Every now and then I have to use the postal service. It’s always an ordeal. It honestly feels like climbing inside a computer and moving bits around. It’s hot, bothersome and feels entirely unnecessary.
For one thing, I simply have no natural connection to paper. I don’t have a printer, I don’t have envelopes, I don’t even have a pen. For all of these things I have to go out, to buy, beg or borrow. Then I have to walk like 2 miles to a post office (as opposed to an Internet cafe, which I can find within a block), frequently miss opening hours, wait in line, end up spending a grand total of five rupees for a stamp. This system can’t possibly work out for anyone.
Part of the problem is generational. My generation and below almost never uses the post. I haven’t written a letter since the last century and all I get in the mail are bills and bank statements, which I don’t open. I pay the phone when they SMS me and I follow my bank account online. Everything the post could do for me I can handle more efficiently electronically.
Another problem is that the Post kinda sucks. The average Sri Lankan household spends Rs. 4 per month on postal services compared to Rs. 750 for telecom. The postal service is obviously not sustainable or valuable in its current form. I can reload my phone or use the net A) from home B) on the corner or C) within 1 mile of almost any place I might be. To use the post office I have to go to the sub post-office down the street (which is never open) or walk to the main post office which are really far.
For today’s errand I had to buy a pen and an envelope (gumless, why?) and put this invoice inside. That invoice was another thing, someone had to print it at their office and I collected it at their house. Then I go to the post office, wait, spend Rs. 5 for a stamp and then look around for some gum to seal the deal. What they have is a pen stuck in some gum, and you’re supposed to just glop it on. It drips on my feet and the floor and the table is covered in it so now my envelope is going to stick to whatever it lands on and end up in Batticaloa. Damn.
So, all in all, mailing this invoice has required the support of four people in five properties as well as two bus rides, one trishaw, and about half an hour of walking. And the post office has netted a grand total of 5 Rupees. This is obviously retarded. The next time somebody asks me for a paper invoice I’m just going to say no.
In other news, I think the Postmaster General just resigned. Perhaps he tried to mail something.