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Longhand letters and the rut in front of my mailbox


What will the elimination of Saturday mail delivery mean to regular folks? Well for one, mail that was not delivered on-time on Friday will now be three days late instead of one.

The more pressing question is can the post office it survive, or will it go the way of the hand-written letter?


“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Except it won’t be happening on Saturdays anymore.

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that it will end Saturday delivery for first class mail this summer. Package delivery won’t be affected.

The decision will save $2 billion annually and is supposed to return the service to financial stability.

What will the elimination of Saturday delivery mean to regular folks? Well for one, mail that was not delivered on-time on Friday will now be three days late instead of one.

Really though, I shouldn’t be cynical of an institution that for years brought me handwritten letters from my grandmother, who bless her heart, faithfully penned tomes to family and friends, anybody who could read really, almost every month without fail, sometimes weekly, about anything that happened. It took days to reach us. It was basically Twitter in molasses.

We hardly ever write in longhand anymore. We’ve traded in that smashed-in indention on our writing-hand forefinger for carpel tunnel syndrome.

My letter carrier is actually a decent, hardworking guy, and I like him, despite the oil slick in front of my mailbox and his squeaky brakes.

He’s also got the best pension plan my 45-cent stamp can buy. Or is it 46 cents? I honestly don’t know, because I haven’t mailed a letter in a decade.

So blame me and millions of other e-mail-hooked Americans for no-mail Saturdays.

I have little doubt that Generation Text will one day crush what’s left of the post office, if there are no lingering effects from chronic digital thumb. (Thumbs were not meant to do that, you know).

Just like the telegraph killed the Pony Express, which by the way had an oath of allegiance like no other.

It read, “While I am in the employ of A. Majors (who owned the Pony Express), I agree not to use profane language, not to get drunk, not to gamble, not to treat animals cruelly and not to do anything else that is incompatible with the conduct of a gentleman. And I agree if I violate any of the above conditions, to accept my discharge without any pay for my service.”

When the Pony Express ended, it ended. Just like that. Everybody rode off into the sunset.

I have to admit, I do miss waiting impatiently for those longhand letters. My grandmother would occasionally call us to let us know one was coming. They were artifacts – not a stream of 1’s and 0’s – that contained the very DNA of the person who wrote it. E-mail is not quite the same. I really do hope the post office can pull through this mess. If it doesn’t, I may actually miss the rut in front of my mailbox.


Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Feb 25, 2013

It is indicative of how far we are into the Digital/All-Things-Electronic Age that some school systems around the U.S. are no longer teaching children cursive writing. They say it is a skill that will be increasingly unneeded when everything is typed or entered digitally through scanning or voice transcription programs (one can only hope the latter are far more advanced than the ones that exist now, which as often as not produce undecipherable results).

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