20 November 2014

Snail Mail

Today I had the pleasure of making a special trip to the Post Office in order to mail off some materials in support of a recent application. Say what you want about the zombification of Kids These Days or the discomfort of reading from a backlit screen, but I do find it surprising that so many places still require physical materials mailed to them. Perhaps in the composition world this is necessary to determine whether the applicant has any realistic grasp on performer-friendly score preparation; and yet, too often this merely becomes a referendum on whether the local print shop, be it of the mom-and-pop or the faceless corporate variety, can competently execute some of their most basic services. My road to grad school was paved with the fuckups of both types of places, a small one where the PC went all 1994 on my Sibelius-generated PDFs and rendered all of the noteheads in plain text, and a big one where both the self-service machines and the one behind the counter required several takes just to print on 11x17 paper without smearing. In truth, adjudicating dozens of scores on a screen doesn't sound like something I would want to be involved in. Today, however, I mailed off a wad of CD-Rs and a DVD of the stuff I recently posted to YouTube, which is a task I thought was blissfully behind us. Should it not be?

Then there's the much-maligned Post Office itself. May the omniscient being du jour have mercy on its soul. The Post Office evidently does not believe that good things come in small packages. It believes, rather, that the degree of Postal Service bling emblazoned on the package simply must vary in direct proportion to the importance of the contents, and hence that if you were well-prepared and brazen enough to fit three discs, three transcripts, and a cover letter snugly but comfortably into a small, plain, padded manila envelope, you must thereby suffer the indignity of all but completing the transaction at the self-service machine only to be told at the end that because the appointed label size will not fit on your envelope, you must wait in line with everyone else in order to receive a prepaid, blinged-out, flat-rate envelope, return to the back of the store in order to copy the address over, then wait in line a second time to pay. I have twice in my life had such packages disappear into thin air in the custody of the Post Office, and if this reduces the chances of that, I am on board. At that point, though, we are back where we started in wondering if there isn't just a better way to go about this 95% (or is it 99%?) of the time.

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