19 April 2010


One of the best investments I have made since moving here was the $1.52 I spent on a "no junk mail" sticker for my mailbox. After a familiarization period (for the mailmen, I assume) it has dramatically cut the amount of junk that lands in my mailbox, including the dreaded Publisac, which is essentially a garbage bag hung weekly on your doorknob.

That leaves very little which actually makes into my mailbox. Bills, yes, some of the city's information flyers (in two languages, bien sûr), political propaganda (only in French if from the PQ) and... yes, indeed, the odd personal letter. This last case excites me by far the most.

Call me old-fashioned, but in this time of technology-driven global connectivity, where I can videochat with folks around the globe for free, and exchange emails at the speed of light, a hand-written message sent overseas is a truly touching statement. From the red and blue ribbons on the airmail envelope, to the exotic stamp (try finding Helvetia on a map!) and postmark, it all recalls a long gone era. The fact that the letter actually took time to reach its destination only adds to the sense of purpose.

Inside, a hand-written note usually carries a very deliberate message. This is not a quick click on the "reply" button in your email client, somebody has set aside time to carefully articulate and document thoughts, feelings and emotions. And just the handwriting itself can hint at the personality of its owner (in my case, you'd be excused for thinking of me as a furious psychopath, or a young schoolboy ;-).

Thus, when I was recently treated to a personal letter - even including artistic masterpieces on the envelope - in my mailbox, I read it at once and then vowed to set aside some quiet time to pen an adequate reply. Last Saturday, on a rainy night and in the company of a glass of red wine, the moment had come to take my fountain pen for a little spin. Once done, I duly sealed the brightly marked airmail envelope, ready for mailing on Monday. And this morning, I joyfully stopped by the letter box outside the subway station, and sent my air mail on its way.

Or so I thought. But in a quite literal two step thinking process, I grabbed one of the free newspapers handed out at the station, only to read its headline: Nuage volcanique coupe liens aériens avec l'Europe! Mmmh... maybe I should have sent a message in a bottle?


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