The drive-by postbox

I was asked the other day what makes Ashburton unique, and there was one very special feature that sprung to mind. Not the town clock, not the giant flying fox, but the drive by post box. It’s like a drive through in reverse: pull into the specially built bay, wind down your window, deposit your one card application and tax return and take off again, all in one smooth action. It’s a wonder that every town doesn’t have one.

Call me old fashioned, but I really enjoy receiving mail and sending real live letters in return. When my sister came down to visit we had a ball, choosing postcards of local attractions such as the clock tower to send back to cousins, grandparents and assorted distant relatives. (Actually, all of the postcards were of the clocktower – but none of my northern rellies need to find that out). There’s something so very satisfying about starting with a ‘Dear Mum,’ scribbling small talk about the local attractions, slapping on a stamp and slipping the finished product into such a conveniently placed roadside structure.

Ashburton is also conveniently laid out for the local posties. As a flat town with straight roads, they actually have time to smile and strike up a conversation. Unlike the Auckland variety of post dispatchers, they’re not gasping for air having just battled another 45 degree incline on the fourth volcano of their mail run. Those who require geared bikes to do their job may be somewhat glad to hear that the contents of their satchels are dwindling. NZ Post is not. Battling to keep letter numbers up, the company has been in the news recently thanks to the humble stamp, with its cover price set to rise a whopping 16% to 70c this weekend.

Apparently kiwis are not utilizing the service well enough, but Ashburton is putting in a valiant effort. Mail is used for plenty of purposes down here, including reminding patrons of their library fines. I know this for a fact, because a bill for my tardy tomes arrived in the letterbox the other day. Having been raised in the eGeneration, constantly saturated with emails, the stern warning on an official letterhead took me by surprise. Still, it’s good to see that there are still some local institutions helping to keep our national postal service alive. It also gave me an excuse to write out a cheque, slip it into an envelope and do another drive-by posting…

Originally published in The Ashburton Guardian

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