Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In This Months Business Monthly

My column this month is actually an expansion of a blog post I wrote last month about standing in the line at the Ellicott City post office. In the blog post I wrote about a casual encounter I had while waiting in line. In the column I explored the unique dynamics of public places like post offices and what they teach us about the place we live. Public places by nature are very egalitarian. There is no social or economic rank. We are all one, standing in line together.

This, I believe, is a very good thing. In public places we get exposed to the true mosaic of our community. You get to see just a wide cross section of the people who live amongst us, young and old, white collar, blue collar, native and foreign born. There aren’t many places where this kind of interaction occurs.

With the trend towards providing more public services online and the decline of snail mail there is a distinct possibility that the post office as we now know it could disappear and along with it the opportunity to experience the richness of the place we live. That would be regrettable.

You can read this month’s column here.


Bob O said...

Nice piece, pretty insightful and leaves the reader with some faith in humanity and the USPS.

I wrote an article about the DMV once while I occupied one of their uncomfortable metal chairs waiting for my number to come up on the big board. The basic thesis was that the DMV is the new Ellis Island. In the 90 minutes or so I spent there I spoke several dialects of English, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish, trying to converse with others, also waiting for their number to come up, around me. Fun stuff. (The DMV has gotten much better at moving people along, BTW IMHO.)

Yep, public spaces, the great mixing bowl of our democracy. I have to admit, last time I had to do something with the DMV I did it online in a few minutes and didn't have to bother with anyone. Food for thought.

(WARNING: If you get an iPhone or a Droid, you will quickly find out that you can use these enforced waits to update your Facebook page or blog. I'm just sayin'.....)

Anonymous said...

I guess the point of your Business Monthly article is that commercial real estate is slow. I doubt that you would have been so patient if it were preventing you from putting together a 100,000 sq ft deal. Are I reading too much into it?
I am very patient and have waited in many lines myself. I have met some nice people in them as well. I have also smelled and seen some pretty terrible sights and smells. I love democracy but let's be realistic. The DMV and Post office lines are filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. If you enjoy the experience, you should visit the Walmart in Dundalk. You will be delighted with the mixture of Americans of every economic, social, racial, religious and cultural mixture on the face of the earth.
I'm a compassionate guy who loves and wishes well for his fellow man and woman but I do love the internet to avoid lines.