Sunday, September 30, 2007

Where was I when the postage rate changed.....twice?

I don't mail things very often.

I found out just how odd mail was today when I was making out a birthday card.

Years ago, I decided to start giving online cards only. There really is no point in paper cards, unless you are attending a party, then you just HAND the person their card.

Think about it.

Everyone in my family from my oldest uncle to my youngest cousin has email (except for my oldest cousin's family who only recently got a computer I hear.... an archaic family in this day and age). Besides, everyone I know checks their email multiple times per day. If they are anything like me then in contrast, they also do NOT check their US mail everyday. I let my "real" mail pile up on the back seat of my car where I dump it until the weekend when I can sit and sort through it and file stuff and shred stuff appropriately.
My fiance' Ed only walks to his mailbox at most twice a week... unless he knows something special is coming....

So ecards are much nicer to get. The recipient gets pinged at work usually and opens a nice email wishing them happy birthday. What a nice surprise! That's much nicer than getting a paper cut from riping open the envelope as you open the mail on the kitchen counter.

Ecards usually have animations, music and often are interactive with FLASH video or even interactive games. Far superior to a paper card.

The other thing to think about is what do you DO with all the paper cards? You have to prioritize the card saving based on beauty? the giver? the thought? whether or not the giver wrote in it? What makes a card worthy of saving forever? And DO you save it forever? Is it okay to throw a card away? Can you throw away a card from your mother? your best friend? your husband? What IS the protocol on card archiving? And if you can't throw away a card from your mother this year, then how many years do you keep it before it's okay to toss it? Is it never okay to toss it? I would need a special closet to keep my old cards had I always kept them. Jeez!

And then there are the cards that are given as "the gift". I have a few family members who give the card like it is the gift. Can I ever throw those away? I was always raised to view cards as kinda the label on a gift or if you weren't going to see the person to actually give a gift, then it was mailed to let them know that if you had been able to see them on their birthday that you might have given them a gift too. "Hey I actually remembered your birthday!"
That is what a card was for. But it wasn't "the gift". I have a couple of people in my family that gave cards like "the gift". One would call, "did you get my card?" I was always worried that there might have been money in there and I didn't see it. (was I supposed to send a thank you card for the card???)

So, this blog started as a commentary on how little I pay attention to the "real" mail.
I dug stamps out of my drawer where I keep envelopes (haven't needed those in months), and I tried to remember when the last time I mailed something that didn't have a postage paid, pre-printed envelope. Even those, I guessed, I have only mailed about 2 in the past 6 months. Wow.

I pulled the adhesive backed flag stamp off the waxy paper and looked at the price. Dang! Stamps were expensive. $0.37 !
I knew the rate had gone up recently because I remember Ed mentioning it to me when I had to mail something else over a month ago. He donated the lovely, Navajo jewelry 2-cent stamps for the rate hike. He had extras. I added the amount to the $0.37 to total $0.39 cents on the envelope.
This birthday card was going to Korea to Ed's sister. I thought that being in a foreign land would make her a bit homesick for birthday cards and perhaps a mailed one would be more welcome. I was going to use my stashed away stamps.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that $0.39 cents seemed odd. I racked my brain trying to remember if the postage rate had gone up TWICE since I last bought a book of stamps.
Could it have gone up twice without me even knowing?

All my bills are direct payment or online payment. I haven't mailed a check in what seemed like a million years! If it wasn't a direct billing or PayPal or online payment then it didn't exist in my world. I realized that I had no idea how much stamps cost... only that it was more than $0.37.
I went online to the US Postal Service website. Did you know that it is nearly impossible to find out how much stamps cost from their website? They just don't tell you ... they assume that you just KNOW.I finally found the current postage rate by pretending I was going to buy stamps online. There, on there "stamp store" page was a little picture of a stamp in the shape of a triangle and it said, "41 cents The Settlement of Jamestown". DANG.

Boy, stamps really had gone up twice without me knowing it.

I wondered how many other people are out there without this knowledge. My world is so Internet centered, that I honestly had no clue until tonight.


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