I had to send a letter

I had to send a letter

I don’t know how long ago it is that I sent my last letter. I just don’t do it. All of my business correspondence is sent online and I generally encourage people to write to me online too, because that’s how I can read it. Even my bills are paperless!

Great for me and great for the planet!

The postman and parcel delivery people don’t count – they bring me the things that I order online! That’s definitely something I didn’t have 20 years ago, and for me, even though I grumble about a lack of online retail accessibility at times, it’s definitely progress!

But generally things I receive in the mail, with the exception of birthday or Christmas cards, are junk mail, advertising, and stuff that finds its way straight to the recycling.

So anyway – I had to send a letter for the first time in years.

I have access to a printer now, but I went for years without even that.

We did have a couple of issues though, such as not having an envelope big enough (a quick online order fixed that) and no stamps (fortunately my supermarket does them, so I could just add it to our shopping. But this all delayed the sending off of the letter, not least because we’re still shielding and couldn’t just pop to the shops.

Eventually the letter was sent off and I started thinking about my 21st century mini problem and how things have changed.

When I was growing up, my Nan always had a cupboard full of stationery, and she always had stamps in her bag. She wouldn’t have run out of either.

As a teenager, I was the same, with English stamps, international ones, free postage labels for my international library books, and envelopes of all shapes and sizes.

I had various penfriends in Germany, which was fun, but challenging at the same time. When the handwritten notes came, I couldn’t see to read them. My Nan could, but she couldn’t speak German. So she tried to read them phonetically and I tried to figure out what the letters meant, taking down the letter myself in Braille or on my laptop so that I could reply later without having to ask for help again.

At the time it was good, because it gave me a reason to improve my German – so that I could communicate with my friends (I would type my replies and print them out). I was grateful for my patient Nan who helped me transcribe letters in a language she didn’t understand. It almost became like a game – uncover the hidden code! Those letters were never particularly long though – when I think now of some of the lengthy emails I write to my friends – transcribing the answers to those would be a lot more work!

I don’t miss getting personal letters that I can’t read myself though. I communicate with people all round the world every day, and I am so grateful for the technology that allows me to do this independently – without having to bother someone else, or have them read all of my correspondence.

Ok, my teenage letters weren’t that deep or meaningful, but it’s still like taking someone with you every time you meet up with someone for coffee, and never actually getting to chat with them on their own.

That’s before you even get to things like love letters! Who wants someone else reading those?!

I know some people are happy to receive handwritten letters in the post. They feel it’s more special and more personal.

But apart from the minor inconvenience of not having what I needed to send off this particular letter, I’m glad about how things have moved on for me, and how far technology has allowed adult Kirsty to be more independent than teenage Kirsty ever was!

As for stamps – I remember what they used to cost before and was actually quite surprised!

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Author: englishwithkirsty

I have two blogs. Unseen Beauty is my personal blog. English with Kirsty is my business blog for people who are interested in languages or learning English.

2 thoughts on “I had to send a letter”

  1. To think of the effort you, and your nan for that matter, went to in order to keep in touch with your penfriends in Germany, wow. Worth it I’m sure, but very different to emails with software to read things out and automatically translate.

    Things have definitely changed with letters. The price of stamps puts me off as it does many people. To send a couple to relatives up north it’s okay, but if I wanted to send small packages as gifts I’d save money driving the 100 miles I think.

    I find there to be something special about writing letters or receiving post, probably in part because of just how rare it is these days. I take for granted being able to read it, even if it is all junk mail these days. It’s an interesting issue because of course technology has transformed all of this in ways those with sight don’t typically consider when moaning about the price of stamps (oops!) xx

    1. Yes,it was a mammoth task in those days – maybe that’s what made me so determined to learn – the fact that I had to work harder to get the resources. I was very lucky to be given access to audio and Braille books by German libraries – English libraries don’t offer the same to blind people in Germany last time I checked. We have instant communication now and mostly I’m grateful for it, although we do have to be careful with the always-on mentality.

      I do still enjoy getting non-letter related things in the post, and if you can read the letters, I can understand why that’s fun as well.

      Have a good weekend! xx

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