A Message arrived recently in my inbox about changes to the Canadian postal system.
It was urging me to sign a petition against the proposed elimination of door-to-door mail delivery. The plan is to move those who still get individual delivery to a “super box” – similar to mail slots in an apartment – somewhere in the “community.”
Initially I was struck by the irony of receiving this message by email. It is precisely because of the explosion of electronic communication that the postal service is looking at such drastic changes.
But scanning the beginning of the message before I junked it, I was stopped in my tracks. “Have you ever tried to push a wheelchair or a stroller through the snow?”
Well, yes. I’ve done both.
Unshovelled sidewalks. Snow banks at curbs. Black ice on roads. Bumpy ice after a thaw and refreeze. These are problems for all pedestrians. Now try pushing a wheelchair.
During the recent ice storm, when the sidewalks and roads were covered in ice as well as branches and tree limbs, the only time I took my son outside was when we evacuated our freezing house to seek warmth at my mother’s.
But it’s not just the precipitation that affects those using wheelchairs or walkers. As the Polar Vortex rolled in this month, my son’s school bus was cancelled. I could have loaded him into our freezing van and driven him to school. But it takes a while to get his wheelchair properly tethered down and Deane would be sitting there in Arctic-like temperatures. Like many disabled people, his hands and feet get very cold and, with limited movement, don’t warm up quickly. Good thing it wasn’t a doctor’s appointment or anything more crucial than a day of school when he would have been the only student.
The point of the petition is that eliminating door-to-door delivery will most adversely affect those with young children, the elderly, the disabled and their caregivers. For many, door-to-door delivery is a convenience that they will miss. For those with mobility or other health-care issues it could mean not being able to get their mail regularly.
My husband and I chose to live downtown – not because we were thinking about mail service – but because it would mean that we could go out with Deane without loading him into the car. I have never regretted that decision. Grocery stores, restaurants and the subway are only a short walk away – in the good weather.
In the winter, it becomes much more challenging. I curse the unseen neighbours who chronically leave their walks unshovelled. I have memorized where curb cuts are cleared so we can cross the street without danger to either Deane or me. Pushing a wheelchair through the snow is a hardcore workout.
All this to get to a super box. I’m not getting what’s so super about that.