Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Thoughts on an "Obsolete" Postal Service
By Mel Carriere
It's kind of becoming a tired habit by now, but once again I apologize for my prolonged absence from my blogging obligations. This time I blame the dormancy of the Tsunami on a bad stomach bug I caught on fight night at Chilis; one that had my wife and I huddling beneath barfy blankets in between frantic sprints to the bathroom. In other words, the better part of the once mighty Postal Tsunami was flushed meekly down my toilet. The ironic thing is we underwent this gruesome gastrointestinal ordeal and still didn't get to see the fight on Saturday because Chilis wasn't paying the ridiculous $5000 extortion fee to broadcast it.
I did have to emerge from my quarantine for a brief period this afternoon to send a check to my starving student son in San Jose. Since one can still only mail a letter at the good old United States Postal Service, I drove by there and dropped it in a friendly blue box, but on the way to the drive through collection box queue I couldn't help noticing that the parking lot was packed. As a matter of fact, the parking lot at the Post Office in our neighborhood is always packed, no matter what day of the week it is. This realization got the sickly wheels of my head spinning again, so much so that I stopped to take this picture and to mull over a few things in my still slightly feverish head.
When I first started delivering mail I did a brief stint as a PTF in Coronado, that quaint little "island" across the bay from us. For about a week I was doing the route that services 7 of the 10 high rises on Avenida Del Mundo; the home of the idle rich, along with Mexican drug barons and public officials siphoning from the public trust to finance an opulent lifestyle. A few legitimate millionaires live there too, I suppose. This was about 20 years ago, and at the time it was the residence of Orville Redenbacker the popcorn magnate, who had apparently forsworn the harsh Indiana winters for California sunshine. He was supposed to have been one of the nicer guys in the place, but I never had the pleasure of meeting him.
I remember I was standing there one day stuffing Pennysavers into gang boxes, without much grace or style because I was new, when one of those idle old rich guys with apparently nothing better to do came down to watch the show. I guess he could see I was stressed out by the knuckle-busting round peg into square hole endeavor that Pennysaver delivery can be, so he thought he would improve my morale by allowing me to partake of some of the accumulated wisdom and prophetic vision that had transformed him into one of the indolent rich.
"There isn't going to be a Postal Service five years from now," he told me suddenly, almost as if he had been lying there in ambush waiting for a newbie to spring this distressing revelation upon, having given up trying to impress the bored regular. "Computers are going to take it over. You wait and see."
That was in 1994. Here we are in 2015, 21 years later, and contrary to the astute predictions of that mailbox Nostradamus, the Postal Service is still here. We've been through a lot, we survived a near disastrous recession, but despite the concerted efforts of several incompetent Postmasters to destroy us we're still around. We're still "relevant," to quote our latest PMG, for whom the jury deciding the issue of her competence is still in deliberation, although the preponderance of evidence seems to suggest that she intends to keep steering the ship toward icebergs, just as her predecessors did.
The full Post Office parking lot I saw today, the one I see everyday as I drive home or when I have to stop and queue up myself (no head of the line privileges for the boys and girls in blue), demonstrates to me that in spite of the best efforts of our competitors to discredit and destroy our organization, America still loves us and is more than willing to wait in line to take advantage of the most economical and reliable delivery service in the land. There is no doubt that first class mail has not bounced back, but parcel delivery has picked up the slack, and if not for the disastrous PAEA act of 2006 we would be operating in the black. I just busted a rhyme.
My poor poetry notwithstanding, the balance sheets and my drive by inspection of the parking lot prove that we are not, by any measure, "obsolete."
One more important question to ponder: Why do they keep watering the dead grass on the corner you see up there every afternoon about 4:30, in flagrant violation of the Jerry Brown's water restrictions?
Mel's latest on Hub Pages - "Have Satchel Will Travel - The Daily Life of a Postal CCA"
The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap. I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say. Thanks for your support.
Photo above is mine.