Milkman vs. Mailman

with the development of science and technology, change has penetrated into every aspect of our daily life. to illustrate that, i'd like to make a comparison of these two seemingly insignificant things: milkman and mailman, whose differences indicate our changing way of living with the times.

home milk delivery has almost gone extinct in china now, also gone with it are the milkmen, who once delivered bottled fresh milk door-to-door. on the other hand, mailman's business or the courier service has thrived as online shopping gains popularity. however, in retrospect, i find something has been lost in this transition, something shakespeare called as “the milk of human kindness”。

when i was a kid, milk wasn't for sale everywhere. for the families who need it, they depended on the milkmen to take it from the local dairy farms to their houses. in our neighborhood, there was such a milkman, whose arrival was much anticipated by the children and always brought us laughter and joy. he knew the name of every kid and could easily see through our tricks. if we didn't behave, he would side with our parents and threaten to rob us of the nutritious drink. the entire neighborhood was acquainted with him; saw him as a member of the community just like the many residents or street vendors. there was a bond between all of us for it was not only the commodities that been transacted, but also a sense of caring and dependability. and that small box fixed onto our door, other than being a drop-off point for milk; it was a communication junction between the people as we took the initiative to reach out to others.

fast forward to today, milk is ubiquitous with no dedicated delivery system. but the convenience level of our live has gone up a notch. almost everything is for sale online, which spares us all the travelling and talking. with a few ready clicks, shopping is done. the rest is left for those speed delivery companies. usually it's a grumpy mailman, who reaches us through cell phone, urging everyone to pick up their parcels as soon as possible. and the minute the receipt is signed, we rush back to unpack while the courier dashes to the next destination. there is barely a conversation carried out, nor do we feel the need to talk to such a stranger, who changes from time to time frequently. it seems that people are always in a hurry now, though we have more conveniences, still we run short of time to stop and stare, to speak and share.

call me an old-timer, but i think the personal touch represented by the milkman is what has been missing in the modern society. william wordsworth once wrote that “getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” modern technology may have multiplied our possessions or gave us more conveniences, but we run the risk of reducing our values if we lay waste our power of interpersonal relationships.