Thursday, February 07, 2013

Saturday Mail

Well, the big news yesterday (aside from the fact that Congress still has its head up it's doopa) was that the US Postal Service wants to save billions of dollars a year by eliminating Saturday first-class mail deliveries, starting in August.

This is sad.

At one time, the Post Office was one of the crown jewels of our government, delivering fast and reliable service for a nominal fee. Its history goes back to the year 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General, and it is one of the few federal agencies specifically authorized by The Constitution*. I remember when I was in college and - for the princely sum of six cents (eight by the time I graduated) - I could get a representative of a trusted and respected federal government agency** to come to my house, pick up a letter, and deliver it in a matter of days to someone on the other side of the country. As the old saying proudly reminded us,

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.***

Nowadays, a representative of a quasi-independent-sort-of-but-not-quite government agency will charge me 46 cents pick up that same letter, one less day per week. Still a bargain, when you think about it, but quite a bit more than the eight cents I paid in 1973.

The Post Office didn't have to end up in this ignominious state, but a lot of factors helped to turn it into a money-hemorrhaging butt of late-night TV jokes, including ...

- Congressional meddling and micromanagement;

- The rise of the Internet and fast, "free" communication;

- The general decline and devaluation of writing skills among Americans; and,

- A faster pace of life that values speed of communication over thoughtfulness and elegance of expression.

There have been some ideas for helping the Postal Service get back on its feet, including ...

and ...

And it isn't just people who regret the decline of the Post Office ...

As many of you know, I love writing letters****. I'm not quite as prolific as I used to be, but I still enjoy sitting down and crafting a long, chatty, and (hopefully) interesting and entertaining letter. Everyone enjoys getting personal letters, but nobody wants to actually write them any more ... and that's one of the big reasons the Postal Service is going belly up.

So, what are the other things that happen if the Postal Service eventually hangs up its mail bag?

Young boys and girls won't be able to sneak kisses by "playing post office." Playing "e-mail server" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Many old songs won't have the same impact, and new ones won't have the same effect. For example, consider the 1967 hit song by The Box Tops called "The Letter" ...

"Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain't got time to take a fast train - 
Lonely days are gone
I'm a-goin' home:
My baby wrote me a letter"

It just doesn't sound the same if it goes ...

"Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain't got time to take a fast train - 
Lonely days are gone
I'm a-goin' home:
My baby sent me a tweet"

And would Pat Boone's classic song "Love Letters in the Sand" have the same impact as "Sending E-Mails from the Beach?"

Why not take a minor vow today to write even just one letter a month?+  You'll give someone the thrill of receiving a real, ink-on-paper letter, exercise your dormant writing skills, and do your part to help rescue the good old US Mail US Post Office US Postal Service.

Do it now!

Have a good day. Write someone a letter. And then come back for Cartoon Saturday.


* Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7. You probably never noticed it because you were obsessing about the Second Amendment.

** You didn't know that we used to have those, did you?

*** Contrary to popular belief, this is not the official motto of the Postal Service, but an inscription found on the General Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street in New York City. It's a translation from the works of Herodotus that describes the faithful service of mounted couriers used by the Persian empire ... you know, the place where Iran is now.

**** I'll write one to you, too ... just send your snail-mail address to der_blogmeister(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll send you your own, personal, handwritten letter, which may well be the only one you get this year. The only catch is that you have to promise to write back.

+ Mike, no fair subcontracting it to Claudia!


eViL pOp TaRt said...

It's true: Nobody takes the time any more. Even with e-mail. I get curt, misspelled, unpunctuated notes for the most part.

Amanda said...

This is off on a tangent a little but I wonder if people who are into vintage clothing and furniture also have an interest in some of the aspects of life in the writing letters.

Duckbutt said...

I'll miss Saturday mail.

An additional problem of the Post Office is the dramatic increase in volume of catalogs and mass mailings. And these are subsidized through more favorable rates.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I'm so old Bill I write hand written thank you cards for all gifts and kind gestures. I sent invitations via mail and everyone asked why i didn't do e-vites.
So I am trying to do my part to keep the USPS running.

And from a business stand point working with them has been the best over Fed Ex or UPS. Rates, service and people who are in America and understand my questions when there are issues. I love working with them.

For me personally losing Saturday isn't a big deal but the overall reasons and affects this implies really bothers me. (1 less day of bills arriving is okay)

And those songs - that was a hoot and clever Mr. Bilbo.

Mike said...

I tried to get Claudia to write one for me and she wouldn't do it.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I know of a revenue-generating means for the USPS: encourage Junior Leaguers and other Ladies' Clubs to take up group sex.

Think of all those "Thank You" notes........

The Mistress of the Dark said...

If it weren't for the way the USPS has to pay into their pension plans this would not be happening. My sister, who is a rural carrier, however is over the moon about this.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Heidi might have an idea there.

Thank you notes should always be hand-written, not e-mailed. And so should "Dear John" letters.

allenwoodhaven said...

Excellent post! I think they should just serve first class on Saturdays. Let the others wait their turn...