Warehouse D
Contemporary Dinosaur?
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Who Ever Thought We Would Pay 42 Cents To Mail A Letter?


By James Donahue


I collected stamps as a hobby when I was a young lad. Those were the days when there was such a thing as a penny postcard and the cost of sending a letter was only three cents. You could get speedy air mail for a dime.


The stamp collecting continued when a line of new and colorful stamps emerged, even as the rates climbed by degrees every so many years. We knew it involved inflation and the rising cost of doing business, paying people to handle all that mail, and buying those complex machines that sort our mail.


And we can understand the need for the extra penny this spring because most mail is now carried by truck or aircraft, and the price of fuel is going through the roof. They don’t use pony express anymore.


We have lived in a lot of different places and moved a lot of mail over the years. My wife and I usually have had good relationships with our local mail carriers. They have often gone out of their way to do special favors when they know important mail is on its way.


This is why we worry when we see the price of postage going so high, knowing that most mail, and even bill-paying, is being sent electronically via the Internet these days. We can almost foresee a day when the postal system will be priced completely out of business.


We noticed a story on the Ecogeek web site this week suggesting that it may already be possible to avoid the postal system completely by utilizing the Internet and other systems of carrying packages.


The story noted that even scanned legal documents are beginning to be accepted when sent by e-mail. They have to be sent via special services like Adobe Reader. And while most companies accept electronic bill payments, the few that don’t may still accept PayPal, which also can be done on line.


Even greeting cards can be sent on line, although the gesture can be somewhat impersonal when it arrives that way. The writer suggests using a computer art and image program, combining photographs and personal art work to give the card a personalized touch.


Video letters also are growing in popularity. With most homes now equipped with video cameras, home movies can be easily produced, and then sent electronically to friends and family.