A Flight of Fancy About Stamp Cancellations

This is meant as a funny piece of fiction. I love our postal workers! The “they destroyed my stamps” thread got me imagining what the heck happens sometimes. So I present

" The Life & Times of Postal Workers "

Meet Ethel. She’s the 183 year old small town Post Mistress. Yes, Post Mistress please. Ethel didn’t become the first Post Mistress in Ruralsmalltown just to have you call her Ethel, thank you very much. Ethel mislaid her stamp today. But Ethel knows that a hand cancel is a cancel still and there’s work to be done! Not a sharpie for her though. Ethel would not treat a beautiful stamp that way! A crisp red pen mark is the way to go!

Meet Carl. He wanted to be a policeman, but life did not work out that way. Carl knows that it’s up to all of us to fight crime so he does his bit. Some postal workers will not postmark a beautiful stamp out of laziness or a mistaken desire to please the recipient. Not Carl! Carl knows that an unpostmarked stamp is a crime waiting to happen! Carl always has eye out for unpostmarked stamps and his sharpie ready!

This is Sam. Sam hates art. We don’t know what happened to Sam that hardened his heart. To him stamps are method of payment for services rendered, nothing more. Artistic stamps make Sam ANGRY! Postmarked or not, he sharpies, and sharpies and sharpies some more. A sensible stamp is rewarded with a careful postmark. A frivolous stamp is blackened into oblivion! Sam had to take a stress related personal day when he discovered the existence of a Postcrossing stamp.

Meet Mikey. Mikey is very busy. He works with Ethel in Ruralsmalltown. Ethel thinks she mislaid her stamp, but really the post office moved to an auto cancelation machine several years ago. Ethel hates technology so Mikey waits for her lunch break & then runs thousands of pieces of post through the machine. Sometimes he runs them through wrong, cancelling the front, or missing the stamp completely. He’d fix it, but can’t risk Ethel discovering the machine. It would be like Email all over again

Meet Allen. Allen is subversive. He likes to laughingly say that, although he works for the post office, he does his part not to stamp out the little guy! Allen doesn’t cancel stamps. Partly because he hopes people will reuse them, partly to distract his coworker Carl. If Carl’s busy with uncancelled stamps he’ll never clue in to the counterfeit stamp operation Allen has going on the side. Allen makes an exception for stamps of political figures. These he hand cancels carefully & precisely, right over the face.

This is Stacey. Stacey is a single mom. Sometimes Stacey’s babysitter cancels so Stacey brings her son Austin to work with her. Austin likes using the cancellation stamp. Stacey is familiar with postcrossers & she thinks they’re a kindhearted bunch. She lets Austin cancel the postcards, hoping the postcrossers forgive his rather artistic & liberal use of the stamp. “Mom I turned the queen into an astronaut!”

Finally, meet Agnes. Agnes is a rule follower, but Agnes also has a soft spot for stamp collectors. She cannot in good conscience let an uncancelled stamp pass, but she has a “naughty” trick. She uses a grease pencil that can be cleaned off by a diligent stamp collector. Only her husband knows she does this and he laughs at her tiny act of rebellion.

disclaimer All postal workers are imagined. Any similarity to any postal worker, living or dead, is purely accidental :grin::grin::grin:


:joy: Would you mind if I copy this text for any use I like? If it`s a go will you prefer I give the source? :cupid: :svalbard_and_jan_mayen:

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Honestly this is so well written! Loved the personification!

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Lovely. Well-written. Funny. Thanks for sharing.

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Glad you liked it!

Happy it made you smile. Please only share for personal use & you can credit Meghan O’Neill

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Super! :smiley:

What is a “sharpie”?

I think it’s like a “Filzstift”, but not quite sure. :smiley:

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Thank you. Because for me it sounds like a sweet word for “pencil sharpener”! :wink:

That was beautifully written and brought a smile to my face.

I’ve observed many of the above with Post Office Counter staff too.

For example there is a Post Office Mistress who is very grumpy and everytime I have asked for special/themed stamps it’s a alway a "No, we don’t have any or come back tomorrow to see the manager.
However the same lady when asked to hand-cancel stamps on letters and postcards (when asking for proof-of-postage receipt) will always cancel them beautifully in almost a philatelic way, almost like a First Day Covers.

Yet most others just crash that handstamp down anywhere or don’t check for sufficient ink.

@Robin67 @Axolotl_

Sharpie is one these


Thank you @maddymail! :smiley:

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I loved it :heart_eyes: would you mind if I translated it into Spanish so I can repost it in the Spanish community part of the forum?

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:joy::joy::joy::joy: this is so well written, congratulations!!! Postcrossing should feature it at the next blog! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:
Thanks for the good read and the laughs! :heart:


Sure @SnowsNFurter that would be neat! Would you dm me a copy of the translated text? That would be cool for me to see, even though I can’t read Spanish

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In German we’d probably say “Edding” :grin:

I suspect Sam is not going to be a fan of our latest blog post:joy:

This was so good Meghan, we loved reading it!

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This was too good to read!

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