Thursday, July 5, 2007

Please, Mr. Postman

Now that the 4th is over, I would like to send out a big screw you to the Postal Service, who waited until just after I bought my save-the-date stamps to roll out the new, 41-cent "Wedding" design. Cute stamps are one of my favorite things about this great nation of ours. And the ability to buy said stamps online is another of my favorite things. Seriously, people, there's no line, and you can pick the ones you want! No more endless waits at the bricks-and-mortar post office, along with every other out-of-work person in your neighborhood! (The last time I was at the post office, mailing a package, a woman ahead of me in the line called the police because some men, also in line, were bothering her. She felt threatened enough by whatever they did to call the police, but she didn't get out of the line. And the worst part was, I arrived after all this happened, so I only got to see the part where the police showed up and rolled their eyes at everyone involved.) No more icy refusals from the lady behind the counter when you ask if they have something other than flags, like perhaps those new Ella Fitzgerald stamps advertised on the poster right behind her! No more vending machines that load you down with Sacagawea dollars! And the shipping, the price you pay to avoid all that, is only $1! So worth it.

I usually enjoy my online stamp-buying experience, at least in comparison to the usual in-person experience, but thanks to the recent rate increase, I had few options when it came time to buy stamps for our first big wedding-related mailing. It's not bad enough that I have a desk drawer full of fun 37- and 39-cent stamps (the Muppets, Judy Garland, children's storybook characters) that I now must combine with those ugly 2-cent Navajo Necklace rate-increase stamps... Now I have to send out all my save-the-dates with boring flags and Liberty Bells. (I would even have been happy with the Pollination stamps, but they hadn't been released yet, either. And that's just as well, because nobody wants to get that ugly bat in their mailbox.) So I spent my Independence Day contemplating these symbols of our freedom and grumbling, because I liked the doves better. Hell, I even liked the American Diplomats better.

When I was finally finished stamping and stuffing and sealing and such, I checked the USPS site again, for some reason, and that's when I saw the new "Wedding" stamps. Thanks a lot, Postal Service. I did learn some interesting facts about this rate change, though, which I'd like to share with you, because either I'm not exposed to enough reliable sources of news (very likely), or this whole postal-rate mess has been under-explained and under-advertised to all of us. Last year, the standard 2-ounce wedding invitation cost 63 cents to send (and the response envelope was the regular 39). Now the base rate has been increased, but the rate for the second ounce has decreased, so the invitation will only cost 58 cents. Woo hoo, this wedding won't bankrupt us after all! Of course, that assumes you don't mind the horrible pink color of the stamp. Bleh.

And I learned something else that's much more exiting, especially for those of you not stuck in the parallel universe of wedding planning. Along with my coil of boring-old-flag-stamps, I bought a bunch of Liberty Bell stamps that say "USA FIRST CLASS FOREVER" along the side. I assumed this was just standard jingoism, like "UNITED WE STAND" or "THESE COLORS DON'T RUN" or "THE USA IS THE BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD AND YOUR COUNTRY ISN'T." But, in fact, these Liberty Bell stamps are valid first-class postage... forever. That means you can buy a bunch now, and then, when the rate goes up another 2 cents next year, you'll still be able to use them! Everybody else will be paying 43 cents, but not you! And 60 years from now, when mailing a postcard costs $2.73 and very old people are the only ones who bother, you will still be able to use them! Even if they've lost their stickiness, and even if the Liberty Bell doesn't exist anymore, your "Forever" stamps will still be good. So says the Post Office. I just hope you don't get sick of looking at the Liberty Bell.

No comments: