Friday, October 28, 2022

The USPS Will Scan Your Mail For Free!

 Part of the joy of mail-art is not knowing what you’re going to get when you go to the mailbox. That surprise is a big motivator. Unfortunately, you’re not always surprised, not really. It’s never really random since most mail-artists send to people that already send to them. I know if I send a bunch at the start of the month, I’ll probably get responses from many of those folks around the middle of the month. This is in addition to the regular correspondents that send at will. On perfect days you get an avalanche of mail from people you’ve never corresponded with before.

Holy Cow you know it's Joey P. in your mailbox.
Any surprise is gone now courtesy of the USPS. Some months ago my wife told me about this thing through the postal service. Basically you put in some information and then every day, you get emailed images of what’s coming to your mailbox that afternoon. I immediately signed up for no particular reason. When I did this I wasn’t thinking about how it might change my response to getting mail-art.

The images are rough scans of the envelope. Packages or larger pieces don’t show up in the scans. Most of the scans are of junk mail, which I routinely use in my mail-art. I like seeing what’s coming since I normally get that email while I’m at work. Along with complaints from students, I get to check and see if I’ll have a new card from R. Canard in the mailbox. It helps me get through the day even if it dissipates some of the excitement later. 

News from Japan from Ryosuke Cohen.
Because I’m a collector, I like to make more work for myself. I keep everyone of those scans since they come as JPEG’s in a folder on my computer. I hundreds of these images, mostly of my address and the return address. If only you could see through the envelope to the “main event.” Although I’ve routinely collected these images for more than a year, I have no idea what to do with them. I know I can do something with them, just not sure what? This post, by far, is all I’ve used these images for.

I’m not sure I should have ever started doing this. I feel this way because I’m most excited about the mail that arrives that has evaded the USPS super-scanner. That one that slipped through, that one that’s a surprise is always the shining jewel in the bunch.

Do you get scans from USPS? Have these scans changed your relationship with the excitement of collecting the mail? 

Seeing the bad news immediately. The sadness of returned mail.


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