Snail Mail…Literally!

February 7, 2019 · Print This Article

This hugely hyperbolic postal metaphor has served as a humorous description of the pace of mail through the ordinary postal system, compared to email. But in one recent example, it has been true to life. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying!

A postcard has travelled slower than a snail! Posted from the Galapagos Islands, it took 30 years to reach its intended destination, in England. Peter and Varna Chadwick, who were on holiday 30 years ago, had posted it to themselves, but never got it until the owner of their old home tracked them down after it was posted through the letter box of the house 30 years later.

But I hear you say, ‘surely, it couldn’t have been slower than a snail!’ Shockingly, it was! I did the geeky thing of Googling the speed at which a snail travels and found our garden friend moves at a whopping 0.047 kilometres per hour…not really going to get you a speeding ticket. So, knowing its speed, you can do a little maths and calculate if Simon the snail set off from the Galapagos Islands at that blistering pace, he would reach London in…(drum roll…) 24.6 years! This almost had me in stitches. However…

Have you ever been slow to deliver a message? Ok, so I have a confession to make. Right now, I just want to curl up in my snail shell and hide away. As I write to you, on my desk, in my document holder, I have…yes, you guessed it…a postcard for someone I was meant to give it to. And the bad bit…I have had it for over a year! (I knew humans shared a gene with snails, but I think I have taken it too far!)

I only see this person once a year. When I was given the postcard, I simply forgot to pass it on. Then, I failed to take it the next year. It resides on my desk as constant reminder of my incompetence.

But maybe for us all, it is easy to forget to pass on a message, or to leave speaking to a person we know we should, for another day.

Maybe you have heard that someone is sick or at a low point in their life; you’ve thought of them and wanted to reach out. And then comes a new day, work piles up, the person becomes a mental blur, and then too much time has passed so that reaching out would seem a bit socially awkward. So you don’t.

You know, I once read some wisdom that said, Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.[1] It is a principle that speaks of paying attention to the small details in life, because you will then do better when the big things come. It’s helpful. It’s noble. And it’s worth remembering and using!

So, next time you need to pass on a message or have a thought about reaching out to someone, let’s not be like the snail. Let’s be a bit faster.

I know what I’m going to do now…

…right, where’s that postcard!


[1] The Bible, Luke 16:10 (NIV)

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