Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bye, Bye Round Stamps: An elegy

Round stamps—the time-honored Post Office “seal of performance”—are gone. Kaput. Defunct. History.

Date   StampUntil recently, a postal clerk solemnly stamped the postal paperwork mailers presented to him when a mailing had successfully weathered the mail acceptance process. Then he handed the USPS drop slip with the official seal of approval to the driver.

Without the round stamp, the driver knew he had better not come back to the shop. You see, the red round stamp confirmed the job count was right, the postage was right, and the authority over that mailing had passed from the mailer to the USPS.

The red round stamp was a mailer’s proof of delivery. Proof of accuracy. Proof of performance. It was everything.

And now the ceremonial stamping is gone. The “amen” is missing at the end of the postal psalm. The punctuation mark at the end of the sentence has gone AWOL. The postal clerk is like a Samurai stripped of his sword. Something important is missing.

Its absence leaves old timers like me feeling a little melancholy.

It will take a bit of getting used to, but a computer-generated form has replaced the red round stamp ceremony. Unlike the round stamp, this form is soulless.

I suppose the USPS will save thousands of man hours each year by eliminating that final flourish. I’m sure the USPS will save thousands of dollars in replacement rubber stamps and ink. But without that red round stamp, it just doesn’t feel complete. It lacks authority. It feels clout-less.

Ah well. Time marches on. Another time-honored ceremony is consigned to the dustbin of history.

Progress is in the eye of the beholder.

1 comment:

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

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