This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 22, 2007 9:31 AM. The previous post in this blog was Cottage industry. The next post in this blog is Less time to kill reading Portland Monthly. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, June 22, 2007

Escargot? Non.

I find ways to annoy people without hardly trying. The other day I mentioned that I was sending letters via "snail mail," which prompted this response from a post office employee:

Thanks for the site, I enjoy reading it daily and infrequently post comments. Appreciating the time it takes to comment, I would request you not refer to mail delivery as 'snail mail'.

Okay, I work for the Postal Service. We provide the best, most efficient and cost effective service in the world. While no organization is perfect, the Postal Service allows residents, regardless of location, age, or social circumstance to mail at the same rate; handled systematically and delivered promptly.

The Postal Service does not discriminate regarding location, economics or age (let alone all those other categories of discrimination). We do deliver timely -- granted, not instantaneously -- remember how much you pay for Internet convenience... 41 cents?

The Postal Service does not charge extra for citizens of Alaska or Hawaii nor does it give a break to Wall Street analysts. Its all about the weight shape and size of the mail piece. Granted, if you mail a million catalogs, you will get a price break, like most companies, as an example.

The Postal Service provides a cost effective service -- unmatched my any other mail service in the world. Forget the idea of rain, sleet and snow... we just deliver.

Actually, I love the folks who work for the Postal Service in our neighborhood. They are great, and at the risk of jinxing it, we get fantastic service for those 41 cent stamps.

I guess from here on out, "snail mail" is a no-no. So what do we call it? "Conventional mail"?

Comments (41)

"Ground Mail" always worked for me (even though it gets flown around to get from city to city–someone somewhere told me once the reason you don't see "Air Mail" anymore is that when the prices got up to a certain level, everything was essentially air-mail).

Sure, $.41 is still a bargain for a letter. But the Postal Regulatory Commission is cramming through new rates for periodicals that will significantly benefit large publishers (like Time Warner and Hearst) at the expense of small journals of opinion.

(I realize this is orthogonal to the "snail mail" question, but it's worth mentioning in a discussion of the USPS and its rates.)

Instead of "snail mail", how about "US mail" or just "mail"?

"some old-skool skribblez".

Yeah, maybe that won't work.

We don't really need a retronym -- 'mail' or 'regular mail' should be good enough. And the snails will like it better too, no doubt. On the other hand: last year, a properly addressed and stamped envelope mailed in Naples, Florida in February didn't get delivered to me here in Portland until June.

Classic Mail?

"I find ways to annoy people without hardly trying." It's a sign of true greatness, if you ask me.

I call it real mail, hard mail or US Mail.

And the comment should be well taken, it seems to me. I think an analogue would be a tax lawyer being referred to as a loophole lawyer, or a chiropractor as a "bone cracker" in that the term contains within it a subtext of disresepect.

I agree that the USPS is a bargain (think of what you are getting, for a minute!), and I have a great deal of respect for the mail people I have been exposed to - human flaws and all.

I find ways to annoy people without hardly trying.

Then again, there are those (like your example) whose threshold is pretty darn low. With folks like that, how is one to stay sharp?

"government created tangible parcel delivery"

Back in 1995 then Postmaster General Runyon wrote a column in which he envisioned a future business person “opening his computer” which “winked and chirped” showing him “how to get his message into the postal system.” Runyon apparently didn’t understand that the computer was specifically invented to get our messages “out” of the postal system. So whether we call it snail mail or anything else, it will play a smaller and smaller role in our everyday lives. Long live email!

How about "Mail 1.0"?

"Foot mail"?

Uh...You certainly are not going to stop people from calling it snail mail.

Then, I don't pay $.41 per post I make on email, that's for sure. And, the cost of my email does not increase every six months...or whatever it is. In fact, my cost for email has gone down.

Of late, I've begun referring to the US Mail as the "recycleable paper delivery system". Most of what I get in the mail is junk mail. Oh, I get occasional bills, too, but I don't consider that a big benefit of the postal service.

I really like the delivery folks on the routes, but from everything I've heard, usually from those delivering, sorting or clerking, the USPS is the absolutely worst managed institution in the world. Evidently, being a niggling prig control freak is a requirement for management positions within the USPS.

