Even numbers

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I’m a big fan of meeting people, making friends in distant places, and learning all about their thoughts and opinions.

When I was a wee lass of ten, my parents noticed the exorbitant amount of mail I received on a daily basis. I don’t remember how or why I started writing to my first pen pal, but after one year I was deeply enmeshed in the world of international pen palling.

Each afternoon, I’d stroll up the walk to our mailbox and retrieve a stack of envelopes… all addressed to me.

At first those envelopes consisted of letters. Then the letters included stickers (yes – I was also an avid sticker collector). And later, my pals started sending me slam books… only they weren’t called “slam books.”

These tiny books were pieces of paper stapled together with a heading on each page. The booklet would make its way cross country or sometimes around the world. Each person would include their comments before passing it on to the next person. When the book was filled, the last person was supposed to mail it back to the creator of the book.

So while I faithfully corresponded with my 40 most favorite friends, some of whom I’d met in real life, the little slam books provided the opportunity to reach out to new people and learn about what life was like in say Moss, TN or Sheridan, WY.

I kept at least two books of stamps in the slender top drawer of my desk. When I got low, I would coax one of my parents or my grandfather into driving me to the post office to purchase a book of 20 stamps with $4.00. For me, twenty cents was a small price to pay for keeping friends in California or Texas or Indiana.

I also kept an assortment of international stamps for those precious few pals from France and Italy and Sweden.

Since those glorious days of the $4 book of stamps, postage has increased to puzzling numbers. There was the 29 cent stamp (why not an even 30 cents?), the  32 – 34 cent stamps, followed by today’s 37 cent stamp and, starting on Sunday January 8th, the 39 cent stamp.

So while most of my correspondence is done via email, and I comment on blogs instead of circulating tiny poll books, I do still mail out cards on special occassions and my monthly rent check. I do still purchase books of 20 stamps.

And I wonder why the post office can’t skip over the odd 39 cent stamp and go straight to 40 cents? The penny honestly does not make that much of a difference. I prefer to dish out an even $8 for my book of 20 than the odious $7.80. Who makes up these rate increases anyway?

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