Yesterday, I made a trip to my local post office — my first to-be-mailed wedding invitation in hand.
The friendly lady at the counter asked how she could help.
“I wanted to ask you a few questions about getting invitations hand canceled,” I said, realizing as I spoke that I didn’t actually have any questions in mind. I just knew I’d been told: do it!
Plopping my invitation onto a board crisscrossed with lines and measurements, the lady smiled.
“You’re safe for the forty-four cent stamps,” she told me. “How many invitations do you have?”
“Oh.” I paused, mentally counting. “There are between ninety and a hundred.”
The lady’s smile wobbled, just for a moment. “Well . . . it would be great if you could bring them in during the morning. That way we can just hand cancel them throughout the day when we aren’t busy.”
Relief! She wasn’t refusing me! ( Sylvia, my wonderful stationer at Paper Dance, had warned me that only two local post offices will actually hand cancel parcels. “They’re the nice ones,” she’d said.)
Post office lady must have read my thoughts. “Most of the post offices around here won’t do hand canceling,” she said, echoing Sylvia. She smiled wryly. “We’re nice.”
Yes, nice indeed!
Be aware: hand canceling isn’t a dead art. It’s alive and well at the beach side post office in Ormond Beach, Florida. (So if you get any attitude from the people at your P.O. in Altoona or Phoenix, you could always hop a plane down here.)
But, another question to ask: just because an envelope’s hand canceled, will it still get shoved through a machine? After all, that’s the whole reason for hand canceling in the first place, to avoid the rough handling and squiggly black smudge that come with mail sorting machines. Make sure you get a promise that your beautiful (read “expensive!”) invitations won’t still end up manhandled!
And then, sit back, try to relax, and let the RSVPs start rolling in. . . .