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.
U.S. Postal Service isn’t getting better; its old trucks are burning
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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.
Philmont Scout Ranch was having the same problem since the Suburbans they use are not built as strong as the old Suburbans were. They need Uni-Mogs !
If usps wants to be a service long term then the decision for the next truck is clear. 100% electric. I am a rural carrier in mi and drive a Prius. I get roughly 43 mpg on the route. I save roughly 15-20k$ per the life of the vehicle just on gas savings. If it was all electric it would be twice that
Complain all you want. Where else can you send a letter across the street or across the country for 55 cents? The post office has failings just as any business but in order to keep service as good as it js they have had to go more to machines. If you use your + 4 code it would help. The mail is sorted more by machines and if you get someone else’s mail, see if the sender put the + 4 numbers on it. A lot of the problem surrounding the post office is due to CONGRESS implementing a law to fund pensions. A new hire and the post office has to fully fund his pension NOW.Heck, he (or she) may only work for a couple years but all that money,however not yet earned is tied up in future payments. Taking the politicians out of the post office would be a great place to start.
How do you know your mail didn’t wind up across town and into a I.D. theft address? Your troubles are just beginning because the post office delivered your bank statement to the wrong address. Many of us can be subjected to this and the problem mounts.
That’s why you go paperless
I believe that we need to properly fund the Post Office as a government institution (not a private company) and return it to its goal of connecting all Americans. Subjecting the United States Post Office to market forces has not been helpful.
I also don’t like toll roads or the charging of fees to visit National Parks. I like the freedom that private property provides to individuals, but some things just work better under public ownership rather than private ownership.
We need New leadership at the USPS.
Here is a perfect Case In Point about how bad the USPS is!
I live in Louisiana and on Saturday I received a LETTER marked Postage Due, return to sender! Well, it was delivered to my address and it was NOT addressed to me!
Come to find out the letter was from a organization in Mississippi and the letter was addressed to an INMATE at the Mississippi State Prison in Parchman, MS, who is in prison for life!
So, begs the question: How does a letter from Mississippi, addressed to someone in Mississippi, end up in My Mail Box in Louisiana???
Now, I know all the “NAY SAYERS” out there are gonna ask how do I know the Person was in Prison? Simple: Prisoners have to have specific identification on Letters, so authorities can verify nothing illegal is being sent to the Inmate. In this case, the Prisoners ID number is on the envelope, a Marking MSP (for Mississippi State Prison) and it is addressed to Parchman, MS! Combined these factors and you can easily look up the information online.
Follow up to my above posting.
NO I DID NOT OPEN THE LETTER (that would be a felony).
However, I will be having a Discussion with our local post office official as to how this letter got directed to my mailbox??
YUP, the USPS, one of the most mismanaged and incompetent government organizations around!
No service that handles as many items daily as the USPS is 100% efficient. We occasionally get mail intended for the neighbors. It’s easy for this to happen as those human mail carriers generally have to sort their own mail for delivery as quickly as possible. Something might get mis-sorted and sometimes similar bulk mail items stick together. No problem, leave the item in the mailbox & flip up the flag. It’ll be on its way to the addressee the next day.
Other non-quasi-governmental delivery services also make mistakes. We found boxes on our doorstep with a similar address. Considered calling the delivery service but noticed the recipient’s phone number on the label so I left a message on her phone. She honked & waved when she picked them up. The phrase in the sixties was “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
As I wrote this on a Sunday, the USPS just delivered a package. They’re out there trying anyway.
A lot of mistakes are made during the sorting at the local level, we routinely receive mail that the only thing common to our address is the number 71 and the town. It’s a small town and I don’t even know where that particular street is, it probably has to do with the speed at which they are sorting. I just put it back in the box and raise the flag, the next day the carrier picks it up and takes it back to the PO to get resorted the next day and delivered 2 days later. I remember about 25 years ago I was always amazed at how fast the mail could travel halfway across the country and be delivered in a day and a half, two days max. Then everything became computerized, now if your mail is delivered in three days you are doing good. Ex. Yesterday we got a Christmas card from the son who lives outside of the town 11 miles away, after their carrier picked it up and took it to the PO, that night a truck took it to Chattanooga, TN 63 miles away where it was sorted and put on a truck the next da
Cont.d y and brought to our town 11 miles from origination to be resorted and delivered. Post mark was 3 days ago with a stamped note on the front of the envelope about sorted in Chattanooga, TN. That’s government efficiency in action!
During a pandemic, THIS is what bothers you???
Why not? Pandemic or not, this craziness goes on no matter what. From talking to our regular mail person, she says our local PO can’t get people to work – letter carriers specifically. They hire someone, they work for a couple weeks, and decide they don’t want to do the work so they quit. Even long time carriers make an occasional mistake, but the new hires make TONS of mistakes. I don’t care if I don’t get the latest Harbor Freight sales rag, but I DO care if I get my magazines and important financial mail!