I Remember Eddie

All the latest news about how poorly our mail service does has reminded me of my first recollections of the same service. Today, we complain about how much it costs to run the department, how long it takes to get a letter, and how often we find boxes of undelivered mail lying about in secret stashes. I will use a cliche to make my point, back in the good old days getting mail was considered sacred. Remember the old creed “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”? Today, it is still somewhat a sacred bond to deliver the mail, but it is no where near to the service we once had.

My first bone of contention is related to the position of the mailbox. In my home town of Chicago the mailboxes were mounted to the front of the house next to the door. Some doors had mail slots instead of boxes, and your mail was delivered to the interior of your home. Of course they couldn’t do that in the rural areas where homes are often many yards back from the road so the USPS allowed farmers to have post boxes along the road side. When did a suburban community become a rural farm?

My parents were poor and had a very small home in the city. The houses were two feet apart. In the modern vernacular that is known as urban density.

Our mailman’s name was Eddie. Do you remember your first mailman’s name? No? Probably because you never see him when he flys by in his cute little USPS delivery van and pokes his hand out the window into your box. Back in the nineteen forties and fifties, mailmen (Women who delivered mail were scarce back then) carried all their deliverables in a heavy leather pouch that he slung over his shoulder onto his back. He carried a hand full of mail that had been pre-sorted and gathered together in the order of delivery. The man or woman in the delivery van also use this system. It seems to work better when all the mail is bunched by address in the same order as the houses on the street. We knew Eddie because he knocked on the door to let us know when he put something important into your box. My mother was a very personable woman and made friends with him soon after meeting him.

Eddie’s first deliver was in the morning. When his leather bag was empty at the end of the street he was in front of a drop box. He opened the box with a special key that hung from his belt. Inside the box was more mail. After filling his pouch he went back to delivering. After lunch, Eddie made a second round of deliveries, and this happened six days a week. Today, the service is limited to one delivery a day to a box at the curb.

Back then, most mail we received came from someone we knew with news of the family. Today, I picked up six pieces of mail. Of the six, four were vanilla grade advertising flyers and two were important to me, namely bills. Yesterday, all the mail was of the type I label as junk-mail. Most mail is junk these days, and for this reason the USPS is seventy-eight billon dollars in arrears this budget season. If my math is correct every citizen of the US now owes the USPS $260 on top of what they normally spend in the budget year.

One year, I remember Mom gifting Eddie with some Bantam hen eggs for his kids. He was amazed at how small they were. Eddie could not stop thanking Mom for these eggs. Their friendship became really solid after that gift. I don’t remember when Eddie retired but after he did we never saw him again.

Evolution overcame the USPS and slowly the twice a day deliveries were stopped, Bags carried on the back lost out to bags on a carts, and eventually in the nineteen eighties the carts lost out to the zippy little Grumman vans designed especially for delivering mail.

Stamp collecting was huge hobby in the fifties. I began in the fourth grade and stopped collecting in the eighties or nineties. Today, I am pondering how to deal with the collection. People my age are flooding the market with old stamps in their collections making them valueless. I heard rumor that collectors who bought entire sheets of stamps as an investment are getting as little as thirty cents on the dollar for them. Talk about losing your ass, that is one sure way to do it, buy a stock for ten dollars and sell it for three. Have you ever wondered why some junk mail comes with a block of old stamps of small denominations? It is because people can buy the stamps cheap and the USPS has to deliver the letter as long as it has the correct amount of postage on it.

When I collected, I often thought the USPS was missing the boat. I thought they were dumb for not issuing more new stamps than they did, because collectors buy the things just to look at them, the postal service never has to provide any service for all those stamps they sold making collector stamps a huge profit. I would have provided collectors with special service above and beyond that of regular mail because other than selling me the stamp they didn’t have to do a single thing for that money.

Anyway, we find our selves debating how and when we will cover the 78 billion dollar shortage.

Is Man A Lessor Life Form?

Logo of the United States National Park Service

Logo of the United States National Park Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in March, 2011 I published a cartoon about this very irony. What sense do we make to the world, or to the universe, by contradicting ourselves so stupidly. Unless we mean that man is a lessor life form than other animals on planet earth.

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A lesson in irony.

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

This ends today’s lesson.

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Thanks Dennis for reminding me how stupid our government is.

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