4 Lessons Learned: A Postcard United Update

A couple of months ago, I finally dove in & joined Postcard United, a young imitator of Postcrossing.  I went full-in, even chipping in as a supporter, and sending out my full initial allowance of 12 postcards at once (well, in 3 days’ time, plenty “all-at-once” for me).

I figured I would wait to check back in here until all 12 cards had landed at their new homes, but 59 days later, the card I sent to Chile is still unaccounted for, even to the point of an emailed inquiry I dashed off to the recipient going unanswered.  So, let’s begin to look at the cards I’ve received from my fellow Postcard Uniters, and some of the lessons I’ve learned.

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Mmm, I love the food card, & the islands of the Bahamas card.

Lesson One: Your name might be assigned to a person who was previously assigned to you!

My very first Postcard United card (the Bethany Beach, Delaware card) was very confusing; it had a USA ID written on it, but the message read: “thank you again for the postcard…”  I thought this person had written my card ID on a thank-you card, so that I would know it was from her, & about the card I had sent.  I went to enter it, just to make sure–nope–she had been assigned me, as well.  A person here in the U.S. (Bethesda, Maryland), leading me immediately to…

Lesson Two: You will sometimes send & receive cards to people in your own country.

In Postcrossing, this is an opt-in situation.  Postcard United is not that sophisticated–and not that large.  In fact, I got another card (the church one, from Newburyport, Maassachusetts), from a U.S. person to whom I’d sent a card in my initial PU batch.

The very attractive card from Nassau, The Bahamas, came from one of only two Postcard Uniters in that country–both of whom I sent a card in my initial batch!

Finally, in this first handful I am sharing, the tall cards at upper left & upper right of the image are both from Limbang, Sarawak, Malaysiafrom the same person! 

Lesson Three: You may be assigned the same recipient more than once!

I guess I will need to set up a Postcard United spreadsheet, so that I stay interesting!  Don’t want to send the same person the same card, saying the same thing, more than once!  I learned that this sender has a format for her messages:

“Dear ____, Greetings from Malaysia.  Good day to u.  Sending u this (card description here).  Hope u like it.  Happy Postcard Uniting.”

So, there are just the first five of 14 Postcard United incoming cards I have received so far.  Actually, that leads me to a 4th lesson!

Lesson Four: Postcard United isn’t horribly organized!

I guess all the other lessons touch on this in some way.  But why to I bring this up at this point?  I’ve “sent” 11 cards (as in Postcrossing, cards you’ve mailed only get marked as “sent” once they are received; as I mentioned, my card to Chile has apparently never landed).  Sent 11– but have received 14!  That seems to be quite the discrepancy.  I think there are just not enough members to have things too evened out; those happily clicking to send a card, to have their itch scratched, may sometimes have to send to someone not quite actually deserving of a card at that time.

I’m learning more lessons already, even without having yet dipped into a second round of clicking “Send a postcard.”  More news later!

Take a look at these stamps!  I always love Malaysian stamps, and now that I’ve seen what the Bahamas have to offer, I love them, too!

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HEY! I Dove in to Postcard United! Bahamas, Chile, Guyana, & More…

I did it!

I signed on to Postcard United!

I’ve been aware of this Postcrossing-like site for several months, but I’ve resisted up until now.  I was a little suspicious: there are a lot of misspellings on the site, and it’s less than complete, and I was unable to find much independent information about it online.  That is, until several days ago, when Melissa Rose posted Postcrossing vs Postcard United on her blog, The Anxious Canadian.  She sold me immediately, because she is using it smoothly herself, and because of her statement, “due Postcard United’s smaller user count, it is easier to receive mail from rarer countries.” Sold sold sold, sold sold! With 1 out of every 3 of my Postcrossing cards going to or coming from Russia, Germany, or the Netherlands, I’m ready for some variety!  Thank you, Melissa Rose!

I dove in.

I dove in hard: I not only signed up; I also became a supporter!  They said I could send up to 12 cards, so I decided to get to it & send all 12, a task I completed in about 3 days’ time.  Here the assigned countries are, in reverse order.  Some here I have never, ever seen in two years of Postcrossing.

