Tuesday, January 15, 2013

end of an era

For 30 years I've had a post office box. I got it when I first moved back to this area. At first my address was subject to change without much notice; then I lived for five years in an apartment with a dinky little mailbox open to the rain. So it was my principal address for a while. Later still, while living in homes with better mailboxes, I still found it useful as a place to receive magazines, which I would dump in my car to have handy for something flat and expendable to read while eating lunch out. But my magazine subscriptions diminished over the years, and of the last two survivors, one, The New Yorker, I moved the subscription to home so I wouldn't forget to bring them home because B. wanted to see them, and the other, Newsweek, which I'd originally subscribed to as a way of keeping up with the world, ceased being useful because 1) I was getting that kind of basic info from the web now, and 2) Newsweek was ceasing to provide it, filling itself up instead with inferior columnists. My subscription ran out about the time I became finally fed up with the idea that I was paying part of George Will's salary, and that they ran the infamous cover photo imagining an artificially aged Di at Will & Kate's wedding. By the time the print edition finally bit the dust last year, I was already long gone.

That left nothing useful in the box except all the concert publicity materials I get from old mailing lists, and those can be switched if I switch the address I order tickets to be sent to, and send COAs to a couple publicity outfits which have been known to send me complimentary CDs.

Also, I no longer work in the direction that the post office is in, so I don't get there very often. I'd already been thinking for over a year of closing the box (which now costs over twice as much as it did when I got it) when I remembered a couple days ago that the annual renewal notice comes in the box in early December and is due by the end of the month, and I hadn't seen it. Because, it followed, I must not have been to the box in over a month.

That's not often enough. So I went there today and closed it up. I'd remembered where I kept my extra box key, so I brought that along with the one off my chain. The clerk punched his screen for a while, scribbled on some forms, and then handed me $2 as a return deposit for the keys. I went home and filled in the online USPS COA form just in case, and it's done.

As I was standing to the side going over these forms, the next customer was another PO Box owner with a late payment (and the late fee turns out to be another $15). "I've had this box for thirty years," he said. And so had I, but not any more.

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