Things that make me anxious, part 4: post.
"Are you coming to play?"
"Play? Play what?" My housemate gave me a funny look.
"Just play, you know, coming to play. Like in the 90s."
"You're so weird." I like to think this is affectionate (it isn't).
Do you remember in like 1998 when you'd knock on a door and ask Rachel's mum whether Rachel was coming to play? And sometimes Rachel was already out, and you'd have to go look for her in all your favourite places (she obviously wouldn't be in the park, where she told her mum she'd be). Do kids still do that? Probably not. They probably snapchat relentlessly until they've all found each other; only to be disappointed yet again that none of their friends are actual deers, rabbits or bits of toast.
How sad. But with smartphones, no one really knocks anymore do they? Nobody shows up unannounced. Nobody ever really surprises anyone anymore. Sure it's still nice when someone shows up with flowers, just because. But the fact that you and 42 other people already liked their instagram post about it, 2 minutes before they showed up, 20 minutes after calling you to make sure you were actually in and you actually liked flowers, KIND OF takes a bit of the fun out of it.
The only person who knocks for me is the Amazon Prime guy, and most of the time I'm not even in to make the most of it and he just leaves my parcels in the bin by the back door (my instructions say porch, but I'm not in Stepford, I'm in Sheffield and no-one under 65 has a back porch.) I like the Amazon Prime guy precisely because he is so unobtrusive. Even if I was in and I did open the door, he wouldn't ask me any intrusive questions, he certainly wouldn't ask if I was "coming to play." - that would be weird! I'd go as far as to say that he is the least evil of all the door knockers we've had so far (in a month: Amazon, Yodel, Postman, Guy who wanted to "borrow" a cigarette).
I don't understand people who like Post (mail). What is there to like? It's literally all bills. Bills that could be sent via email or text or snapchat. Why are you sending me bits of trees still? Why are you sending me bits of trees to tell me that you'll be moving numbers from my account to yours on the 31st and I needn't do anything about any of this other than recycle the bit of tree?! Just leave the tree. It's not hard. I have email. You can email me. You made me give you my email when I signed up. I'll even send you a selfie of me nodding, if you need proof that I have received my digital bit of tree. Bloody hell.
But worse than bills is NOT-BILLS. Not-bills cause me all sorts of problems. This doesn't look like a bill. Nobody told me they were sending anything. I haven't ordered anything from Etsy. Why is this happening to me? My friends aren't weird; they all have phones. No one is going through an ironic-hipster-let's all be pen pals phase (I'd have seen it in the group chat). Grandma hasn't said she's sending anything, besides it's too small to be a book. There are only two possibilities left.
Either: It has been sent to kill me.
Or: It isn't a not-bill at all, which means it is a bill and it needs paying, which means it needs opening.
So of course I had to develop a system for this. One that makes me feel like I'm Jack Bauer. And here it is:
1) Study handwriting (if applicable) for one hour. Google return address.
2) Gingerly pick up letter and hold up against the light to look for wires.
3) Take letter upstairs and throw to bottom to check for unstable explosives.
4) Go back downstairs. Stand on letter.
5) Pick up letter, this time with more confidence, move to kitchen surface.
6) Holding letter at arms length, tear a corner in the envelope
7) Hold breath, shut eyes and open letter
8) See letter is bill. Vow never to sponsor a donkey again.
So yeah, my housemate is right; I am weird.
Next year, if you want to send me a birthday card, please do so via Mike (the Amazon Prime guy) or Mike 2 (the Yodel Guy) or my smoker neighbour, who will kindly deliver the letter by hand in exchange for a cigarette.