Be it mundane or exciting, there’s nothing like mail

#577 in a series of true experiences in real estate
February 2009, Hills Newspapers

The post office is talking about cutting mail service to 5 days a week. What a shame. I love getting mail. Even when all I find in my mailbox are ads, it’s ok. I still open my own mailbox and there’s something inside and that’s a thrill every time.

We send out a fair amount of mail. We send anniversary cards to our buyers every year and include a dollar for each year they’ve owned their house. One of our buyers was up to $16 but he sold and bought a new house so this year he’ll start at a dollar again. It’s ok, he got married to a wonderful woman so he doesn’t mind about the anniversary money.

When I was a kid the post office delivered mail twice a day. That was awhile ago. Now I think the job is so extensive that the mail carriers couldn’t possibly make it twice a day. But in England they may still make 2 deliveries. At least years ago when I was there deliveries were so quick that I was able to mail fresh clotted cream in the morning to my sister who lived quite a distance away and she received it in the afternoon in time for tea.

For all of our listings we mail out a brochure to a lot of agents. I make up a new list each time to include people who sell in the area of that listing. Sometimes, just for fun and also to give the envelope an intriguing lump, we include a little something. Once it was a length of yarn tied in a circle with a note about string games; remember those? That brochure pictured pullover knit sweaters “comfortable and easy year-round”.

A few agents brought their yarn with them when they came to our open house. They wanted to show us the string tricks they knew. Some agents we mailed to looked surprised. They hadn’t opened their mail.

I never miss opening my own mail. When I’m home I can hardly wait till it’s delivered. When I’m away during the day, the first thing I do when I get back is go through the mail. I love everything about it, too: the paper, note cards, envelopes, stationery, and the stamps. And I love going to the post office to mail a package, to buy stamps, to talk to and see the post office people in their blue outfits, especially the blue cardigan they sometimes wear. They’re skilled too, good at math.

Not long ago we mailed a carrot to a horse friend who was sick. You can mail odd-shaped things like carrots as long as they’re not too big. No box, just white paper taped around the carrot which made an interesting package, addressed in black marker pen. We mailed in Oakland, it got to Napa the following day, still crisp.

I don’t remember what the carrot postage was, probably about a dollar. Whatever it cost it was a fantastic bargain for a hand-delivered parcel. Regular business envelopes go for 42 cents now, no doubt going up, but still a deal. The larger envelopes, about 9 inches by 12, cost a dollar. When we’re mailing out 250 of them, that’s quite a lot, but how else could we accomplish the same thing for so little money?

Except for those people who don’t open their mail, something I do not understand at all, all the others have a real piece of paper with printed words and printed pictures, easily read info on our current house in their own hands. It’s actual, not virtual. The brochure can be handed on to a client or colleague. It can be referred to later. And – the most impressive part – it was hand delivered.

Email and websites and, I guess, blogs (I’m unfamiliar with blogs) all can carry the same words and pictures but they cannot include an individual gift that every piece of mail does.

Here’s a fun thing I sent in the mail to my brother for his birthday last week. I found a photo of a fortune cookie, cut it out and pasted it inside a half-folded medium-weight paper. I left a small section open on one side of the picture and stuck in fortunes I made by printing in tiny type on my computer.

The fortunes said “You will have large influence with worthy people. You have good health. You have many constant friends and one great love. Birds will sing in your garden. You will be warm and well fed. You will travel to exotic places. You will be content. You are a happy spiritual man. Riches are yours always.”

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