It’s funny how every now and again you are reminded of how something that is totally normal and taken for granted in your everyday life (and everybody else’s everyday life, for that matter) was once, long ago, brand new, and strange. Like laptops. Or cellphones. Or the internet. Or: postal codes.
I got thinking about postal codes tonight because Raymond and I were writing Christmas cards, and several of mine were to the postal code K0K 2K0, which is Madoc, Ont. – and by extension Queensborough, which is Rural Route 2 from Madoc. My very first postal code.
Here I am totally dating myself. I am so old that I can remember a time long ago when, in Canada at least, there were no postal codes. When “Katherine Sedgwick, c/o Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, RR#2 Madoc, Ont.” was all that was needed in the way of an address to get a letter or postcard to yours truly from the farthest ends of the earth. And then sometime in the early 1970s, postal codes came along, and the thing I most remember about it was how steamed – and I mean steamed – almost everybody seemed to be about them. “Why should I have to add this?” “What the deuce?” “What was wrong with the old way?”
It seems funny now. Who would think of being bothered by having to add a few letters and numbers to an address? Our American friends and neighbours had been doing it with zip codes for more than a decade before our postal codes came into effect, and they lived to tell the tale.
But it was a complication (though not very complicated) to something that had been simpler. People always resist life getting more complicated. It’s human nature. And I remember laughing at all the old farts (as I thought of them then) who were complaining about postal codes, and feeling very self-righteous as a young modern creature who understood the need for mechanization and was kind of into postal codes, proudly putting them on all my letters and cards when the oldsters were still trying not to.
Ah, simpler times. Can you imagine getting steamed about having to use postal codes? If only people then had had an inkling of all the things to come that really merited getting steamed about. Like, for instance, the ungodly and usurious roaming rates you have to pay for using your phone when you leave the country.
Oh, wait a minute: no. Let’s not even think about what it would have been like to have had to explain roaming rates – or, come to think of it, cellphones – to people who were busy being ticked about postal codes. Worlds, and technology, collide, and we just have to let people be mad about the collisions that happen in their particular era.
Tonight, though, I am a little nostalgic for the time when the highest-tech thing we had to complain about was: postal codes.