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Yes, I encountered some surprises as I clicked along.  Obviously, there are not a lot of people using the service, because when I got assigned a recipient, then went through the process of reading the profile, picking a card, writing it out, etcetera–maybe puttering around the house actually getting things done in between–often times, when I clicked to get assigned my next destination, only one or two–or zero–numbers had come up in-between the one I’d previously been assigned!

Another surprise: the United States?  What?  In Postcrossing, you have to give permission.  Ah, well.  Also, I was assigned the U.S. (and another country) twice, something that does happen, but more infrequently, in Postcrossing.

Okay, the cards.  My very first assigned addressee is in Gomel, Belarus.  She likes cows, so she gets my cow card here.

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Next up: Chile!  My first card to–or from–that country.  The Cayucos beach scene goes to a 29-year-old in La Serena, Chile, who lives so near the beach that she goes about 4 times a week, after work. She loves touristy postcards, and she asks people to forgo the envelopes (“let’s not waste paper”).  And she, like me, likes having something to red when she flips over a postcard:

“Don’t know what to write? You can tell me about your day, a project you are working on, your dreams and plans, the current book you are reading or something interesting about your city or country, even a nice quote will make my day 🙂 Of course, this are just suggestions and you can write about whatever you want, but please write something on the postcard.”

My third draw brought up Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a rare but always welcome sight on that other site.  This Postcard Uniter (is that the correct way of referring to one another on this site?) has a happy-looking profile shot, and a lot to share about herself; she enjoys:

  “…listening to music, correspondence, collecting stamps and postcards, photography, creative writing, arts, cooking (the list goes on :)) I love nature and so, I love travelling, but it was the thing that I’m not able to do often. I love to learn about other culture in the world, lifestyle, food and unique traditions that colors the existence.”

I thought she would be interested & pleased to see the pair of zebras cuddling next to California’s Pacific Coast Highway.

That extreme jaguar is going not to a person, but to a country!  Georgetown, Guyana is the destination.  The nation set up a temporary Postcard United account in celebration of their Golden Jubilee–50th anniversary.  They’re hoping to get more mail between now & the end of October, and if you’d like to learn more, you can find out here.  I chose the jaguar because it’s their national animal.  I wished them a happy anniversary, and also peace & prosperity.  Not the approximate 13 lines of blahblahblah I usually fit onto a card, but it’s hard to come up with much you want to say to an entire nation (or its publicity arm).  This was very interesting; I’d say most people know exactly one thing about Guyana.

Speaking of not much to say, my next draw, sadly, was this non-uniting Uniter in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, to whom I send the sad little horse.  The entirety of her “profile” is this: “Hello! I love tourist and animal postcards!!! Postcards only please! No photos, folded greeting cards etc, ad cards etc. No religous cards! Thanks!!”

UGH.  Now, should we do her the favor of assuming the fact that she has, as I write this, been a member only 15 days, mean that she just is in the process of writing an actual profile, and she’s here for more than just the swag?  I wrote to her, in text a little larger than usual:

“Greetings from California, U.S.A.!  I’m new on Postcard United, too–a couple of weeks newer than you.  I have been on Postcrossing for a couple of years, though.  I’m not interested in collecting postcards–for me, it’s all about learning a little more about other places and people. Cheers–“

Inoffensively stated, I think.  Also, I do love getting mail.  And also, despite the fact I don’t collect postcards, I have amassed a lot that I love & plan on keeping.  But that’s not why I’ve taken to this somewhat time-consuming hobby.  Anyhow, onward… the Big Sur postcard is winding its way toward a Uniter in Schweiz, Switzerland–another rare Pokémon!  The recipient is a 43-year-old woman who enjoys photography, as well as collecting, reading, & studying books.  She says she enjoys postcards with nice views, and nice views are what Big Sur has to offer.

On to the second set of six cards, and not straying so far from Big Sur, there is the elephant seal in San Simeon.  And it goes to: Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.  WHAT, THE U.S.?!?  Over at Postcrossing, same-country sending is an opt-in thing, and I just assumed… well, I headed over to the FAQ, and found out this.  FINE, let’s not get hung up on this, there are so many cards to send & record…okay, the Marylander is a medical student, interested in postcards of strange animals, and she says she thinks of postcards “as a way to help other people relax at the end of a long work day, make a bad day better, or to be kind.”

