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The Narrative Method Online Magazine

  • Writer's pictureShari Foos (she/her)

Stamp This!

Core Concept: Wonderland. The experience of creative dreaming in the private sanctuary of your mind. You can enjoy the process as a respite or reimagine your entire life.

About a year ago I went online to buy stamps, and this is what welcomed me on the homepage:

The ad has only four elements: an American flag waving; a row of four stamps, a “Shop Now” button and one sentence of 11 words. That is the only sentence in the entire ad, and this is how the copy reads: “Please stick to one thing until you get there like it.” Either the weed at the post office is really good or the boredom is really high.

Let’s face it, the US Postal Service has never been a beacon of efficiency or for attracting non-pissed-off personnel, but this is a whole new low. I can’t help but wonder who wrote that sentence, whose job it was to proof it, who approved it to print and who checked it before publishing on their website?

In the old days, as an earnest citizen, I would have taken this to the top. But that was when you could find executives’ phone numbers and switchboards connected you directly to their office. Owners and managers alike were concerned if you were an unhappy customer. Even clerks cared. But that was long ago. And since I didn’t have access to the Postmaster General’s email, phone number or Suggestion Box, nor the time to spend writing unanswered letters, I tried to let it go. But periodically I checked back and sure enough, our flag was still there. As were the stamps, the “Shop Now” button and those same 11 words. I felt very alone. Does anybody other than me care about this?

Today I found a new version, and I wish I’d been a fly on the wall to enjoy the conversation that must have ensued. I’m just so curious why they made the choice they did to simply remove the confounding sentence rather than rewrite it or repurpose that now blank space.

From the late 1800’s to 1960, Havana cigar factories featured professional readers, auditioned and paid for by the poverty-waged workers. These readers sat on high stools and read literature aloud for the benefit of the laborers who listened as they rolled cigars.

The sad truth is that everybody has an imagination, but imaginations don’t do well when they’re bored. When you create an atmosphere of stimulation, intellectual curiosity, mutual respect, good humor and camaraderie, people enjoy working, even if they don’t love the work.

I worry about the spread of apathy. It’s not just the post office, it permeates the whole culture. As consumers, we have become so disheartened by scams and overcome with disappointment, it’s hard to know who to trust, and as a result we’ve come to expect very little. Imagine what could happen if we stopped paying attention entirely, no reading or analyzing what we’re being sold, particularly in the fine print. Who knows where it could lead? What if a Congressional candidate could win their campaign based on a fake bio, steeped with lies?

But rather than going postal I’m going inward, to Wonderland, the place of endless treasures and pictures of a better world. In my opinion, the best trips in life are free.

Dream bigger.


Shari Foos

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