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Yesterday I returned home from the office to find an enormous packet, wrapped in plastic, on the front porch–a set of catalogs from Restoration Hardware so big that, as the postman had apparently discovered, it wouldn’t fit inside our mailbox.
This made me angry. I didn’t ask for these catalogs. Far from it. The last time anyone in our family set foot in Restoration Hardware must have been six or seven years ago when I bought some towel hangers for the kids’ bathroom–and resolved, after paying what struck me as a staggering sum for some metal hoops finished in chrome, never to return. But this packet of catalogs arrived all the same.
It contained not one or two but five catalogs I did not and do not want: RH Outdoor & Garden, RH Interiors, RH Tableware, RH Small Spaces, and–no, I’m not making this up–RH Objects of Curiosity. I was so angry that I carried the packet inside, then climbed on the bathroom scale with it and once again without it and then calculated the difference: six pounds. Six pounds!
If a teenager had dropped six pounds of garbage on my front yard, he would have committed an act of vandalism and I could have called the police. But as long as they do so through an agent of the federal government–namely, our postman, who, come to think of it, had to be even unhappier to tote that six-pound packet than I was to receive it– the marketing department at Restoration Hardware may dump six pounds of garbage in front of my house entirely legally.
Note further that FedEx and UPS only deliver items to my house that I have ordered or that have come from people I know–not once have I ever found myself heaving an item from a private delivery service into the recycling bin. But the United States Postal Service? Amid the odd item that I truly want, mounds of junk mail, six days a week.
Does this make sense?
It can’t–it just can’t.
The solution? Well, I’m not sure–to tell you the truth, I have yet to calm down enough to think it through. But if caller ID enables me to pick up the telephone only when someone calls to whom I truly wish to speak, and spam filters enable me to receive only emails I really want, then why should it lie beyond the wit of man to develop some sort of filtering system for mail?
For that matter, if in this age of FedEx, UPS and Internet we abolished the U.S. Postal Service altogether, what would we really be losing? I’m not saying we should abolish the postal service–as I say, I haven’t thought this through just yet. But I repeat: What would we really lose if we did so?
And now you’ll excuse me. I have to take six pounds of garbage out to the recycling bin.Published in