Snowiks opened his e-mail with the daily sense of defeat. He didn’t know why he still checked it, really. It was considered antiquated. (People these days were using voice-snaps, which Snowiks refused to send simply because the name sounded stupid.) This time, though, his routine wasn’t for the sake of warming up the keyboard – he had a message.
And what’s more: the message was from the post office. Paper mail hadn’t been delivered for the past decade, but the establishment still existed. The e-mail concisely informed him that he had something waiting for him and could he please pick it up before next Thursday?
No need to wait that long. After his shift ended, he didn’t even swing by his home before heading towards the local post branch. (‘Local’ takes on the meaning of ‘a two hour drive’ when one lives in a town as small as Chagrin Heights.)
Snowiks didn’t resent the drive, though. He welcomed any chance to visit the post office. It had capitalized on the fact that the majority of its patronage were driven to it by nostalgia, so while the rest of the world updated, the post office had turned back the clock. It boasted a ‘genuine 1940’s atmosphere’ on the online reviews.
Snowiks didn’t know if someone from the 1940’s would agree with the assessment (there were still enough electronics and advertising to set off someone’s epilepsy) but the place did have more wood than plastic, employees dressed in period uniforms, and a balance with little weights for weighing one’s letters (very popular with the children.)
When he entered the building, he was initially startled by a sharp, repetitive chck-chck sound, which his mind automatically assigned to bullets being locked into a gun. Luckily, before he could make a spectacle of himself, the sound was joined by laughter and revealed itself to be a family crowded around an antique typewriter.
The father punched a few more keys, causing a round of good-natured scoffing from his teenage daughters.
“What? It’s hard!” he defended himself. “I’d like to see you try it.”
One of the girls accepted the challenge and lightly poked one of the keys, frowning when it didn’t move.
“Yeah, see? You have to really slam into it, like you’re punching it or something.”
Leaning her whole body weight into the finger, the girl successfully printed a single letter on the page. She tried another, but had less success judging by her sister’s teasing.
Snowiks smiled and wandered around the other artifacts (most of them recreations, but a few were under glass because they were authentic.) He weighed a few sample letters on the Arnold Precision Scales, enjoying the feel of the coin-shaped counter weights in his palm. He read the historical placards, quietly grateful that they weren’t on an electronic slideshow. He spun the dial on a rotary telephone, tapped the Morse code transmitter, and stamped a hand-cancelled symbol with an actual ink pad.
It should be against the rules of the universe to feel this much nostalgia for a time period you never actually lived in.
Once he had read everything twice, and practiced with the typewriter until he set a new high-score for fastest words per minute, Snowiks reluctantly admitted to himself that he should probably get on with why he was here in the first place. He walked up to the counter and showed the lady the notification on his phone’s screen. He quietly wished that he had printed it out at the office – it felt like a betrayal to have his cell out in this place.
She disappeared for a moment and returned with a small, square envelope. He thanked her and sat on the wooden bench to open it. Inside was a card with imagery of a snowy pine tree on the glossy cover. On the inside was a handwritten note:
I know you’re a big softy about that old post office, and you’re too stubborn to go there without a real reason. Have fun being old (just kidding!) I hope you have a great holiday (not kidding at all!)
Thanks for reading! Just for the record – I would personally LOVE to visit this Post Office, and I really wish it existed. I’m a huge fan of snail mail. (Which reminds me – I need to send my own Christmas Cards! Jasper is waaay more organized than I’ll ever be.)
If you’re curious about
Snowiks and Jasper’s
book, check it out here.