This column – originally published in the Kings County Record on February 23rd, 1999 – seems appropriate given the long, cold, wet winter that we have been experiencing. As always, please enjoy!
The upheavals in the postal system that had people practically in tears in Sussex a while back have not yet penetrated to these distant outposts of civilization. But we are already seeing signs and portents, and must assume that what the prophets of the Old Testament were fond of calling "the Last Days" are soon to appear over the horizon.
We have had our emergency services numbers for quite a while now and are pleased to think that, if need be, the emergency services can find us. In fact, they have already found us. One of NB Tel's service men had come out here to explore an odd glitch in the line and the next thing either of us knew, first one, then two, police cars steamed up the driveway and wanted to know why we had called 911. It was gratifying to know that the response was so prompt, only neither the telephone repairman nor I had felt the need of reinforcements at that particular moment. And when I called 911 back as requested, it turned out that our street number on record with 911 was different from the street number we had been given as our very own, and no-one else's. That raised the question as to how the two police cars had found us so quickly, but it didn’t seem that just then was a good time to explore the matter.
Residing on a rural route known only by the name of the Post Office located some ten kilometres away – as the crow flies – gives one a pleasant feeling of remoteness, especially when people from what they like to think of as the "real world" (e.g., Toronto) are unable to locate us using their expensive gadgets which, thanks to billions of dollars of satellites hanging motionless over our heads, tell them where they are to within 20 metres of where they really are.
As I say, the street numbers are rather handy for some things, like telling the tradesman you actually want to see, how to find you. Of course, nothing in this world that is useful is introduced without some other thing being introduced which negates the usefulness of the aforesaid. In the case of the street numbers, the countering invention seems to be a vastly improved snow plow design.
No longer is it necessary for the driver of a plow to actually hit your mailbox in order to retire it from service. The new plows enable snow to be gathered up at far higher speeds and then curled around itself and spat out in a stream with such force that it could replace sandblasting as a way of cleaning metal if the object to be sandblasted could somehow be driven along in time with the plow. Standing objects, like mailboxes, I find, prefer simply to collapse inwards and to lean alarmingly while name and street number disappear under a layer of slush only a jackhammer could remove. It has been our good fortune so far this winter that hardly any snow has fallen, otherwise our mailbox, which was not of the highest quality to begin with, would have looked like a sardine tin at the end of a rather wild party.
As it is, it lists to starboard like a cattle carrier with a stoved hull, and the flap which is supposed to ensure the safety of our precious daily collection of junk mail and flyers, interspersed with bills, has given up any pretense of closing.
Among the detritus the other day was a nice "Delivery Notice" from our "Post Office," telling us that we had something to look forward to. These notices are nothing special really – they've come along at odd intervals for as long as I can remember.
This notice was rather spiffed up, though. It told us that we could pick up our mail "after 13:00 the next business day" but only if we brought "this card and two pieces of personal identification." Further down, in large, friendly letters, we learned that "Priority Courier items are available today from 17:00 hours." At the bottom we noted that our Post Office still closes at 15:00 hours, Monday through Friday, and at noon on Saturday.
I asked how I could get a notice that something was in if I couldn’t pick it up until after one p.m. the next day, and how I could pick up Priority Post after five p.m. today if the Post Office closed at three. Our long-suffering Post-Mistress told me that the cards were printed in Ottawa.
I'd say that figures.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.