Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General? And that the U.S. Postal Service traces its roots right back to the days of the Revolutionary War? And in fact, it is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution?
There are over 617,000 employees of the USPS, making it the third largest employer in the U.S., only behind the federal government and Walmart. The USPS operates the largest vehicle fleet in the U.S., if not the world, and is said to deliver more than 150 billon pieces of mail annually through its 31,500 post office locations.
So, it was alarming to find out that mail that I put in a mailbox simply never got to its destination. Over my 60 years here in the U.S., I always assumed that if you put mail in a mailbox, it would somehow magically find its way to its destination. So, when a week went by without any of my bills being paid, I didn’t panic. After two weeks I began to check my online bank account to see if any checks cleared, and when I didn’t see anything clear after three weeks, I thought to myself, “not good.”
So, I went to our little Post Office on Beach Channel Drive, where to my surprise some customer was furious and yelling at the poor postal employee. I said to myself, well that’s very rude, I am not going to do that, and inquired politely how mail I put in a box not ten feet away from the Post Office had not been delivered in more than three weeks. Not one envelope in 12 reached their home. I was told that I should check with the Postal Inspector. Now I remember Wilford Brimley on Seinfeld playing the Postmaster General, and I thought, really? In that episode, Kramer was dealing with a junk mail problem, and ole Wilford was not having any of it.
I tried calling but to no avail. Then I noticed that there was a way to complain online with the USPS, so I did. And one night while rehearsing at AB Studios at about 10 p.m., I get a call from the postal inspector. I thought it was a joke, but they explained that they got my email and wanted to follow up and that I should call the number they gave me. And so, I did. The individual was very nice but explained that people have been robbing mailboxes. I said to him, “right outside the post office?” and he said, yes. Well, why not tell people that? He told me to cancel the checks. I told him at $35 a canceled check that was not going to happen. He said they would investigate if any check had been cashed. I thought, well at least they followed up.
With the ever-expanding Rockaway population, faith in the mail delivery system is all-important. I am not someone who believes in paying everything electronically, I just don’t know how anyone can keep track of their finances doing that. Although my youngest has been working a year and has yet to write a check in her life. I guess I am falling behind!
Do you remember the old Santa Claus movie (Miracle on 34th Street) when they proved that Santa really did exist by delivering all the mail for Santa to the courtroom? What would have happened if none of it was delivered? Santa wouldn’t have existed? That would simply be too much for me at this point in my life. I believe in Santa, I believe that Wilford Brimley is the Postmaster General and I believe the mail will be delivered here in Rockaway, or at least I hope it will.