Careful, Godfrey....someone may go postal over "niggling", mistaking it for a racist remark....and "prig" for an obscenity.

why is "snail mail" a no go just because the Post Office doesn't like it? in relative terms, US Mail does deliver at a snail-like pace. Email is just about instantaneous, as is text messaging; faxing takes under a minute to deliver; courier service can be delivered in a matter of minutes or hours; overnighting (by USPS or DHLFEDEXUPS) takes, well, overnight. whereas 41 cent mail takes 1-5 days, sometimes longer.

yes, you do yeoman's work, Mr. and Ms. Postal Delivery Worker. but the mail is still slower than alternative delivery methods and therefore the name is apt.

maybe we can ask the USPS to once again sponsor the US tour de france team in exchange for some of their performance-enhancing drugs that, in turn, can be doled out to the employees in order to increase their sorting speed and house/hour ratio. say 'good bye' to the snail mail stigma.

Postal workers are fine people, but postal mail had its day and is on its way out as a means of sending information. There are just far better ways these days, as Kramer once told Newman. The day I can receive my electricity bill in my email Inbox is the day I give up on my US mail forever.

How about Postal Mail, or just Postal for short?


PS I once worked for a computer company, where the engineers get to select code names for products in development. The first rev was code named Schizo (as in phrenic), the 2nd rev was code named Psycho (as in path). The 3rd rev (which was the most advanced version) also had a code name, but I'd rather not upset any more government workers, especially sensitive ones who object to the phrase "snail mail".

It's a sign of true greatness, if you ask me.

Nobody asked you.

The day I can receive my electricity bill in my email Inbox is the day I give up on my US mail forever

I assume you're being catty here, since most of us have utility bills "delivered" via e-mail now.

I think an analogue would be a tax lawyer being referred to as a loophole lawyer, or a chiropractor as a "bone cracker" in that the term contains within it a subtext of disresepect.

Hmmm, I dont think thats how it began. Pretty sure it originated in internet circles as referring to the speed compared to email, not the speed of the postal employees. Some people need to not be so sensitive.

Besides, you want to piss off a Postal employee, send his birthday presents via UPS. I did that once to my dad...(retired now after 36 years as a postal employee.)
He didnt like that... ;-)

I like the Postal Service. I like our carrier. He's friendly, reliable, and buys stuff at our garage sales. I like our next door neighbor, the postal employee. I like the speedy and very friendly postal employees at the Troutdale Cherry Park post office.

I also like e-mail. I like paying my bills online. I like EFT so checks don't sit in the mailbox as prey for mail thieves. I like not having to lick a bunch of stamps to pay bills.

But you can't do certified mail electronically, yet. Electronic Xmas e-cards are very tacky. And yes, some of us snail lovers still write REAL letters, using pen and paper. Who doesn't LOVE to get a real letter in the mail these days? When was the last time you got one? Admit it. It was a rush!

But I'll still call U.S. mail "snail mail". What's wrong with that? It's a catchy, snappy term of endearment.

Nobody asked you.

Now you're talkin'.

I'm a mail man, (which is not the proper term BTW, it is "letter carrier" for those wondering) and getting bent out of shape about snail mail is a bit on the odd side of things. I do, however, resent the term "Going Postal".

Until they perfect on demand movies they'll always be a place for the Post office:-)

Hard to beat their service when you can watch a movie on Monday, mail it to Netflix on Tuesday and have a new movie waiting in the mail box on Wednesday.

In PDX it should be called slug mail.

Amen on the Netflix!

omg, The. Steve. Buckstein. I think I'm gonna like so have a comment.
Seeing general approval of USPS and uniform knowledge of its existence -- concept! -- if I appropriated taxes, I would subsidize USPS a lot more. At least a couple bils-billion a year ... what would that be, about three cruise missiles? One less attack fighter or something? Did the Post Office run about 6 bills in the red last year? 1 billion? Hell, slice off a 5 bil chunk, about half the USGovt corruption theft in Katrina aid, alone, for the Post Office and retroactivate stamp prices back to two-bits. This unlevelling the playing field for bulk-mailers is a bunch o'graft crap, pinching the small circulation books and enriching the 7-figure magazine mailers. I call b.s. on D.C.

Subsidize the USPS --billions! Reduce stamp prices. Or be haters. and hated.

I wrote and snail mailed close to 200 personal letters last year, but only maybe 50 so far this year. I write friends all the time, daily if I can get to it. It's a habit. I always buy the breast cancer stamps.

Subsidize the USPS --billions! Reduce stamp prices. Or be haters. and hated.

Do as I say or you're a "hater" (which is bad, I assume), if so, skwat-man hates you.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm schizophrenic
and so am I.

