Imagine A World Without Letters

I’ve been reading about the attacks on the USPS like I’m having an out of body experience. When I retired late in October of last year I told my co-workers only this: “I hope it survives”. At the time, I imagined an Amazon logo emblazoned across the side of the trucks. I had no idea it would be more like staring down the barrel of a gun. 

The quickest way to kill the human spirit is to ask someone to do mediocre work.” -Ayn Rand

This quote came to me often over the course of the last decade. I learned this work when service was the number one goal. Yep, there was a time when how we did the job mattered far more than how ‘fast’ we did the job. The last fifteen years have been both an exercise in patience and in futility. 

The “dumbing down” of the job changed everything. When care for our customers was at the core of what we did, there was a noticeable boost in morale. As speed took over as the new measure of efficiency, morale sank. Asking us to do that “mediocre” work was a soul-killer. 

Please remember that the loudest critic right now is a man who most likely has never washed a dish or a piece of clothing. He’s never pumped his own gas or bought his own groceries, written a check to pay the power bill or had to wait in line for anything. Ever.

He doesn’t know you. He isn’t like you. He’d blow right past you on the street without so much as a nod, but he wants you to believe him when he tells you that the USPS, our last public communication, is unnecessary. He wants you to believe it is unreliable, yet it is the only means of communicating the IRS and Department of the Treasury trust.

He wants to dismantle an American institution because it seems inconvenient to his bid for re-election. This isn’t a man determined to build a better America. This is a man determined only to provide demolition to the foundation of the one we have now. 

He is not us. 

I remember delivering mail to a certain daycare/school on my route. On the nicer days the kids would line the fence and wave their arms wildly as they anticipiated a drive-by from one of the most recognizable vehicles in the country. Four and five year olds honoring an icon on the road. The enduring symbols of a free society are the things of greatness. 

I wrote a love letter when I left the post office last October. You can find it here (A Love Letter) If you have a few minutes, I’d love for you to read it and share it if you’re so inclined. 

Put your politics aside for a minute and imagine a world without a post office:

No “checks in the mail”

No postcards from vacation

No birthday cards from grandmothers

No letters home from our service members, continents away 

No rural mailboxes or red flags 

No IRS checks 

No way to pay your bills (without going online)

No prescription deliveries 

No library books. 

No stamps. 

No love letters.

There would be no letter carriers. 

I suppose I could go all “conspiracy theorist” on you, but what would be the point ? We see bailouts for industries all the time … cars, planes, hotels. To think that it would even be a consideration to let an American institution like the post office fail, is beyond any real comprehension. Beyond any rational understanding. 

I worry for the co-workers I left behind. They continue to bear the burden of the changes thrust upon the postal service. They’ll be asked, again, to do more with less. And you know what ? For you, they will try. Because that’s what they do. Because that’s who they are. 

Send a letter to your Congressman.

Then send one to your Senator. 

Ask them to save the post office.

Mr Zip or Zippy was an icon in the 1960’s

Then, for good measure, send a letter to someone you love. It’s what you can do. And I guarantee it will feel so good ♡

7 Comments on “Imagine A World Without Letters

  1. I love this post! I also love how you found a way to describe what is going on in government. I felt a similar despair when I was a meteorologist at the National Weather Service and some Senator in the late 90s proposed eliminating the NWS because we had the Weather Channel. Well, uhh, where do you think the Weather Channel gets its radar and satellite information, and for FREE? Just like you said, these people who get to make the rules have no idea what it’s like to live a regular life and be responsible for yourself and your neighbors. We were pressured to forecast out farther and farther into the future, even though everyone knows forecasts are sort of worthless beyond three days. And add marine forecasts, and snowpack forecasts, and fire weather forecasts with no additional staff. Then in the Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency people love to hate almost as much as law enforcement, that place is staffed with dedicated, selfless, hardworking folks who make hardly enough money to raise a family. Just like postal employees, they are there for the honor of it, because the low morale, degrading treatment, and pitiful paycheck are certainly not the reasons they stay. The quote from Ayn Rand is a perfect way to describe what is happening in government: a push to mediocrity, because that’s the only way to meet their criteria. They told us at VA that they knew quality of service was most important to employees and the veterans we served, but it was unquantifiable, so they were forced to evaluate us based on speed. Each veteran’s disability claim was a point, and we had to get so many points a day or we were fired. If that’s the way they run things in the USPS, my heart goes out to you and your former co-workers. Oof, you obviously touched a nerve. Bless you for sticking with it to retirement and for educating me. I will write a letter because of your reminder, too. Letters in the mail from real people are the best thing ever.

    • oh that’s weird. This is Crystal, but the comment section made me anonymous. Maybe that’s what happens when I get too passionate.

  2. Pingback: Wordy Wednesday – In Search of the Very

  3. No matter what your politics are, if and when the United States Post Office, which is descendent from the Pony Express, is euthanized, either by political venality or benign neglect, we as a free people will rue and MOURN that day.
    To quote Dylan Thomas,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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