29 cents for a postage stamp is not just goofy, it's downright dangerous

Kevin Cowherd

February 13, 1991|By Kevin Cowherd

PEOPLE DON'T write letters to each other the way they used to, and at 29 cents a stamp, I can see why.

There are very few people worth 29 cents of your hard-earned money on a consistent basis. Your mother, maybe. And anyone who owes you money or has ties to the law enforcement or judicial branches of local government, and can therefore help fix a speeding ticket.

But after that, the list thins considerably. Instead of writing, you would probably be better off ignoring the rest of your deadbeat family members and friends until such time as they assume you are deceased and mercifully take you off their Christmas card list.

The enduring mystery, of course, is why the price of a stamp was raised from a quarter to 29 cents (as opposed to an even 30 cents), thereby guaranteeing a flood of pennies on the market.

This thing with the pennies is bad business. People do not like pennies. There are too many pennies circulating throughout the DTC economy as it is, contributing to a surliness and sense of despair among the general population.

Pretty soon, with this postal rate hike, you'll see people leaping from the roofs of apartment buildings and throwing themselves in front of city buses, just to get away from all the pennies.

Pennies will do that to you, drive you absolutely insane if you let them.

Not long ago, I saw a woman on a supermarket checkout line clawing and scratching through a mound of pennies at the bottom of her pocketbook, apparently trying to find a quarter to give the cashier.

Soon the line at the register stretched out into the parking and people were grumbling loudly, which was making her even more panicky.

"THESE STUPID PENNIES!" she screamed while the rest of us averted our eyes, the way you would if passing a disturbed person on the sidewalk. "STUPID FREAKING PENNIES."

Finally, in a fit of desperation, she dumped the contents of her pocketbook on the counter. Then she rooted around frantically for several seconds before fishing out a quarter and triumphantly handing it to the cashier.

My God. And this was BEFORE the 29-cent stamp went into effect. Can you imagine this woman's state of mind now? I'll bet she foams at the mouth and rotates her head 360 degrees if she gets within a block of a post office.

Three months from now, she'll be stopping traffic at downtown intersections, running up to cars and shrieking obscenities about the U.S. Postal Service while frightened motorists quickly roll up their windows.

Mark my words. It's craziness, all these pennies on the open market.

There is another disturbing aspect to the new 29-cent stamp, which I hesitate to mention for fear of alienating a certain segment of the readership.

But here goes. The new stamp has some sort of flower pictured on it. It looks like a rose to me, although some of my colleagues say it's a tulip. One obviously senile fellow (who, frighteningly enough, is still issued a press pass) swore it was a red onion bulb.

(In the old days of journalism, you were encouraged to smack someone like this upside the head; sadly this is no longer the case, due to increasingly strict felony assault statutes and the general lack of humor in the workplace.)

Whatever kind of flower is on this stamp, the point is, it's still a flower. And flowers, it says here, do not belong on postage stamps.

War heros belong on postage stamps. Great scientists, noted authors, distinguished sports figures belong on stamps. Noble animals, such as the eagle or grizzly, belong on stamps. Historic scenes of national importance, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the opening of the first automatic teller bank machine belong on stamps.

(Elvis belongs on a stamp. What the hell. The King is routinely spotted in every convenience store, Winn Dixie and roller skating rink in the country. Might as well stick him on a stamp, too.)

But I draw the line at flowers. Flowers belong on boxes of bathroom tissue and certain living room sofas owned by uptight yuppies, who will then cover them in protective plastic. But flowers are hardly the stirring symbols that belong on the postage stamps of a great nation.

If you disagree with me on this issue, well, that is certainly your privilege.

Although you'd be at direct odds with Elvis.

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