Monday, January 31, 2011

Going Broke Sending the Very Best

Greetings Friends,

The Great Electronic Void (how I cheekily like to refer to the Internet) has put a lot of things on the endangered species list. I didn't realize, until yesterday, that greeting cards are one of those things. I wandered into my local Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up a few essentials, and proactively visited to greeting card aisle to grab a few for some February birthdays and Valentines Day. Now, let's be honest: how many of you actually look at the prices of greeting cards? I never have, but I always make a point of turning the card around so the price is visible to the cashier. Yesterday, I almost succumbed to fit of apoplexy when I realized, too late, that I had paid $8.99 for a relatively spartan Valentine's Day card. Since when do greeting cards cost 9 bucks? I can buy a pound of lean ground sirloin for less than that!

For over a decade now, the preferred mode of communication has been e-mail; nobody I know writes letters to anyone, and I personally have three types of instant messaging capabilities loaded into my laptop. Not to mention the 20 or so text messages I get each day. Written communication has become a quaint notion, and now that I've been rudely awakened to the price of greeting cards, I realize these are turning out to be just as quaint as letters. Hell, I just wished a Facebook friend "Happy Birthday" earlier today, but it never dawned on me that greeting cards were almost extinct. Message received; if I have to choose between a greeting card and dinner, the choice is now obvious. And before you start with all the half-price cards and dollar stores out there, I used to be a staunchly loyal Hallmark card sender. Well, read it here first: no more. That goes for all of them. It's come down to principle and my principles are screaming: no more greeting cards no matter what they cost!

There was a lot of online chatter last week about the US Postal Service's decision to shutter about 2,000 post offices to cut costs. Most of them will be in rural American "one stop light" towns where they've been in existence for well over 100 years. It's sad, because not everyone is tech savvy, nor will they endeavor to become so. What blows my mind is that the post office is losing money, despite the advent of e-commerce, Ebay, QVC and all the rest of the cyber-shopping options we're inundated with. There just aren't enough greeting cards being mailed anymore to make up for the fact that we no longer correspond via letters. I've used some of those online "greeting card" sites a few times, but I felt lazy doing so; I mean, how hard is it to go buy a birthday card? Apparently, too hard for a lot of people. 

I used to poke fun at all of these so-called "greeting card holidays" like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, National Bosses Day...and countless other extraneous days designated in honour of something that is supposed to prompt us to go out and buy greeting cards. I drew the line at Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day. And as a writer, I think the only thing worse that greeting card poetry is mass-produced hotel room art. I know there are many people making an honest living at both, but, again, this is my blog. If the chips were down and I had to take a job writing greeting cards, I would do it; chances are those writers are as endangered as the cards they write for. Sad, but true.

Valentine's Day is two weeks from today; I would start investigating alternatives to that card, box of chocolates and bouquet of roses. The card will get discarded, the chocolates will get eaten, and the flowers will die. Don't say you haven't been warned.


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