Saturday, 18 April 2009

Postal strike

When I was a young lad I remember a postal strike. I can't remember what caused it, but I do remember that it went on for months and months and the same way that summer holidays used to last for ever, and every day was sunny. I think the leader of the postal workers was called Tom and he had a fabulous handlebar moustache. The worst thing about the strike for me was that I used to get a science partwork sent to me on a regular basis...I guess it was every fortnight, but that detail slips my mind now. And with the strike, I didn't receive it. And that was very disappointing. Once the strike was resolved, it started arriving again, and for amny years afterwards, long after the series had finished, the arrival of the post was very exciting.

In more recent times, and as my face has become a little more wrinkled and other parts of my body have begun to sag, the post has taken on a different meaning. Usually it consists of just bills or junk mail, or bits of official correspondence. And as I increased the number of propoerties I own the amount of post has become a torrent of unwanted paperwork, filled with nothing but bad news (at worst) or uninteresting information.

As a result I've become increasingly reluctant to look through it, and I guess I've developed a fairly finely tuned sense of spotting which envelopes need to be opened and the contents actioned. I guess I get it right around 85% of the time; the 15% has led me into some fairly difficult situations often only resolved by a nasty fight with a government bureaucrat or banker. On one occasion though, an envelope I wouldn't normally have touched was accidently opened to reveal a cheque for £2000.

This year, the situation had reached a critical point, with a pile of unopened post that was about five foot high. Some dating back to the last millenium. So rather shamefacedly, I've just paid someone to open every envelope and sort the contents into manageable files - each flat has a file, and within that the various suppliers and organisations associated with it. There's a pile of miscellaneous stuff that should be kept, but isn't easily categorised.

Sadly no more cheques were found, but equally Gwen (no, not Auntie Gwen) hasn't come running up with any threatening writs either. It's a great relief to have it done; the house is tidier for it and I can clear my conscience too.

But I wonder now if I'll be able to pluck up the courage to open every piece of mail that pops through the letter box, and deal with promptly as I should. Answers on a postcard please.


  1. Never open anything yourself ever again.
    You have Gwen for a reason.

  2. I do that! Not quite so big a pile, and my mum used to do our filing for us (for a fee, not just because she's nice or nosey!) and would have to open them all and file them in time for me to take everything to the accountant. Even since I've been doing the filing myself, there would still be a good pile - mostly just bank and utility statements, though there were also a fair few 'You have gone overdrawn by 5p. We are charging you £5000 for the privilege.' letters, too. Now hubby (and business partner) opens any post that I haven't opened, so it won't pile up. It's nice to be able to file without getting tons of paper cuts at least. That's about the only benefit.

  3. I'd open them carefully, with one eye closed and your fingers crossed behind your back. Which could make opening them difficult. But you have conquered your fears now, Embrace your inner postman.

  4. Golly, that was money well spent. Can you send them on to me when you've finished. And on a similar theme, do you return home and find your heart singing when you find out there are no messages on the answerphone?

  5. I get 10 - 15 pieces of mail per day (almost all business related). To prevent me from just opening the mail I would expect to want to read, I have developed a system where I open each item in the order in which it is presented to me. Thus nothing goes unopened.

    I use the same method with emails.

    About 60% of the mail I receive has no use, so I have honed my "dump the crap" skills, and can get through this task quite quickly.

  6. I did get a start when I read that Gwen had dealt with that as at this moment in time auntiegwen has a pile of mail all of her very own that badly needs dealing with.

    But I read on and found out you have a proper grown up Gwen (with a capital and everything) to do proper grown up things.

    I can relax and go back to being auntiegwen failed grown up again !

  7. I have to open EVERYTHING in case I miss that cheque for a million pounds!! Seriously, I get rid of the junk mail as soon as it arrives, having read it fleetingly to make sure it is junk! When I look after my neighbour's house and feed their cat, I usually have to empty their letter box cage of 3-months' supply of mail!!

  8. Successful businesspeople allegedly promote the 'RAFT' theory (although you may rearrange the letters). This suggests that you touch every piece of paper only once, whereupon you Refer it, Act on it, File it, or Throw it away. It's a good theory. Never managed it meself.

    Years ago, having been off sick for 3 months with a gammy leg, I returned to my office to find a pile of post 3 feet high which my Assistant (who, shall we say, 'lacked initiative') had been placing on my desk in a nice neat pile. It took me weeks to work my way through all the unpaid invoices, letters complaining about unpaid invoices etc etc.

    When I left the same organisation I had 1,000 emails in my inbox. I spent my last day trying to work through them. I got it down to 400 and then deleted the rest. Never given it a second thought. ;-)


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