Satur­day de­liv­er­ies ... a thing of the past?

The Willow Grove Guide - - OPINION -

I was once a mail­man. vou are prob­a­bly think­ing, “What hasn’t he done?” I worked for the Glen­side post of­fice dur­ing two Christ­mas breaks when I was at­tend­ing col­lege. The pay was good, I was pretty much on my own and ev­ery­one seemed happy.

In those days mail was de­liv­ered twice a day and dur­ing the Christ­mas mail­ing sea­son Eev­ery­one sent cards back then) they’d take the big­ger routes and break them in half. The reg­u­lar mail­man kept half, the Christ­mas mail­man Eme) got the other half.

I had my own post of­fice stor­age box key and af­ter I fin­ished my morn­ing run – and went home to Oak Road for lunch – I’d go to the large box lo­cated in the route it­self and pull out my af­ter­noon de­liv­ery packs.

My route was in the Twick­en­ham Vil­lage sec­tion of Glen­side. There were lots of hills EI think that’s why I got it and the reg­u­lar guy kept the less hilly por­tion) and there was one nasty dog that de­lighted in chew­ing up the mail as quick as I slid it through the slot. I en­joyed it, though, and gained ad­mi­ra­tion for the mail­man who does his rounds in all kinds of weather. De­liv­er­ing mail in rain or snow is, as they say, a bear.

So as an alum­nus of sorts, I have paid at­ten­tion to the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial de­ba­cle that has been the post of­fice of late. And I was sur­prised to read the other day that the postal cri­sis is solved, they sim­ply won’t de­liver mail Ejunk, ad­ver­tis­ing, bills or love let­ters) to you on Satur­days any­more Es­tart­ing in Au­gust) and that lit­tle dis­play of ef­fi­ciency will save a whole bunch of money Enote, that is not a tech­ni­cal term).

But wait a minute, the government just an­nounced that they ac­tu­ally made money in the first quar­ter of fis­cal 2013 - $100 mil­lion – de­liv­er­ing mail and now, to cel­e­brate that mile­stone they’ve opted to save even more money by not de­liv­er­ing it quite so of­ten. The fig­ures tell us that the post of­fice earned $17.7 bil­lion in rev­enue against $17.6 bil­lion in op­er­at­ing ex­penses, I’m not an ac­coun­tant but that looks like a profit to me. So what’s the prob­lem? To­tal ex­penses ac­tu­ally de­creased by 1 per­cent from the year be­fore. That should be seen as good news.

Well, here’s where it gets dicey, Congress is in­volved. So even though the post of­fice de­part­ment is an in­de­pen­dent agency and gets not one dime of tax money, Congress con­trols ex­pen­di­tures. Makes no sense, right? That means they’ve de­cided how to pru­dently man­age the op­er­a­tion’s fi­nances and, as a re­sult, it’s a train wreck.

One of the things they man­date is that the post of­fice pre-pay for ex­pected re­tiree health care costs. Pre-pay? Ex­pected? That means some­one there has a crys­tal ball and knows that so-andso might need some­thing health-care re­lated at some point down the road. Who says Congress isn’t om­nipo­tent? They clearly know stuff and you’ve got to pre-pay for it even if it never comes about. With that kind of knowl­edge of the fu­ture you’d think they’d be mak­ing a killing in the stock mar­ket.

The peo­ple work­ing at the post of­fice don’t think cut­ting Satur­day de­liv­ery is the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem. The of­fices will be open, pack­ages will still be de­liv­ered and mail will find its way to your post of­fice box. They are en­cour­ag­ing the deep thinkers in D.C. to look for other ways to bal­ance the fi­nances.

The postal ser­vice is a bargain. I can spend 45 cents on a stamp, stick it on an en­ve­lope and they will de­liver it for me to any­where I de­sire in the whole darn rnited States. It has al­ways amazed me that they are so good at it.

In my small busi­ness, over the years, I have fre­quently shipped pack­ages and my ve­hi­cle of choice is the post of­fice’s Pri­or­ity Mail. In eight years I never lost a package nor did one coming to me ever go astray. The pri­vate com­pa­nies no longer have my con­fi­dence be­cause I have seen them leave parcels for me out in the rain, in front of my door and have watched the driver’s walking down my drive­way sign­ing my name to the de­liv­ery re­ceipt – and off they go.

When I chal­lenged one of them about that I was told, “it was for your con­ve­nience, oth­er­wise you’d have to go to our distri­bu­tion cen­ter to get it.” But how con­ve­nient for me is it if some­one sees it sit­ting out­side, helps them­selves to it, and de­parts? I’d call and they’d tell me, “tough luck, you signed for it” Eeven though I really didn’t) and headaches would en­sue.

I’m a di­nosaur I guess. I don’t flock to the In­ter­net Eas they sug­gest we all do) to pay my bills on­line Etoo many ac­count num­bers I need to ex­pose), I do use email, but haven’t for­got­ten how to mail a let­ter. I ship pack­ages Ethat part of their busi­ness went up 4 per­cent) and, when push comes to shove, ad­ver­tis­ers will still use the mail be­cause they are a tan­gi­ble, not a fleet­ing im­age across a com­puter screen. To­tal mail vol­ume, by the way, 43.5 bil­lion pieces last year as op­posed to 43.6 the year be­fore. Looks to me like they aren’t bleed­ing cus­tomers.

So the busi­ness it­self is do­ing fine, the boon­dog­gle here ap­pears to be Congress med­dling in, tah dah, the health care as­pect of it. No pun in­tended, but it makes me sick.

Ted Tay­lor can be reached at ted@ ted­tay­

Ted Tay­lor

At Large

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