By James Raia
Perhaps second only to an ice cream truck heading toward you with an upbeat jingle, seeing a mail truck is usually comforting.
Yet, the U.S. Postal Service always seems wrought with controversy. Postage is going up — again. Mail is lost and stolen or delivered to the wrong address. More recently, the postal service was criticized for not distributing election ballots quickly enough.
And perhaps most importantly, the postal service is facing a concern among detractors that it’s become obsolete.
A mail truck and its driver still work in the snow
But it’s difficult to consider the institution disappearing like other traditions — from fire alarm boxes to old school hardware stores. What would it be like without mail trucks?
For several years, the U.S. Postal Service has been negotiating with manufacturers to finalize a contract to build new fleets of state-of-the-art delivery trucks.
Current models, some more than 20 years old, are fuel-inefficient. There’s been an increase in mail trucks catching fire.
It’s time for a change, no doubt.
But just as it has affected many businesses in many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a delayed announcement of who’ll build the new trucks. It’s unknown when they’ll be available to more efficiently let mail carriers do their jobs.
In the meantime, as winter arrives, here’s to the tradition of the U.S. Postal Service, the tradition of the mail truck and those who deliver the mail.
As the saying goes:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” – has long been associated with the American postal worker.
The phrase’s association with the U.S. Mail originated with its inscription on New York City’s General Post Office Building, which opened in 1914. However, the phrase originally came from book 8, paragraph 98, of The Persian Wars by Herodotus, a Greek historian.
Perhaps it’s naive, but the tradition of mail delivery is important. Here’s to its future.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.