Thursday, March 8, 2018

Going Postal

Related imagePolitics is great, I love to write about it, think about it, but occasionally, I’ve had enough politics and want to divest myself from the fray and delve into other topics of interest.  Like the post office. 

Have you heard that the US Postal Service is struggling and has been for several years?  Who hasn’t?

Even with a 2-cent stamp increase in recent months, the postal service is currently facing a potential  7 billion deficit, prompting the closure of nearly 3200 post offices around the country.  I wonder if there is a political angle here?   Do we really need the postal service?  Just asking.

Years ago, I wrote a blog about the post office, it was about an idea that I had about a TV show that deals with lost letters, letters delivered years after their initial posting and the effects of those now delivered letters would have on their current recipients.

Can you imagine opening your mailbox and seeing a letter from a former girlfriend or boyfriend mailed 30 years ago? How about a hand-written will penned 43 years before from your grandfather that alters significantly the provisions of his inheritance?  The possibilities are endless and the storylines incalculable, it might even be watched by a few.

When you really think about it The US Postal Service has actually does a pretty good job considering the amount of mail it delivers.  It is estimated that only about 10% is lost or misplaced leaving a whopping 90% delivered each day.  EXFC “External First-Class Measurement System," USPS reported an EXFC score of 90% nationwide last year.

Each year approximately 210,677,241,000 (that’s billions) pieces of mail are delivered each year, that’s a lot of mail to keep track of and to get to the right person at the right time.   Even with that gargantuan number the total pieces lost per year can be as high as 1,000,000,000, again that’s a billion, pieces that get lost, misplaced, destroyed or just simply disappear. 

Recently the total delivered pieces has fallen by 9 billion lowering the overall revenue and those numbers are expected to continue to decline as more and more people use email and chat functions to deliver their messages to each other.  The junk mail division, if there is a division of junk mail is increasingly becoming the lion's share of what our postal service delivers.

If you’re wondering if it’s just the fault of the US postal system, in Great Britain at least 280,000 letters are lost or delayed every week, 0.07% of the 21 billion letters a year handled by the Royal Mail could be lost or misplaced.

The percent of mail lost has fluctuated somewhat over the years but it’s always been between 6 and 10% and if you factor in the number of years the postal service has been in operation, since July 26, 1775, you can only speculate how many billions of lost letters and packages there are hiding in some obscure warehouse or forgotten drawer in some forgotten building of a once used postal office.  Bags of mail could be lost with other stored equipment or even an entire building dedicated to those lost letters. 

My TV idea would create a discovered warehouse filled with old bags, boxes, and crates that had been routed there by some unexplainable glitch in the delivery system, with letters and packages dating back to over 150 years.  The postal inspectors would deliver what they could and each week the TV show would focus on three to four pieces of mail to the surviving parties with the backstory of how those letters were created, and the effects on the living recipients when the contents were finally revealed.

With over a billion letters lost you can imagine the lost words that go unsaid, the lost apologies, or good wishes, the words of wisdom from a grandfather to a grandson or a mother to her struggling daughter or the legal documents that might have a profound effect on current conditions within a business or agreement. 

Every year there are a few sensational stories of letters being found and delivered.  Just the other day there was a story of a 30-year-old love letter never finding its way.  There is the occasional hand written letters that eventually get delivered but the majority of those lost letters remain lost, billions of pieces of mail that may never find their way home, leaving one to seriously wonder if there is a building, a warehouse, maybe a huge facility like the one at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie or in the warehouse 13 TV show that depicts acres and acres of stored and forgotten boxes and crates, known only to a few select secret workers that have clandestine motives to stay the hand of delivery and forsake the age old motto of the Persians under Cyrus:  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. 


So next time you think the post office lost your letter or you need an excuse why your payment wasn’t received, you really can blame it on the post office, yours will be just one of the billion or so that get lost, so take heart that excuse still works or just email it or text your thoughts that works too.