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Postal Magic for Less than a Cup of Coffee
January 27, 2016
by Loren Mayshark

I am not a philatelist. Although I will admit readily that indeed I do get pleasure from having and handling those sweet little things. I used to lick them, but nowadays it’s difficult to get one that way. 
A stamp, that is.

I wrote a letter to my friend in California. I wanted to deliver it to him personally but California is a long way from Sherman, NY.  So, I go to the post office and I hand the envelope to a postal woman behind the counter. In turn, she hands it to a truck driver who drives it all the way to the Buffalo post office where a laborer takes it to the airport and puts it on an airplane. A pilot flies my letter to California and then makes sure another truck-driving postal worker takes the envelope to yet another post office. A postal worker there then puts my envelope into a mail carrier’s handbag, where that mail carrier takes it and drives to the neighborhood of my friend Patrick. He gets out and walks up the street and then puts my envelope into the letter box attached to his house. When Patrick gets home, he’ll read my letter. 

I could have delivered my letter differently. I could have searched for something like Cheap-O Airlines online, found a one-way flight to California for about three-hundred-fifty dollars.  But even then, I would have had to take a taxi to the street where Patrick lives and put my letter into his letter box and wait for him because he’d probably not be home from work when I got there. This seems like an extreme way to get my message to a pal.

All of these logistics and ideas were running through my head as I stepped into the Sherman, NY Post Office. After I’d given my letter to the postal woman in Sherman, before she handed it to the truck driver, I walked out of the post office and had this thought: I got all those people to do that for forty-nine cents—first class postage as of then, November 2015.

It is wonderful what we can do when we pool our resources and work together.

The theme here is obvious. There are small benefits from a collective social business which can have a larger context. Now that “snail mail” has been openly mocked on the internet for years, it is obvious that we have passed into a new era. In this new era the post office has been seen as a nuisance by many people rather than a valuable tool of commerce and correspondence. As a result of our changing attitudes, funding has been cut and so have postal services throughout the country.

Unfortunately, we fail to realize what a valuable tool the post office is and how it makes commerce and correspondence cheaper and easier for large portions of our population.
The efficiency of the U.S. postal system has certainly been questioned by those who believe that the services provided could have been better with private carriers like Federal Express. But they fail to understand that for certain people, it would be either impossible to use these services or prohibitively expensive depending upon where they reside. Also, the U.S. Postal Service has survived and delivered since 1775 in the face of wars, depressions, and natural disasters.

Finally, it is important to note that the U.S. Postal Service was free until 1863. It continues to form part of the bedrock of what our society needs to function. The post office is a constant reminder that in certain situations we are better off pooling our resources for the greater good rather than allowing private enterprise to govern every aspect of our lives.

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