I'm a letter carrier and I love my job, but I hated today. Today was not only the first day of icy sidewalks to navigate, it was also the day that Canada Post announced that you would lose the service of getting your mail delivered to your door and that my job of delivering it will be a thing of the past. Canada Post employees found out about this not through a corporate bulletin, not from a staff meeting, but through a press release. I personally found out about this when a friend said "You looking for a new job yet?"
Today broke my heart. I have always wanted to be a letter carrier, but since I became one, I haven't always been called that. I've been referred to as a "physical email mover," a "femailman" (not sure how that makes sense, guy on Brunswick, but thanks for trying) and my favourite, a "lovely letter lady." However, my current official title is "delivery agent." (It sounds more glamourous than it is.) What it means is that they don't want to associate letter carriers with the actual carrying of letters anymore. And it's true, delivering your mail is not all that we do: we also deliver your parcels, clear retail postal outlets and street letter boxes and perform business pickups.
But we. Are. Busy. We are not an obsolete company and we are not a burden on the taxpayer. We are funded 100 percent on our own revenues, not your tax dollars. We have made a large (like hundreds of millions of dollars large) profit in 17 of the last 18 years, and even last year, our first year in the red, 7,402 performance bonuses were still paid out, so we can't be doing too badly. Our job has changed with the times and will continue to change with the times but we will still not be obsolete. The service we provide is essential and not only would stopping door-to-door service be unnecessary, it would also drastically damage it.
But it hasn't come to that yet. And because it hasn't happened yet, we can only do our best to see that it won't.
I am not stuck in an adverse mindset of "I hate change!" nor am I just trying to protect my job. I'm trying to maintain a life where you can rely on public services. Where people aren't sold out for profit. Where you can look the person responsible for your presents, passports and paycheques in the eye and say, "Hey Melanie, how are ya?"
There is more to my job than sliding flyers through a slot. My job is to deliver you a better world. As young, hip and accessible as we believe ourselves to be, our aging population's old hips have made the world inaccessible. Although small businesses and the physically disabled need us just as much, our seniors rely more on daily delivery service than any other Canadian demographic, and they are the majority. They rely on us not only to deliver their mail, they rely on us for guaranteed human contact once a day. Do not underestimate that.
"Get the 'net!" you say? Oh, stop it with your luxury talk, it's not that simple. Many can't afford the internet and others would be overwhelmed by its complexities. (I once tried to explain 'internet' to my step-grandfather and it was ridiculous.) Combine limited income with limited mobility and the idea of cutting door-to-door service is reprehensible.
Moreover, the internet has systematically phased out human contact, and through it, a human connection. In exchange for profit and speed, we are losing the ability to make someone feel special. This world does not need more ways to make people feel isolated. While technology has vastly improved our lives in some ways, it has taken the humanity out of being a human.
Writing a letter that is delivered to your grandmother's door is not going to change any of that, but I guarantee you, it will make her motherlovin' day. And if you write "Hey mailman! How you doin?" on the envelope you'll make his day. And if you smile at the clerks who sell you stamps, you'll make their day.
A letter might be a small thing to you, but in a world of big things and big changes, it's the little things that are going to matter most. And if we lose that, we will never get it back. Save the mail. Write a letter.
Melanie Mackenzie watches birds and delivers your love letters and makes beautiful music when she can. She reminds readers that on these short winter days her eight-hour shift extends into nighttime, so please salt your sidewalks and leave your porch lights on.