Voting by mail. I’m all for it. Here’s someone who wasn’t

Miss Stanbury carried her letter all the way to the chief post-office in the city, having no faith whatever in those little subsidiary receiving houses which are established in different parts of the city. As for the iron pillar boxes which had been erected of late years for the receipt of letters, one of which — a most hateful thing to her — stood almost close to her own hall door, she had not the faintest belief that any letter put into one of them would ever reach its destination. She could not understand why people should not walk with their letters to a respectable post-office instead of chucking them into an iron stump — as she called it — out in the middle of the street with nobody to look after it.

–From He Knew He Was Right (1868-9)

Several things to say about this.

First, Miss Stanbury, age 60, and described as utterly rigid about habits and behavior, reminds me of all the New Yorkers who had the fantods when the MTA decided to replace subway tokens with metro cards. So many people feel threatened by modernization if it imposes a minimal change of behavior.

Everyone got over it. (Everyone usually does.)

Unlike Miss Stanbury, I have every faith my ballot, deposited in an iron box, will reach its destination within a day or two.

(To give you an idea of Miss Stanbury’s rigidity, when a young relative who’s come to stay with her goes up the stairs to bed for the first time, Miss Stanbury tells her, “But if you read in bed either night or morning, I’ll never forgive you.”)

Now, I must tell you that paragraph I quoted is a delicious inside joke. The man who composed it, Anthony Trollope, who managed to write forty-seven novels in his lifetime, had a day job at the British post office where he was credited with establishing those red “iron pillar boxes” throughout the country.

 

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