In case phone, fax, e-mail, FedEx or text messages are too easy, fast and cheap for your liking, it's good to know you can still send a telegram.
Yes, you can send actually send someone a telegram, that is, a message sent via telegraph lines formerly owned by Western Union. For $18.95, you can send up to 100 words to a friend or a loved one, and it will arrive in a mere two to four business days.
And yes, you can order the telegram online. This is easily the worst business model I have heard of since Miller Clear.
iTelegram, which apparently took over Western Union's service, offers this unusual pitch: "Even in today's world of mobile phones, text-messaging and e-mail, telegrams are still the thing that gets read first. People use them for cancelling (sic) contracts, contacting government officials and VIPs, social milestones such as weddings and graduations -- or just to say 'hello' in a unique way."
By comparison, a Priority Overnight envelope from FedEx costs about the same and obviously isn't limited to 100 words. A fax costs pennies, and an e-mail or text message is just about free. But hey, they don't arrive on a "standard telegram form, office-quality sheet paper or telex roll paper that will last for decades."
Apparently, the U.S. Postal Service is also setting up a Web site where you can type a letter to someone, and they'll print it out, stuff it in envelope and mail it.
Anyway, now you know: telegrams, for some reason, still exist. Check it out for yourself at itelegram.com. STOP.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.