Going postal with new technology

I’m not hostile to change, but when it comes to technology, I admit to being a slow adaptor.

A sucker who prefers CD’s over iTunes, I don’t have time, let alone an excuse to watch more TV (e.g. Netflix etc) and I still mourn the passing of my ’84 Celica and the local Blockbuster store.  I have an iPhone but couldn’t give a rat’s fat clacker what model.  I even prefer navigating by Melways rather than Google Maps, which I might add recently sent me to a Chemist Warehouse instead of a petrol station when diabolically low on fuel.

It’s probably no surprise that my boyhood ambition was no more stratospheric than becoming a postman.  Subconsciously, perhaps I was mitigating potential disappointment down the track.  Give me the boy at seven, so goes the saying, and I’ll show you the man…  At 21 I was indeed a glorified postie, working part time as a foot courier whilst completing a university degree that’s no longer relevant to my current employment.  Yep, I was a seer.  It wasn’t all bad.  Walking around Melbourne’s CBD there was many a pleasant distraction, particularly in summer.

Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for posties and by extension the whole antiquated postal system that digital communications has squashed.  Several times a year I still have cause to mail something and invariably this requires a special effort to purchase stamps.  This nostalgic exercise recently formed part of a rare junket to Norfies (Northland Shopping Centre) whereupon I entered an actual post office for the first time in a couple years.

Well, when I say entered, I spent some time in that automatic door purgatory where the back of the line has almost left the shop, and one’s awkward presence plays havoc with the sensor.

You’d suspect Australia Post’s diminishing postal returns would equate to diminishing queues but nowadays it seems the stores are full of people collecting internet booty. Whatever the case, ageing in line to merely buy two stamps wasn’t on.  Then, lo and behold, I noticed a couple self-service kiosks so I boldly left the queue hoping I’d discovered a loophole to circumvent the unique post office space-time continuum.

Despite early reservations, I’ve wholeheartedly embraced self-service checkouts. The haughty supermarket ‘are you using your own bag?’ and ‘please place the correct item in the bag’ admonishments are a small price to avoid the pained ‘how-are-you-good-thanks’ tango with the depressed check-out clerk moving slower than a South American three-toed sloth.

So, back to the innovative Australia Post self-service machines and all seemed dandy until the realisation that inserting my $1.40 resulted only in the receipt of a receipt. Having spent another few moments declining an emailed version for my meticulous financial record, I rejoined the back of the line which again had me in the automatic door no-man’s land, and even further from having those elusive stamps reside in my hot little hands.

As I waited I contemplated how it could be that the world’s great thinkers fear robots could in the near future rule the Earth, Terminator style, and conversely how long manual yet effective franking machines have existed (1884 to be exact).

Finally at the counter, the mature aged Aus Post staffer viewed my proof of purchase with amazement, as if I was the first person ever to attempt corrupting the post office space-time continuum.

‘You’d think the machine would actually dispense stamps’, I meekly proffered, also sensing something needed to be said to ease the tension.

‘Ha, it kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it!’ replied the now suddenly animated staffer.

I left the shop full of contempt for Australia Post’s failed attempt at joining the 21st Century, firing off a tweet into the ether. Another futile use of technology, but I felt 20% better and it cost me no more than 10 seconds of my life.

On reflection though I realised je suis Australia Post.  I too wish it was 1995 again, and there was a place for me and the quaint reliability of that to which I still cling.



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