At the margins.

I go to the post office nearly every day to mail a letter or package of some kind.

Sometimes it is literally just mail with a normal stamp. I could leave it in our box, but the post office is a 5 minute walk from home and I enjoy it. So I walk to the box and put it in.

But many days I mail larger envelopes that take more than a stamp. I wait in line, and then Lee rings me up. It’s almost always the same range. Lighter stuff costs $1.20 and the heavier stuff I send costs $2.20 (or thereabouts, I may be slightly off).

Sometimes I send larger boxes that I then want to pay for return shipping so clients can send them back to me. Lee has to dig through his stamps to find the right amount and then I put those stamps in the package for my clients to return the box.

This often seems to take just a little too long. The walk is valuable. Waiting in line is not.

But now the holiday rush is on. I haven’t seen fewer than 5 people in line at the post office for over a week! My ‘a little too long’ wait has turned into a wait that I turn away from. I feel that I simply don’t have time.

All along I thought there was a better solution. I had heard about Stamps.com and Ship Station where apparently I could print my labels at home. But the cost/benefit wasn’t quite right for me to look into them. I thought – eventually I must find a better solution to provide return shipping for clients – but I hadn’t taken the time to figure it out.

Now the cost/benefit is much different. Instead of waiting for one or two people in line occasionally, it’s 5-10 people in line daily.

So…I figured out how to print labels myself from home. This opens up many possibilities for me. It also feels like I now do Lee’s job. (Everyone in the neighborhood knows our friendly post office employee).

But as we enable automation for jobs, I think we only move into a better future. I can now do what he does -from home. But people will still wait in line at the post office. For others it is one wait this month, rather than my many this week. Additionally, I will not be doing it myself for long. Instead, it allows me to easily delegate mailing to staff. I’m small enough that my staff currently do not have credit cards….but they can easily logon to my mailing account!

Instead, I think this allows us to move towards better efficiency for us all. If we set it up right, we can still all have basic needs met while also living our best lives.

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