The feeling comes when I open the mailbox and tucked amid bills and catalogues is an envelope with handwriting in the upper left hand corner and the center. What’s in the corner is most important. The return address tells me who cared enough to place a pen on paper and tell me their thoughts. I know they held the paper and envelope with their hands, flesh and blood, which is almost as precious as the thoughts the words express.
The feeling doesn’t come as often now, though I’m still mailing letters and hopefully opening my P.O. Box. Text messages rule modern communication. E-mail is considered primitive. Computers pay bills.
That’s why the mail service is in jeopardy. Business is down, costs are up. Post office closings are proposed, and while mine is not currently threatened, I fear that the circumstance is not unlike seeing a steam-powered paddleboat pass by Parkville on the Missouri River in 1906 and remembering when such boats used to be far more numerous.
I’m not just sentimental. I like the Post Office and use it frequently. For 45 cents I can send a first-class letter with more personality than a LOL electronic blink. And I use the USPS often for packages. At the service counter, the employees are friendly and helpful. The Oxford Strategic Consulting firm of England thinks so, too. On Monday the firm released an analysis of postal services in the G20, the world’s largest economies, and the United States Postal Service ranked No. 1 for efficiency, access and public trust during a three-year evaluation.
For some of you, I’ll explain it this way. The New York Giants are the Super Bowl Champions. Your local mailman or mail woman is a teammate on the top communications and parcel delivery service in the world.
Postal systems in Japan, Australia, Korea and Germany follow the U.S. in that order. Are you tired of hearing about China taking everything? Well they came in at No. 19. Our friends and neighbors working at the USPS deliver 268,894 letters per employee, according to the Oxford report. The rate in China is 8,810 letters per employee.
But I think the trust factor is huge, too.
To read more, pick up the Feb. 8 edition of The Platte County Citizen.