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Myk3y

The worldwide decline can be attributed - the postal service.

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An occasional Grumpy Old Man Missive:

As a regular user of the postal services over the last fifty or so years, I've noticed that as countries improve, so their postal services decline.

When we lived in the UK we had amazing speed and efficiency, but they only delivered on alternate days and if you weren't home at precisely the time they wanted to deliver, you had to schlep to the nearest postal services centre, which invariably occupied the cheapest building on some dodgy industrial estate alongside burned-out Renault Clio's, feral dogs and teenagers and was one;y open during one very small window that coincided with you not being at your place of work - usually Saturday morning between 9.30 and 11.30 am - which is ground-zero for a busy urban family with sports-minded children and a packed social schedule.

In the US the postal deliveries were more accommodating, but there was always the added charges from overseas, which added to the time and cost of shipping.

Canada and Australia seem to think that overseas post is a valid revenue stream and will charge you $24 for handling a $7 item that was a gift in the first place.

Funnily enough, the best places for service (if not timeliness) is the third world. The posties are friendly and will stop for a chat, the post ladies in the post office are the centre of the local information hub and want to know everything about you - 'So who is Kate? Is she your other wife or your daughter? What does she do in Nottingham? Is she married? I wonder if she knows my cousin Noorida - she went to Nottingham university. How many children do you have? How many grandchildren? What is your home city?' They have no shame or guile - it's their role to be informed. And it works well. If I have to go to the Pos Sentral to pick up a parcel that needs customs clearance, I drive the 45kms and walk in the door and it's like Cheers - everybody knows your name. I suppose it has a lot to do with the fact that we are the only white people for many miles around, and the only ones in our particular village. I also think it helps that we aren't 'oil people' - they seem to be a bit bossy and dismissive of the locals, where we are firmly embedded in the village. Not for us an expat enclave with gates and guards.

So, while it might take a month for a parcel or letter to arrive, you know that as soon as it has arrived, if I need to clear it they will ring my phone and let me know, or send me a text message, or pop a note in my letterbox.

Contrast this with the 'western' services from the likes of FedEx, DHL, USPS, UPS and the like: they are FAST, but they are not friendly or efficient or honest.

I was expecting a five-day parcel from the UK from FedEx. It was due on Wednesday, and I had forgotten about it, but when I remembered I went and checked the tracking. Apparently it was delivered already. This is the normal behaviour of such companies - mark it as delivered as soon as it arrives so you can keep your efficiency figures up, and more importantly, retain your franchise. So I ring their depot and ask why it was marked as delivered when it hasn't been, and you get all the usual excuses - 'we tried to deliver but your office was closed' - my 'office' is in my house, I'm always home and the office is always open. 'There was nobody there to sign for it' - but I'm always here, unless I'm at the post office, which is 600m from my house. And we would see the Fedex van - only one road into and out of the village. Nothing much happens that doesn't get noted by the locals. If I had missed a delivery, my neighbour would have trotted over to a) tell me I had missed a delivery or ii) present me with the delivery which he had accepted with great respect and honour, on my behalf.

I'm not looking forward to the day that the Pos becomes efficient - I foresee the decline of civilisation, if history is anything to go by.

The next thing you know there'll be skateboarding 'yoof', banging, subwoofer-assisted 'toons' and a general lack of respect for ones elders.

Carry on.

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  1. Winston's Avatar
    Like everything else, communication has become automated and impersonal. The Postal Service was the last bastion of people-centric communication. A person wrote the letter. Another person carried the letter. Finally, you read the letter. Then, perhaps you respond. Place a pen on paper, lick and seal an envelope. All very visceral.
    Now we get computer generated emails, that our computers sort, and we "click" on, or not. And, in no time, a drone will be dropping your parcel on your porch. Leave some cookies for the drone, if you like.
    Many writers have broached the topic of an Artificial Intelligence takeover. Of all the methods that A.I. may conquer us, one victory is often overlooked.
    They are simply turning us into them.
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