Every time I send an e-mail message to someone, my husband gives me a look that plainly tells me he thinks I’m a traitor – the Benedict Sally of letter writers.
You see, he’s a retired postal worker, so to him, e-mail is a four-letter word.
“You’re contributing to the demise of the US Postal Service,” he frequently tells me. “What happened to the days when you used to buy boxes of pretty stationery, envelopes and stickers, and you hand-wrote letters to everyone?”
“I guess I just enjoy getting an immediate response to my letters,” I usually answer. “I mean, before e-mail, I’d send a letter by regular mail and it would take five days to get to its destination and another five days to get a response back. That’s 10 days! Now, I can get an answer in less than10 minutes.”
“So what’s the big rush?” he asks.
“Well, for example, when my friends overseas write to tell me they’re sick or about to have surgery, by the time I send them a get-well card by regular mail, they’re already healthy and off somewhere on vacation! But with e-mail, I can send an immediate electronic get-well card, while they still actually need get-well wishes.”
“Yeah, but you can’t put an electronic card on the night-stand next to your bed like a real card!”
Back in the days before e-mail, my hobby was writing to penpals all over the world. At one point, I was writing to nearly 100. I would sit in front of the TV every night, a pad of paper on my lap, and write letters until bedtime. Each letter contained basically the same information, so I’d write the same thing over and over again, as if I were a human copy-machine…with impending carpal-tunnel syndrome.
And then there were all of the birthday, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Saint Swithin’s Day cards I had to buy and send to each of my 100 penpals. I’d say I pretty much single-handedly kept the local post office in business back then, mainly because I was going through rolls of stamps faster than Elizabeth Taylor was going through husbands.
Even my mail carrier used to joke that she was going to have to buy a hernia truss because of all the mail she had to lift into my mailbox. Now, I receive so few pieces of mail, I actually found a hornets’ nest in our mailbox last week.
I, however, do still pay my bills by regular mail. I write out checks the old-fashioned way, stuff them into envelopes, affix the stamps, and mail them. And every time I do, I am sent reminders by the company or bank to “Save a stamp, pay online,” as if I’ve done something bad. So far, I haven’t given in to the temptation of electronic bill-paying, which greatly pleases my husband.
“And don’t ever complain about receiving too much junk mail,” he reminded me for the umpteenth time just the other day…after he’d watched a news report that said the Postal Service was losing about $25 million per day. “Junk mail is gold! It helps pay my pension. So I say, bring it on – by the ton!”
“Well, then you’ll be happy to know that today,” I said, “we received two brochures about hearing aids, one about motorized wheelchairs, and another one offering us ‘you-cannot-be-refused’ life insurance!”
I didn’t dare mention that I’d also received 308 pieces of junk mail on my computer – everything from offers for a singles’ dating service for the over-50 crowd, to belly-dancing classes – because I didn’t think he could handle knowing how much revenue those 308 e-mails might have generated for the Postal Service if they’d have been sent the old-fashioned way.
So, even though I am ashamed to admit it, I am guilty of sitting in front of the TV every night and writing letters on my laptop computer now instead of using my trusty pen and pad of paper…and my wrist is thanking me for it.
“What are you doing?” my husband always asks, eyeing me suspiciously, whenever he sees me using my computer.
“Playing solitaire,” I answer, in the middle of writing, “Hi, Laura! How’s the weather in Washington?”
I figure what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
It’s that time of year again when I show my appreciation to my readers by celebrating the anniversary of my column (this month marks my 18th year!) with a contest and prizes. For a chance to win a $50 gift card good at any Applebee’s restaurant, or one of three runner-up prizes, simply send your name, address and phone number to: Sally’s Anniversary Contest, PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585, or you can enter online by sending the information to: firstname.lastname@example.org and entitling it “Contest Entry.” Entries must be received by September 5. Enter as often as you’d like!