Dear Postal Service, You have served us well, but...

I had two packages I needed to mail the other day and used a post office sub-station closest to where I work. I listened as the clerk explained to the guy ahead of me that many post offices and distribution centers were closing across the country. Of course that meant that more folks were going to lose their jobs at a time when we are expecting an increase in jobs, not a loss.

The postal worker looked to be about my age and nearing retirement I guessed. I know that I can’t afford to retire and I mentioned to her that I would be alarmed if I were faced with that situation. Retirement wasn’t in her game plan either and she was trying to avoid thinking about the possibility of being cut from the work force. Her post office could barely keep up with the volume as it was and she wondered how they would manage it with fewer facilities and workers.

She and I are both grateful for our jobs and I felt her concern. At my place, we have been working harder by rushing to do more and more and we can barely keep up with the influx of smaller business. Note that I said smaller. Large orders seem to be a thing of the past and less profit made it difficult to hire on new people. We are working harder for less. We need more people to help carry the load. Our customers have an expectation that we’re hungry enough to see that everything they want will get taken care of immediately. That’s more and more difficult to do. People need jobs, so why isn’t this working out and how will cutting thousands of  jobs help the economy? It won’t. We are losing more jobs, which will snowball into even more consolidated and eliminated jobs because less money will find its way into the nation. This is not going in the right direction at all.

One could say that the post office is losing money because people are using it less often but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Certainly the gal I had talked to didn’t think so and I’ve never been in any post office that didn’t have long lines. I no longer pay my bills by mail but that doesn’t mean I don’t use the post office and anyone looking at the amount of junk mail in their mailbox would have a difficult time believing the postal service has nothing to deliver.

Although I pay my bills electronically, I opt out of the electronic versions of those bills. I like working towards sustainability but billers saved themselves a bunch of money by shifting the printing responsibility to us instead. So greener  for them (tsk tsk) but not for me. Nice try. I can’t manage the end of year stuff without a hard copy. They save paper and the post office loses revenue there too. The thing is however – the USPS ships stuff other than cards and bills. We can’t magically send things like books and shoes and goods  from stores until Star-Trek transporters are a reality. We could choose Priority Mail and other services if we want faster deliveries. The choices are there.

There are plans to cut Saturday deliveries. Who will deliver a letter- sized envelope for under fifty cents when there is no more postal service? Not all mail is delivered by e-mail. Some people still mail checks and send cards and I’m betting FEDEX and UPS would charge more than forty-four cents. It’s the prerogative of the business community to say, “We will only offer services or products that are profitable”. That’s OK, it’s what businesses do, and they hopefully make a profit, but the post office is a public entity and doesn’t operate under the same rules. Of course, I’d like to see the post office not lose money. Breaking even would be ideal as far as I’m concerned. Not everything we do should make a profit—or should it?

Postal workers need their jobs just like I do and just because they’re not in the private sector helping some corporation make gobs of money, doesn’t mean they don’t have mortgages to pay and mouths to feed. They deliver the profitable and the unprofitable door to door, no matter what. When did UPS or FEDEX ever do that?

Every citizen who has a job contributes to the whole. It doesn’t matter if the job comes from a public or private sector. Every dollar spent on groceries, movies, cars, every dollar deposited in savings accounts or donated to charities helps lifts us all by recycling some of the money to the community and economy.

My dad walked a mail route for twenty years in all kinds of nasty weather with a bag on his shoulder and given a choice, I will continue to support the postal service. I don’t think there is a clearer message than this one. What happens to any of us, affects us all even if it’s only receiving or not receiving mail on Saturday.