The first postal service in America arose in February of 1692. The United States Postal Service was created in July 26, 1775. Since it is not a new “practice,” such as taping off ones favorite parade watching site it’s more of a “tradition.”

So, “Traditional Mail.”

Ginger, my letter carrier by the way is a hottie.

Might you please link sites about P.O. origins and history, maybe labor issues. I thought Ben Franklin 'invented' the US public institution of it, (or was that, the public library), although it was going on in Europe, for royalty and the entitled.

"The Postal Service does not discriminate regarding location, economics or age.."

Oh, really? So why do I have to go to the post office to pick up my mail, because there is no home delivery anywhere in my town?

I call that discrimination regarding location. People who send me mail pay the same 41 cents, but don't get the same delivery service.

My source was a Portland Public School teacher at Kellogg Elementary School in 1962.

She was a hottie too.

The USPS sponsoring professional cyclists (or sponsoring anyone for that matter) is a HUGE waste of money that has absolutely no return.

All the Post Offices I have been to in the past 3 years (4 different ones), only a small handful of times have I not had to wait 5-10 minutes for service.

One time my landlady lost the money order I use to pay my rent. In order to remedy the situation I had to pay money to file a missing money order report. It took them a swift 6 weeks to return the $750.

I'll never forget the time I was working for a company that needed to buy something like 10,000 stamps. I go to the PO and the *manager* who helped me didn't know how to do math. I had to walk him through the math of how much that many stamps would cost. I was really steamed leaving there knowing that at the time he made probably 3-4x as much as me in a month.

Why does every PO have about 40% more service windows then are *EVER* staffed. I.E. a PO has 9 service windows but no matter how busy it is only 4 or 5 them are staffed.

I will agree with everyone else though, no matter where I have lived my neighborhood postman is always friendly.

Why does every PO have about 40% more service windows then are *EVER* staffed. I.E. a PO has 9 service windows but no matter how busy it is only 4 or 5 them are staffed.

I dunno, the University Station PO downtown usually has all of them staffed when I go there.


The Mail, we always called it. As in, 'Did you get The Mail?,' 'The Pony Express carries The Mail,' 'The check is in The Mail.' All other missive methods took a modifier -- air mail, email, inter-office mail.

Old-time talk: At inception, the social common sense deal granted monopoly commerce on certain conditions. The only Post Office, the only railroad tracks, the only electric company, water company, sewer company, phone company, the only fire department, the only police department, etc., (in a word, 'utilities') could dictate prices -- on the condition that: they serve the public uniformly, (no favorites, no exclusions); their books were open to public oversight and their profit margin was capped, by legislation, (a monopoly is zero-risk investment, therefor near-zero return on capital, less than 3%, 'bond' quality satisfying the long-term liability nonexposure for bankers, trusts, municipalities); and, because advertising's only purpose is to influence choice, and monopoly means 'no choice,' and as ad expenses increase prices, then: No Advertising.

The phone company need not advertise -- there's nowhere else to get it. The post office need not advertise -- there's nowhere else to get it. The fire dept doesn't buy ads, the police dept doesn't pay for ads. Common sense: it only makes the service cost more (of our taxes).

Today, the military services advertise. Why? Is there a choice if you want to join the Army? Nope, only one place you can do that -- ask around, somebody can tell you where it is. Hell, today The Government advertises! What, you're going to opt for a 'competing' brand?

Next thing you know public schools are going to start advertising.

Snail mail is just fine. I think it's perfect. Mind you: I love my mail carrier. And I sing in the choir with the attendant at our local post office. But the system is not set up for customer service. That's why they are the butt of so many jokes. Cruel? Not really.

I'd love for someone to solve the mystery of why it takes forever for mail to come or go from Portland.

It can take as long as a week for mail to get from Portland to Eugene. Two weeks to get from Portland to Los Angeles.

Mail sent to Portland hits the same time warp.

But, send a letter from LA to Indianapolis--3 days. Mail sent from Indianapolis to LA--3 days.

"Snail mail" is not derogatory as to the mail carrier. It is a reference to the speed, relatively speaking, of postal mail as compared to email.

It has nothing to do with the quality of postal mail or postal mail carriers or the postal system. I understand professional pride, but by its nature, delivering a piece of paper from one side of the country to the other takes longer than an email, no matter how talented your mail carrier is. This strikes me as a really silly thing for anyone to get offended about. And it's nothing like "loophole lawyer" or anything else that implies a value judgment. It's not a value judgment; it's a simple fact arising from physics. Yeesh.

Clicky Web Analytics