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Going Postal

 As we near the year-end holidays, one of the best things in the world is getting Christmas cards! Many people include pictures of their families or trips that they have taken during the year, and it’s a great way to catch up with friends and relatives that you don’t always see. This year is different. The pandemic has robbed so many of any joy this year because there haven’t been any trips and because some families have lost loved ones along the way due to this terrible virus.

But I’m still determined to send Christmas cards, and hope to receive some too from others who are as determined to spread a little cheer. My only concern is – will they be delivered? My faith in the Post Office has plummeted again, as it had a year or two ago. At that time, I wrote about bills that I mailed that never got to their destinations. Other people noticed too. In fact, I got a call from the Post Office Investigation department, or something like that. It seemed that they had discovered that thieves were fishing in mailboxes for checks and stealing mail and money. The Post Office acted decisively by appending a tighter mail slot onto mailboxes that made it tougher to fish for envelopes. It seemed to work, because my checks got to their destinations again.

That is up until recently. I noticed that it started happening again. I thought this time, maybe this is a ploy to get me out of the dark ages and into paying bills electronically? I mean, those of us with grown kids know that they don’t have checkbooks, don’t write checks, and have never balanced a check book! It’s only old fogeys like me who mail bills. It’s a lonely walk to the mailbox, and I seldom meet anyone on the way doing the same thing. I asked the person who lives in the house in front of the mailbox, “anybody else visiting this blue box in front of your house?” He said “yeah, plenty of people”; but I think he sits in his living room with a cup of tea chuckling at me putting my envelopes in the slot, like a gambler buying a lottery ticket.

And it’s not because I’m playing the “float” by mailing checks. Seriously, interest rates are so low, how am I going to make any money by delaying the National Grid bill. No, it’s because once every two weeks, I get to sit down and look at our finances and understand what I am paying for. Seems like a good practice, one that I learned from my Dad, and one that I did a poor job of passing on to my own kids.

Now it’s been a couple of weeks and no checks have been cashed, not even by the people who were supposed to get them. So maybe it’s not someone stealing envelopes, maybe it’s like those videos you see on Facebook every once in a while, when an overworked federal employee just dumps the mail somewhere. And I do have sympathy for the postal carriers, who at least in our neighborhood are really nice people you can strike up a conversation with. And Lord knows it’s a tough job when you are under-funded, and everyone is looking for Kevin Boyle’s absentee ballot in that tiny Post Office. I guess it’s just hard to find, or maybe it’s hiding out with my bills somewhere in that empty lot further up the road. Who knows?

And the business of running a Post Office as a government department is not easy, especially with FedEx and UPS competing against you, not to mention undercharging Amazon for all those deliveries. I see those poor Post Office folks delivering Amazon packages on Sundays. Is nothing sacred?

What I do hope for is that in this pandemic year, that Christmas cards get delivered and they get delivered on time and to the right people, and that they spread some cheer in a dark time. I don’t want to read on the app Nextdoor about lost packages and you probably don’t want to hear me droning on about lost bills. However, I would like the mail to get to where it’s supposed to be. How can we operate an economy if the mail is unreliable?

In any case, I am now dipping my toe into electronic bill paying. But I draw the line at sending electronic Christmas cards, at that I will go postal!

 By Lou Pastina

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