I don’t know about you, but of the thousands of letters and packages I have mailed out and received over the years, I can count on one hand the number that were lost, misplaced or never delivered.
Sometimes I get a letter a day or two later than I would like, but just as often, I get them as soon or faster than I could expect. It is easy, though, to say the check or the birthday card I forgot about was lost in the mail.
I’ve met a couple of grumpy postal carriers over the years, but most are chipper and happy, even if they are delivering through rain, sleet or snow.
All of this comes to mind with the current upheaval the post office is going through now.
The post office and its workers are getting a bum rap these days.
When management merges mail processing centers, it is attacked.
When they announce they are discontinuing Saturday service, people get upset.
When rates go up, the public is enraged.
When post offices that are the center of community life in rural towns such as Hingham are slated for closure, people feel like a vital part of their community life has been brought to a halt.
And the people who sell us the stamps, handle our packages and deliver our mail are caught in the middle.
They hear the complaints from the public, but it is their future that is up in the air.
Consider the people staffing the counter at the Havre Post Office. There are fewer there than there used to be. They tell us that the number of users is down these days, but you couldn’t prove it by the number of people in line every time I stop at the post office.
The employees may be classified in the massive category of uncaring government bureaucrats, but I’ve always found them to be helpful and cheery, far more cheery than I would be if I looked up to see the long line of customers in front of me.
The post office Ben Franklin created has changed a lot over the centuries and is likely to change a lot in the near future regardless of this round of cuts.
That was brought to my attention when I was greeted by stone silence when I asked a postal official recently if she could email me a press release. She sent it to me the old-fashioned way.
But I hope the post office will always be the unifying force for Americans that it has been for centuries. I hope it will always involve neighbors bringing you your mail and delivering your envelopes too any part of our massive country for a minimal amount. Private enterprise can do a lot, but it can’t deliver a letter for 45 cents, whether you send it to Chinook or to Key West, Fla., or Nome, Alaska.
The post office connects us to the rest of the country. Maybe, as Sen. Jon Tester said last week, that means more to those of us out in the sticks. The post office connects us to the rest of the nation way more than any private delivery service can.
Besides, we know that if they try to cut back on the post office, we can raise Cain and at least somebody will listen to us.
(John Kelleher is managing editor of the Havre Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com, 406-265-6795, ext. 17, or 390-0798.)