U.S. Post Office sign encourages using ZIP codes
Fifty years ago numbers were on their way to becoming king. It had begun with th invention of Area Codes for telephone numbers. Three little numbers that indentified calling regions of the United States and soon the world that if you called outside of, there was a measured charge for "long distance". Those were the days. These days when we dial a number, most likely on our cell phones now...pardon me...smart phones, we dial ten digits without complaining...too much.
The ZIP code was introduced on July 1, 1963 to speed letters and packages along as they were sorted and processed. It seemed to work. The mail continued to get through snow, hail and dark of night. We had been using two digit numbers to identify the area of the city or town in the address. Mine was Detroit 40, MIchigan. Even though I did not live in Detroit, it was our assigned postal code. With the advent of the ZIP code, the city/state line was suffixed with a five digit number that identified the larger area with the first three numbers and the last two were those original two numbers. So Redford Township, Michigan 48240 became okay to use because the Post Office really looked at the five digit suffix and only at the city/state if there were some confusion at the point of delivery.
All this seems rather banal at this point. We take these identity numbers for granted now. And now we have even more numbers to remember or at least track somehow: Social Security, Driver's Licenses, Credit Cards, Serial Numbers for all our belongings and gadgets, License Plates, Employee ID's, Personal Idenification Numbers (PIN's) for bank accounts, debit cards, online banking, and on and on.
We are know by our numbers. Our names are just personal relics.
As the world population grew and grew and the various means and needs to communicate with each other efficiently and effectively grew, we had to give up some our our personal identity I suppose. Yet I don't fine I am bothering by this. Like all change, you tend to just get used to it. And I guess that is not a bad thing.
So don't tell me to zip it up if I ask you for your number. Obviously I am just hoping to stay in touch. And no matter how long I stand at the window and shout your name, I imagine you won't answer your phone, open your email, recieve my written correspondence unless I know your number.