought it might, impatient for that contact with swathes of the world I don't otherwise regularly reach. I've been comparing it to the '97 UPS strike, when, for several weeks, I learned just how dependant on just-on-time delivery modern commecial operations are. Flowers and fruit were only the most obvious examples. Banks ran out of application forms when their usual method of receiving them from their centralized printing services stopped working.

I have noticed almost no mention of the postal strike my UK LJ f'list, which makes me suspect that many of you are content, for now, in your waiting too.
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