I thought the day I discovered toilet paper missing from the shelves of the grocery store, the country had reached a level of absurdity I never thought possible. But now I am learning that people are messing with the United States Postal Service and I am reaching beyond absurd to find a word that describes how I feel. I guess for me the USPS is as close to sacred as things can get in this country. When I enter the post office I feel as though I am entering a tradition that is as old as our country. In some ways it is more important than Congress because its sole purpose is to link the people — that is us. The Post Office is about serving US. A current book on the history of the post office by Devin Leonard notes: “The United States Postal Service is a wondrous American creation. Seven days a week, its army of 300,000 letter carriers delivers 513 million pieces of mail, 40 percent of the world’s volume. It is far more efficient than any other mail service–more than twice as efficient as the Japanese and easily outpacing the Germans and British. And the USPS has a storied history. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, it was the information network that bound far-flung Americans together, fostered a common culture, and helped American business to prosper.” That old adage "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." I believe it. In Glendive you see the rural mail carriers heading out on their routes, getting stuck in snow drifts and fighting through blizzards; in town there are the icy streets, the snow-covered sidewalks, the dogs, the heat of the summer sun. I mean nothing stops the U.S. mail from being delivered. Postal carriers know the people on their routes and they are often the first to notice when something is wrong. We can depend on mail service in spite of everything else that goes wrong.
The national news tonight (August 14) brought in Montana for reports from Missoula, Billings, Bozeman and Helena concerning the removal of mail boxes from various locations and this is happening throughout the country. Senator Tester spoke first and then Daines and Gianforte followed with letters to the Post Master demanding an explanation. The upshot was they stopped taking down the mail boxes and said they would reconsider this after the election. Because of the news reporters in Montana, the USPS stopped this nation wide. No one knew why they were being taken out. They were just gone making mailing more difficult.
The slowing down and back log of mail we are hearing about is holding up prescriptions, pension checks and social security checks, all of which are life blood to many people. There is a new postmaster general who appeared out of the grab bag of multi-billionaires who seem to have more influence in this country than ever before. He has no experience and he immediately started to make changes of some magnitude which will slow down the delivery of packages and mail. The Postal Union is bringing all of this to our attention.
I have heard some folks say that with the Internet so important these days we don’t need the post office as much. Certainly the big semis with USPS I see on the highways tell me mail is still important. I find I use it more than ever and if I order something from the internet I need the post office to deliver it to me.
Hand writing letters and sending cards to people are very important in this time of pandemic. It shows you care when you take the time to write, address and stamp an envelope. Many people still pay their bills by mail and this year more than any other time we will vote by mail. The USPS is one of those things in our lives to which we pay no attention, just assuming it will always be there and always operate as it has for over 200 years. I believe in our Postal Service and I think most Americans agree. Leave it alone.