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Letter Carrier Delivering Mail

Ah . . . the good old days. (Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Are you like me and go to your mailbox day after day to find only ads, bills, come-ons for credit cards, and catalogs? Silly me, I still walk to the mailbox with a song in my heart and the hope there will be something of interest waiting for me there. I’m a slow learner.

Gone are the days of mailing invitations to your party. Why waste stamps and your time when you can whip out an e-vite?

Greeting cards are dying a slow death with advent of e-cards. Dancing cats, pink-cheeked elves, and shimmying grannies doing the Macarena now wish you a happy whatever. (I’ll note here I have never sent an e-card.)

Thank you notes and letters are almost a thing of the past. We communicate by email, text, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and a bazillion other electronic means. A guy wearing blue shorts, no matter what the weather, doesn’t deliver these missives to our door. But those trendy shorts sure serve to showcase the mailman’s hairy legs and knobby knees nicely.

We lamented (some did less lamenting than others) the death of cursive writing in response to my post about the elimination of cursive from many school curricula. What a conversation we had about that. (Don’t worry. I won’t mention again that the post was Freshly Pressed.)

Oh the thrill when a Netflix movie is in the mailbox. Or, when there is a package from your favorite adult bookstore.

Think of the many collateral businesses suffering from the change in how we communicate . . . greeting card companies, invitation and stationery printers, paper manufacturers, and makers of return address labels. What about all those dead horses and envelope glue manufacturing plants? Hallmark greeting card verse writers are standing in the unemployment line as we speak.

Where else is this era of byte-sized communication hitting hard?

Mailmen around the world are sitting in their mail trucks and twiddling their thumbs. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night keep these folks from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, but technology has stopped them in their tracks.

According to an article in the paper, the decline in mail volume and the grim budgetary impact is far-reaching. In France, mail volume is down 30% since 2008. Sacre bleu! Japan’s mail volume is 13% less than in 2009, and our friends, the Danes, are mailing 12% fewer letters than in 2012. Worldwide, letter volume dropped 4% in 2011.

The article goes on to state, “The United Kingdom is preparing to wash its hands of mail delivery entirely by selling the Royal Mail, which traces its roots back nearly 500 years to the reign of King Henry VIII.” The article fails to tell us who is buying the Royal Mail. My guess is Piers Morgan.

In a bold move, the United States Postal Service plans to stop Saturday letter delivery, thereby saving about $2 billion a year in losses. Then they went all mamby-pamby and decided to keep post offices open and will continue to deliver packages Saturdays. Why not cut that out too? Or, if you are going all the way to my house to deliver a package, why not deliver the rest of my mail while you are at it?

New Zealand is considering more drastic cuts and may deliver mail three days a week instead of six.

As Bob Dylan famously said of the postal service, “The times, they are a changing.”

It makes me sad to see the rather rapid demise of the postal service. However, I am a realist and we can’t keep racking up debt for a service fewer people use these days. I say scale back capacity to the level of demand. Or, we could helpkeep our mailmen gainfully employed and write letters to our grandmas.

P.S. There is still time to vote for your favorite Valentine’s Beer Photo. If you’d like, you can mail in your ballot and help save the Postal Service one envelope at a time.

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