Location: Iowa, United States

61 years old (pretty old for a blogger) proud to be a grandpa

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quote of the Day

Speaking of love, one problem that recurs more and more frequently these days, in books and plays and movies, is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love: husbands and wives who can't communicate, children who can't communicate with their parents, and so on. And the characters in these books and plays and so on, and in real life, I might add, spend hours bemoaning the fact that they can't communicate. I feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up! -- Tom Lehrer

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Three Cheers for the U.S. Postal Service

A couple of weeks ago, I received a Christmas card that was addressed to a house we haven’t lived in for twenty years. I’m sure our “new” forwarding address was no longer on record. However, somebody at the local post office took the time to look in the University directory, spotted my name, and forwarded the card to me at work. Impressive, I think. The U.S. Post Service seems to be everybody’s whipping boy. Over the years, a public notion has developed that the USPS is inefficient, slow, too expensive, sloppy, and generally inept. Maybe we think this because 1) it gives us somebody to blame if our mail doesn’t arrive when we want it to (“Well, you know the U.S. Postal Service, sigh“, 2) it’s a convenient excuse for our own sloth (“The check is in the mail“--yeah right) 3) it’s kind of fun, and 4) we’ve never really measured our own satisfaction in any objective fashion. I’ve always been pleasantly amazed at the level of service USPS provides. Consider this: for a measly 39 cents (is there anything else that costs this little?), you can take an actual physical object, write a specific destination on it, walk a couple of blocks and put it in a box. Somewhere between 3 and 5 days this object will appear in another box on the recipient’s porch even if it’s three thousand miles away -- for 39 cents! I don’t understand why it doesn’t cost $3.90 or even $39! When I go to the P.O. the employees are helpful and friendly. So are the delivery men and women. Yet, we (by “we,” of course, I mean “not me.”) continue to gripe about it. Everybody seems to have some horror story of something being lost or unreasonably delayed in the U.S. Mail. How often does this actually happen? I suppose there are stats on this, but since I couldn’t find it immediately I gave up. I do know that in nearly 60 years of living, I can’t recall a single piece of mail that did not arrive at its destination after I dropped it in the box. Remember, also that after you put the letter in the box and it arrives at a business, there are plenty of non-USPS handling that mail. If it’s lost, though, the USPS automatically gets the blame. Over 206 billion pieces of mail are delivered to U.S. households annually! Amazing. I’m so inspired by my own message that the next time I see our mail carrier I’m going to tell him how wonderful I think he is. I urge you to do the same.