Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I Like the Post Office

Quick. Name one thing you can get for $0.44. Give up? A postage stamp. For 44 measly cents, I can send a letter from Kansas all the way to Wasilla, Alaska. Not that I would want to but you get the idea. Yes, I know it may take a week or maybe longer to get there but still for $0.44, that's pretty good. I do believe that the post office's days are numbered. Barring any type of massive change to it in the next ten years or so, the post office will more than likely become obsolete during the next generation. This saddens me because the post office is the perfect example of a government program run right. For over 230 years, the post office has been running in some form or another in the official capacity. Some form of mail delivery has been occurring since 1635.

Believe it or not but the post office still handles over 200 billion pieces of mail every year and they still do a pretty damn good job of getting the mail to wherever it needs to go. I understand that email is quicker but it's also more impersonal and not as exciting as mailing a letter or finding a letter in your mailbox. The post office is also the only way you can mail a letter. Sure, you can choose UPS or FedEx but I'm pretty sure they would charge you more than 44 cents, if they would even accept to deliver it. More than likely someone you know relies on the post office for something and since the post office is the third largest employer in America (after the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart), those people rely on it even more.

I hate when people mail something and immediately after three of four days they think it's lost in the mail and get uppity. I give the post office a week if mailing out of state, five days if mailing outside a thirty mile radius and two days within the radius. Maybe I'm just more patient than most people but it annoys me.
GUY: "It's probably lost in the mail."
ME: "Maybe. It's Wednesday now, when'd you mail it?"
GUY: "Monday!"
ME: "Where's the mail coming from?"
GUY: "Hawaii!"
All right. It has to go across a bleedin' ocean to get to Kansas then. Think about it people. I've never had anything lost in the mail. I've known people who've lost mail but more than likely they really didn't mail it but thought they did or they put the wrong address on it and now it's sitting in the dead letter office.

I know the post office needs to change--radically change to meet the expectation of mine and the next generations. Since the USPS is a government run program, there may be issues in trying to compete with email services such as Yahoo! and MSN but that may be what has to happen. Yahoo! or MSN cannot offer to mail your package. But if those companies have issues with the post office offering email accounts, what do they do? USPS cannot be self-sustaining anymore to become a traditional for-profit business but as of right now, the post office is still too heavily relied on to completely fold. As long as there are businesses and banks that do not have online payments, the post office will be needed by someone.

Recently, it was announced that the post office may be closing some post offices in the country. Looking at the list, it seems like it's just a certain number of offices in huge metropolises that have 50 post offices. Being a ghost town enthusiast, I know how important a post office is to some towns. It's jobs for the handlers and carriers, it may be the only thing that gives the town it's own identity. Nearby Lecompton, Kansas is a good example. Their school district is known as Perry-Lecompton but Lecompton has it's own post office (66050). If Lecompton would lose the post office and be attached to Lawrence, Perry or Topeka, Lecompton would lose it's identity completely. Luckily, Lecompton handles the mail for most of northwest Douglas County (roughly from the Kansas River to the Wakarusa) so a lot of people depend on it. Elsewhere in Kansas, especially in western Kansas, schools have been consolidated to where there's only one district for the entire county but each town may still have it's own post office.

So I guess I am for reinvigorating the post office and making it able to compete in these changing times. We all have to evolve sometime.

Unless you're from a Southern state.