Going Postal: The Problem with Handwriting is…

The third edition of my Going Postal: A Column About Postcards column.


The mail usually arrives at my house between 10am and noon.  If I’m home, like I was today, I hear the familiar metal banging and creaking of my mailbox’s black lid as the mail is placed…delicately…into the box located next to my front door.  Today I did not run to the door to quickly (yet inconspicuously) rifle through the mail, rejecting the bills for my mother, to see if there was any postcards for me.  Recently I haven’t received too many, so I didn’t think twice about leaving the collection for later.

When my mom came home, just minutes after the mail was delivered, she handed me a postcard!  The problem was…I didn’t know who sent it to me!!!

On the front was a picture of Changdeokgung Huijeongdang house, a side room of the Korean Royal Palace.  It is a World Heritage Site, yet this building was only installed in 1920 after a devastating fire destroyed the original in 1917.

With 350 Won of postage (someone please correct me if this is not the correct title for Korean postage/currency), both demonstrating beautiful flowers, and the cancellation stamp from Seoul (Nov. 2, 2010) to go on, I attempted to decipher who the mystery writer was.  In the written section, the writer said this was my postcard “as promised” from Korea.  There to visit universities, it was apparently the first time in many trips to have a day off to do touristy things (and he/she was going to the DMZ…).

The writing style (and grammatical correctness), and the reference to the Canadian Embassy made me think this was from a Canadian, not one of the many international students I have met from Korea.  But who could it be?  Who did I ask to send me a postcard, say, 3 or 4 weeks ago?  What was the name written on the bottom…?

Signed with what appeared to be a quick and routine scrawl, like from somebody used to signing their name in a hurry, the final word was unreadable to me.  It looked like it could have been T R O I E.  I frantically searched through 999 Facebook friends, as most of my international postcards come from online friends, but there was no one with that name.  Could it have started with an S?

Change of tactics.  Who do I know currently in Korea?  That narrowed it down some.  Who would be visiting universities overseas?  Someone interested in applying, or someone there for work?  Suddenly it hit me!  This postcard was sent to me by a lady in my church (Avril, not Troie) who travels frequently to Asia with her job.  She had promised me a postcard while because it was easier than bringing back food or candy like for the younger children.  Suddenly the postcard made sense; why I wouldn’t have been expecting it (not seeing instant updates on Facebook) and why I couldn’t read the writing (she has a much more refined and proper script than most of my lazy friends use in their postcards).

Thanks very much to Avril, the postcard is beautiful and arrived in perfect condition (quite a surprise actually.  The only damage was two minute imprints made by the cancellation stamp, about the size of a Loonie, that is only visible with the right reflection of light).

Interesting facts about Korean post: Literature for the blind, up to 7kg, is shipped FREE by surface mail.  Also, according to a recent Korea Post press release, Korean postal service workers are now wearing uniforms made of recycled PET plastic bottles.  It takes approximately 11 bottles to make one uniform (or about 389,000 for the extra 35,000 uniforms needed) and it saves 22,000kg of CO2 emissions.  22,000kg of CO2 emissions are equal to driving a car 100,000km and would need 1,300 50 year old trees per year to neutralize it.  Korea Post has plans to provide more clothes and ‘green’ materials in the future.  Source: Korea Post Press.


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