Tiger goes to Nassau, Bahamas!  My first-ever postal contact with this country (and not my last, as you may have already noticed).  The recipient, says she is retired, married, and the parent of two young adults.  Lots of personality in her profile:

“I love to read, quilt, Travel and Paper Crafting. I AM A COLLECTOR OF COLLECTIONS. So I have cookbooks, pens , pencils, matchbooks, postcards, stamps, Gift cards, Business cards, Hotel room cards, Tea bags, Tea cups,teaspoons, plates, and aprons. I keep almost everything.”

Postcard themes she said she likes include Disney & fairytales, so I thought she’d be amused by the magical tiger.  She also writes:

“But will be happy with the postcard of you choosing.Currently there are only two of us from my country registered on this site, my niece and I. It has been fun each time I get her address. All the best and may each day bring you lots of postcards, smiles and happiness.”

Hold on, wait a minute: does that mean that the very next person I drew–yes, also in Nassau, Bahamas–is this person’s niece?  Here, minus her postcard wishes, is the entirety of her profile:

“Hello, I am looking forward to getting a lot of postcards.”

Ugh. And she’s been a member for about a year and a half.  I grabbed that California map–she did say she’d like map cards–and wrote:

“Greetings from California, U.S.A.!  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, quite close to San Jose on this map.  I have just signed up for Postcard United, and am in the midst of sending out my first batch of cards.  I have been Postcrossing for 2 years, though.  I enjoy learning about other places & people.  Cheers–“

Too subtle this time; she probably won’t get it.

It’s really a joyless thing, when people leave no profile, or an “I want this, I want that” non-profile.  I’m in this for the joy.  I love sending people things, but… nevermind, let’s continue on.

Stamp Collage with Sheep went off on its way to a 39-year-old man in Wysokie, Poland who says he likes stamps. He also describes himself as wheelchair-bound & lonely, and writes:

“I would like to know postcrossing a lot of interesting and cool people, so I do not feel that I’m lonely. Thank you for all the cards from around the world that are sent to me, I’ll be thankful for everything. I am a person, quiet, a lot of people say that quickly make contact, so if you want to know me, then you can go ahead and write it down. Remember to love people because it quickly away.”

Pretty heart-breaking stuff.

Medan, Indonesia is the destination of Stamp Collage with Ice Cream, and it goes to a stamp collector who doesn’t say too much in her profile, but she does describe her city as “A CULINARY CITY NEAR LAKE TOBA.” Well, being a food traveler, that intrigued me, and I looked it up, and Wikipedia tells me:

“Medan is inhabited by many different ethnic groups, mostly Malay, Batak, Javanese, Padang, and Chinese. Malay people are the natives of the Medan area, and have deep roots in Medan. They began ruling there during the Deli empire (Kesultanan Deli) until now. The empire has many lands and property of heritage in Medan, such as Istana Maimoon, Mesjid Raya Medan, Sultan Deli Pool and many more.  The Javanese are transmigrants. Many of them were forced to move there by the government during transmigration programs.

Because of its multiculturality, Medan has wide variety of cuisine which originated from Malay, Bataknese, Chinese, Indian, Minangkabau, Javanese, Arabs, and Western cuisines.
This city is known as culinary heaven of Indonesia which prominent for its street hawkers offering a great variety of cuisine which often serves cheap local delicacies.”

Oh, you had me at “street hawkers!”  Then I found this delicious food blog entry, 10 Reasons Why Medan is Food Heaven!  Well, until I can make it there, I’ll be looking up some of these recipes!

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It was time, then, to draw the very final recipient of my First 12, and–my home country, again.  The last card goes to Newburyport, Massachusetts, U.S.A., to a man who says he likes cards that are “WEIRD! The Weirder the better.”  Also, he likes “Risque or ‘mature’ cards – pinups,” and I think this “GIRL Crossing” card covers both bases.  I ripped it out of the Klutz Press book, “The World’s Tackiest Postcards,” (published in 1987) which I found at a library book store.

Now that I’m maxed out, I just have to wait for my cards to hit their destinations–and then see the reactions, and the cards that should be coming in my direction!  Updates to come.

A sampling of the stampling follows.  Do you have a favorite stamp from those shown below?  I like all of them, but it’s the Spoonbill I love.

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