Observing the value of the United States Postal Service
MCKNOTES ON THE MAIL
Just so you know right from the beginning, this is not a complaint. Frankly, I think the amazing convenience of sending a letter from where I live to virtually any place in the world is simply amazing. I applaud the men and women of the postal system. I have no idea how it all works, but it has to be a fairly complex enterprise. I often hear complaints, especially when the cost of a stamp for a first class letter faces an increase. In recent years the U.S.P.S. has come up with forever stamps. This is a great deal, in my view. I can buy a roll of stamps that will last me for quite a long time, and I won’t have to run to the post office to buy one cent stamps every time a rate change makes other stamps obsolete.
I think nearly everybody likes to receive mail. Sadly, the minor joy that accompanies the arrival of a possible personal letter is sometimes sullied by bad news, a bill or an over abundance of junk mail addressed to current resident. It is true that personal letters arrive with much less frequency than they used to. With e-mail, free long distance and even video call possibility, the personal letter seems to be fading into obscurity. This is really a shame. Much of the history of our country and even the world benefitted from saved letters that imparted information about everyday life that might otherwise only appear in journals or diaries.
I certainly benefitted from mail when I was in the army. I still have hundreds of letters that were written during that period of my life that hold a wealth of information about the various activities I experienced during my tour of duty in Vietnam. I also received goody packages from my relatives and friends that provided tasty treats. The culinary fare provided for foot soldiers fell short of satisfying those of us assigned to jungle growth with no sign of convenience stores.
Military personnel still welcome packages from home with supplies that aren’t made available to them by their branch of the service with regularity. Dry socks were a welcome item during the monsoons in heavily forested areas of Vietnam. I’m sure there are items that those presently serving in the armed forces are delighted to receive from friends and family.
I guess I do have a small complaint. However, it isn’t with the service we receive from the postal system. I am disappointed when, after receiving an invitation to a wedding, I purchase a gift aimed at wishing the young couple well. Proper etiquette still requires that a thank you note be written by the recipient of the gift. There are two purposes for this acknowledgement. I like finding out that the couple has, indeed, received the gift I sent them. It could have been lost in transit, taken off the gift table by someone for whom it wasn’t intended, or thrown out with the mountain of wrapping paper left after all the gifts are opened. The other purpose is to let me know that the couple appreciates my response to their invitation. That’s just good manners.
Of course this is true for any gift that is give for a graduate, a birthday or any other celebration of life. It’s just nice to be acknowledged. It used to be that gift selection required careful thought. These days, a couple prepare for their wedding by signing up for the gifts they want and telling the guests where those gifts and their preferred list might be found. Frankly, this takes a bit of the joy out of the whole experience for me. When I lived in Hawaii, I actually got an e-mail from a couple with information about their reception. The last sentence in their informative note read, “Don’t forget the gifts.” Guess what – I decided to forget..
But I digress. This is just another way to make use of the convenience offered by the postal system. These days online shopping uses the postal system to deliver purchased goods right to the buyer’s door. That’s really a wonderful convenience, especially for people who cannot so easily go outside of their homes to do their shopping.
I could go on and on about the variety of uses the post office provides, but I’m sure you get my line of thinking. I don’t know how long we’ll have such a system in place, but I believe that when it is replaced, it will be replaced with a more expensive and less convenient option.
I’m happy to support my post office. This is one of the things our country does right. We should celebrate the efficiency with which it works.