Monday, November 5, 2012

POSTIE BLUES


Gone are the days that I could take my outgoing mail to the curb in front of my house, place it into my mailbox and hear the “screeeeech” as I push the mailbox door closed and another “screeeech” as I place the red flag up for the postman. Those of you who live in the States can relate to this, can’t you? Well, believe it or not, you are probably the only ones in the entire world who do! 

Who knew when moving to Australia that such a mundane, everyday task that I took for granted in the States would be so much different here! What makes it so unusual, you ask? What is so different that I would find the need to write an entire blog posting about it? Well…hold onto your hats…drum roll, please…We don’t have outgoing mail picked up at our homes! In fact, Australians have NEVER had such a luxury! (And I suspect most of the world!) I know…I know! Are you in as much shock and disbelief as I am? What’s even more sad is that our cute little red flags on our mailboxes are as rare as hens teeth! (An Australian expression meaning, “They don’t exist!!!”)

Once again I am faced with my own inadequacies adjusting to my new life in Oz as I sheepishly ask my Aussie husband a question that I have known the answer to most of my life. I am immediately reduced to a 6-year-old little girl in pigtails when I ask him, “How do I mail a letter?!” Let’s just say I no longer have the luxury of making a last-minute sprint for the curbside mailbox in my bathrobe and slippers…letter in hand…hurdling over the white picket fence in my front yard like the next Olympic hopeful in training before my mailman gets there! 
(Come on, you know you’ve done that, too!)

My local post office
Instead, I have to drive to the post office and wait…and wait…and wait in line (sounds like the U.S. postal service) until I hear, “Yes, please.” (Aussie speak for “next!”) As I hand the postal worker my mail over the counter, I come to the realization that I have no idea how much postage is here. But then again, postage charges change so often in the States, we hardly know how much it costs to send a first-class letter there, either! Oh well, I just wait for my total, give them money in exchange for the stamps I am handed, walk to the nearest mailbox (Aussie’s call “letterbox”) and breathe a sigh of relief that I have completed my task at hand.

We don't always have to go to the post office, though. We can load up on stamps at many stores and place letters in mailboxes around town. But what's the point? 
I already have to drive to a letterbox to drop off my mail, so I might as well go to the post office and take care of it all at one time. Besides, there's one conveniently located in the mall near my home where I do all my grocery shopping. 

An Australian "postie"
I guess that explains why the postmen/women (called "posties" in Australia) have a different form of transportation here. They all ride motorbikes (every schoolboys dream job!) with saddlebags to carry the mail. They scoot around from home to home, dressed in their fluorescent yellow clothing and their motorbikes "whirrrrring" about, delivering our mail and our all-important junk mail. I don't know how any of us would live without junk mail transforming our kitchens into a waste dump of "need-to-be-recycled" piles of paper that we have never read! It's nice to know that some things never change no matter where you live, I guess!

Okay. So I have to deal with this new way of sending mail. I guess it’s not so bad. As long as you don’t have some other surprises for me. I mean, next you’ll be telling me we don’t get mail delivered on Saturdays! ...Gulp! I was only kidding! Are you serious? In Australia (and again, probably in most of the world) we go an entire weekend without mail service! Now I am facing one of American’s deepest postal nightmares! This same thing has been discussed in the States in order to cut back on costs, but Americans meet the idea kicking and screaming. In actuality, not having mail delivered on Saturdays isn’t so bad! It’s a blessing in disguise, really. At least it’s one less day that you have to deal with the junk mail!

All in all, I guess it’s not so bad dealing with the different postal service, here. Not having Saturday mail isn’t as big of a deal as I thought it might be. However, the Australian Post has done a disservice to the country as my hopes for an Olympic gold medal in hurdling have been dashed without my regular and necessary sprints to the mail box to keep me in tip-top performance. 

Oh well, at least my neighbors will be shielded from the horror of me running down the street with nothing on but my bathrobe!




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