Can somebody please tell the U.S. postal authorities that we do NOT want to spend the winter scrounging around for an extra 2-cent stamp? Or, worse, smacking ourselves a little too hard on the forehead because we keep forgetting to buy those stupid 2-cent stamps and thus end up mailing our letters with two full-price stamps instead? Which is basically tipping the post office for making us miserable?
That's exactly what we'll all be doing, starting today, when the price of a first-class letter leaps from the awkward 37 cents to ta da 39 cents. Why can't the post office at least leap up to the big 4-0? Do you see phone booths where a call costs two dimes and four pennies? It's no wonder that P.O. stands for both post office and pissed off.
"I have a bunch of 33-cent stamps at home," grumbles Everett Clark, stocking up on 2-cent stamps at the main post office last week. Of course, if he was even smarter, he'd be stocking up on 6-cent stamps to use up his old 33s.
Like Everett, plenty of us - okay me, a co-worker and one reader who writes to me from Brooklyn have a drawer full of old stamps we will eventually mix 'n' match to approximate the correct postage. But the solution to the wrong-postage-on-hand problem is not a never-ending supply of penny stamps. It is a never-ending stamp, period.
The official term is "perpetual" or "forever stamp." You buy it at the going rate for a first-class letter and then you can use it for a first-class letter forever, even when the price goes up.
"Wow!" you think (if you're as conniving as me). "I'll just buy a thousand of them and use them the rest of my life!"
Go ahead and do that, just don't think you're being that conniving because it's like giving the post office a very low-interest loan.
Ruth Goldway, a member of the Postal Rate Commission, understands this. She has come out in favor of forever stamps, which have already been used in 30 other countries. The Postal Service has promised to look into the idea.
But it is us plain old citizens who should be demanding it. Imagine if there were years, even decades before we needed to buy new stamps! Or, if you were me, my co-worker or that guy from Brooklyn, imagine stamps that never grew so old as to make anyone hanging on to them look dorky!
Forever stamps may sound like a crazy idea, but that's only because, like the P.O. itself, we forget that there may be better ways of doing things. Remember: It wasn't until about 50 years after the bumper sticker that the postal authorities finally realized they could make peel-and-stick stamps.
That's why I'm putting my 2 cents in now. And throwing in a nice, yellowing 13-center while I'm at it.