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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Post office is a miracle at your door

The mail (aka the post office, aka the U.S. Postal Service, aka U.S.P.S.) hasn’t been getting a lot of love lately.

People refer to it, rudely, as snail mail.

People disparage it, crassly, as junk mail.

Some people, in the name of fiscal responsibility, are even making ominous noises about canceling Saturday delivery.

Well, I just want to say: I love the mail.

In fact, I love the Postal Service. I might go even further and say I love my mail carrier, but certain people might take that the wrong way. Anyway, I want my mail delivered as many days as possible.

In this text-messaging and e-mail crazy world, it’s worth remembering one thing: The mail is one of mankind’s most brilliant ideas.

This realization hit me with full force as I was walking to the downtown post office and a mail carrier was bustling across the sidewalk, loading bundles of mail into her van. She was focused, she was intent and she was a woman in a hurry.

And why?

So she could race to your neighborhood, walk up and down your block and deliver all manner of wonders right to your door. Think about this. Every day, these people organize millions of pieces of mail, sort it into piles by state, by city, by ZIP code, by street, by individual house – and then walk it right up to your front porch and drop it in your box.

Or maybe, they drive it to your rural mailbox. Or slip it into your apartment building’s mail slot. Anyway, you get the idea. They go to all of this work just for us.

Isn’t it nice to have one area of life – one area – where we still get personal service? One thing that isn’t interactive? One thing that isn’t do-it-yourself or serve-yourself? One thing we never have to sign up for? One thing that doesn’t require us to set up an account by calling a customer service center?

One thing that doesn’ t require a six-digit password?

And, let me remind you about one other thing – it’s free.

Sure, it costs 44 cents a stamp if you’re sending mail. But it doesn’t cost you a cent to receive mail. All you need is an address, and mail carriers will find you, every day but Sunday.

Some of the best things I’ve ever received in life have been by mail. Love letters. Tax refunds. Birthday cards. Royalty checks. College acceptances.

Hold on a second. Just as I am writing this, I hear the mail carrier coming to my door (actually I hear my dog barking hysterically, which means the same thing).

It’s just the daily miracle of service. Excuse me while I go see what treasures the U.S.P.S. has delivered.

OK, we have a Macy’s flier. We have a letter from a charity, pleading for money. We have a political missive. And we have a credit card solicitation.

So, yeah, not every day brings treasures. But every day the mail brings the promise of treasures, and that’s almost as good. Some days I still sit at the window, filled with anticipation, just waiting for that big white van to show up on my street (see “tax refund,” above).

I suppose I’ll survive if the U.S.P.S. really does cancel Saturday delivery. Yet it will make Saturday sadder. Both my dog and I will sit morosely at the window, wondering what treasures we’re missing.

Probably just a credit card solicitation, but still.

Reach Jim Kershner at