Regarding the P.O.

What a service

Editor’s note: Anthony is taking a break this week, so we’re re-running this column from February 2012.

I love the post office. The post office is a useful government service and worth paying for, like Amtrak, Social Security, and universal single-payer health care. We shouldn’t expect it to make a profit or even break even—we should just pay for it.

One of my uncles worked for the post office for 42 years. He had a good job and was one of my mother’s heroes. I worked for the post office for a couple of years in the sixties and, while working there now is bound to differ from my experience, the post office is still doing the same thing it was doing when I had the best part-time job in town.

Management was a bit dim—as management tends to be—and it didn’t matter because everybody knew that the goal was delivering stuff. We never had strategy meetings or new thoughts about what to do. We delivered stuff. Because we all knew why we were there management had limited influence.

I don’t know what this month’s first-class postage is. I don’t care. It’s worth it. I can give the post office a letter and somebody will put it in the designated slot anywhere I say in the continental United States for less than 50 cents. What’s cheaper than that? Nothing. Businesses that depend on cheap junk mail can die and go away.

Whenever I piece together postage with several stamps I put extra stamps on as a tip. Since the post office people should expect to do the necessary work for every stamp sold, when I buy stamps and don’t ask anything in return, I feel like I’m giving them a little respite, a slackening in their steady pace, a minuscule, anonymous break.

The Internet has caused the post office to lose a lot of business. That’s traumatic for the people who make their livings that way, and I hope the government will do right by them as they try to find another way to make a living. I hope they can be as useful as they are now.

I give a little extra to the city of Chico, too. I used to keep nickels, dimes and quarters for parking meters, and now I use quarters only, even if I’m only gonna be five minutes. You’re welcome, Chico.

If you handed me a No. 10 envelope and told me where to put it in Chicago or Key West for 50 cents, I might tell you where to put it. If the post office charged a dollar instead of the current rate, I wouldn’t squawk. Deliver your own mail and see how you like it.