Written By: Leslie Means
It’s taken a few years, but last week I finally caught up with the 21st century. I bought a new cell phone that lets me browse the Web, check my email and update my Facebook page. It’s a far cry from the flip phone I purchased four years ago. It only took a few hours to become addicted to this new piece of technology and now, unfortunately, I have a hard time putting it down.
If I find myself stuck in a long line at the grocery store, I don’t cringe about the excessive wait. I just pull out my smart phone to pass the time. If I arrive early to a meeting, I have a few extra minutes to update my Facebook status. Even long trains at crossings don’t bother me now because — you guessed it — I just grab my phone to check email and update my Twitter account while I wait for the trains to pass.
With technology changing rapidly, I imagine it’s hard for some to remember what it was like before the Internet. And while I am an advocate for social media and the latest technology the world has to offer, I can’t help but feel a bit saddened by the loss of something for which I have very fond memories, my rural route mailbox.
During the summer of 1990 my sister, Lisa, headed to camp in Boston. Before she left I promised to write to her every day during the weeks she was gone. She also promised to write when she could, and thus began my love for the U.S. Postal Service.
Every morning I ran to the end of the driveway to place the letter I promised my sister in our big silver rural route mailbox. Sometimes I had no stamp, so I taped a couple of dimes and a few pennies to the letter. Our mailman made sure it received proper postage.
As the summer went by, I looked forward to opening the mailbox each day to receive a note from my sister. I was excited the morning I opened the mailbox to find a colored envelope with duck stickers inside sent all the way from Boston.
That simple piece of mail still makes me smile.
As the years went on, more memories arrived in the mailbox. It held my first love letter from a boy I met at summer camp, birthday cards and Valentine’s Day gifts. Our local newspaper, which highlighted many of my school activities, also arrived in the mailbox.
When the time came for college, my dormitory mailbox delivered doses of comfort from home. A giddy feeling rushed over me each time my parents sent a letter or care package.
And during the fall of 2004, when I was a young, soon-to-be bride, I rushed outside each morning down our long driveway back home. I would open that same old silver mailbox to see who had returned RSVPs for the wedding.
These memories are why, when I hear the mailman pull up at my home, I still feel the excitement that I felt for so many years. Even though most of the time my mail holds only bills and the occasional piece of junk mail, every once in a while I’ll discover a handwritten letter, and I feel as if I’m a little girl getting a colored envelope with duck stickers.
Instant communication is marvelous. It can put us in touch with anyone around the world. But technology cannot create the same feelings as an old-fashioned letter. Receiving virtual duck stickers via email, a text or Facebook isn’t half as cool as the real thing.
Inspired by today’s column, a few readers may want to write me. When I receive their letters in the mail, I’ll be sure to take a picture and upload them instantly to my Facebook page to let you know all about it.
Read more from Leslie @ The Kearney Hub