Postal workers were legislated back to work this week, prompting questions such as, “Do workers have any rights anymore?”, “Is there any power left in a union?” and “We still have a post office?”
Well, yes we do. Unfortunately, considering the state of mail these days, Canada Post has become one big spam-bot, filling our real-life mailboxes with IKEA catalogues addressed to previous tenants, “free” credit card offers and bills – usually complex and unreadable and involving cell phones.
Even the latter are losing their paper status as more and more Canadians, at least partly due to the recent lock-out, have adopted online billing. The last two weeks saw a dramatic surge in Canadians adopting online banking. For just two examples, ING reported 350,000 of its customers switching to online statements, and Shaw Communications, 70,000. Like toothpaste and tubes, this development is not going to reverse.
In short, the strike action and ensuing lock-out backfired, not because the posties were ordered back with few changes achieved, but because the whole fracas brought to the forefront of public consciousness the sad-but-true reality that Canada Post is becoming as relevant as Western Union. Can the Crown Corporation become relevant again?
Probably not. Still, there are a few things we can do to make that progressively less frequent trip to the mailbox more interesting.
Write a letter. Yes, it’s been a while. You will likely be surprised at how gratifying it is to put your thoughts in some semblance of considered order and send them to someone you care about, rather than just setting something down during a Red Bull-and-vodka jag and pressing “reply.”
Send a postcard. Next time you travel, buy a few postcards, find a nice sidewalk café or bar, order a drink and write a few notes to people back home. What might at first seem like a chore can often be a source of personal pleasure. And tactile missives – even super-short postcards – always make bigger statement.
Subscribe to a magazine. OK, it sounds archaic (and not very green, with tablets sweeping the nation). Still, there’s something palpably exciting about receiving a physical copy of the latest New Yorker or Field and Stream. Also, checking out the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue on your iPad? Not even close.
Buy something, you Socialist! Canada Post is still useful for deliveries. You might order that crocheted jock strap, anime figure, hard-disc movie or garden tool on-line (off Etsy, E-bay, Netflix, or Amazon, respectively), but it will arrive by mail – at least until Apple releases the iTransporter.
Date a postie. Postal workers need love, too. And did you see that picket line? Some of them are hot! Plus, they make a decent-enough salary (the average starting wage is $23 per hour, or $22 more than most freelance writers), even without the union’s demands being met.
In the meantime, just so that our Stamp ‘Peders don’t feel more oppressed/embarrassed, here are five institutions even more obsolete than the post office. Smile, Canada Post: Your 2009 Annual Report (the most recent one available) indicated a revenue decrease in excess of 4% from the previous year – so, you’re slipping, but you’re not a Heritage Canada project. Yet. You’re far better off than superhero movies (thanks, Green Lantern!), Playboy/Hugh Hefner, and daily newspapers. And at least you’re not…
Video stores. Say goodbye to your friendly neighbourhood video store, if you haven’t already. Netflix and other streaming-video services have taken over for not only the Blockbuster of yore but also Cool Mike’s Video Stop. On the plus side: Those behind-the-counter movie nerds will finally have a chance to finish that script they’ve been working on.
Myspace. Soon to go the way of Friendster (if it hasn’t already), Myspace was once, in fact, cool. Some trend-watchers would say it was doomed the moment Rupert Murdoch bought it, for US $580m in 2005. On the plus side: Everything Myspace did, other music-sharing and social networking sites now do better.
The space shuttle program. In a recession, it’s hard to justify dispatching people to eat paste while orbiting the earth. On the plus side: Richard Branson plans on sending rich fools on sub-orbital Virgin Galactic flights for $200,000.
Porn. While porn won’t actually be obsolete until the 22nd century (when we’re all just Futurama brains afloat in jars), paying for the stuff in 2011 is like paying for water: It can be done, but it’s sure not necessary. On the plus side: Ron Jeremy might have to get a real job.
The CBC. Not just the CBC, but network television in general is facing obsolescence in the face of competition from cable and the Internet. Dependent on government funding, though, the CBC is in a more precarious situation than most, and it probably won’t be long before a Conservative majority mortally cripples the network that brings us Little Mosque on the Prairie. On the plus side: no more Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Image courtesy of Pleuntje.