Saturday, April 28, 2012

Neither snow nor rain nor heat ...

.. nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.  This is the inscription on the James Farley Post Office building in New York City.  It is the main office for New York, built in 1912.  The zip code at the James Farley Post Office is 10001. 

The United States Postal Service is in the news these days.  It is fashionable to sneer at "snail mail".  Yet every day except Sunday, a postal carrier delivers to every address in the country - every one, every day.  The carrier and the community he or she serves are neighbors, connected by name, recognized by sight.  Perhaps the hey day of mail is passed, but the unifying mission still serves a purpose.  No address, however remote, is too far to go.

This week my husband travelled to Ketchikan, Alaska to do some work on the boat that we keep there.  He forgot his cell phone - the symbol of 21st century personal electronics.  At 4:30 in the afternoon I handed it to a postal clerk in an Express Mail envelope.  At 2:00 the next day he picked it up at the Ketchikan Post Office - a reminder that the Service still serves. 

After the events of September 11, 2001, the Postal Service used the vast interior spaces of the Farley Office to set up a temporary mail pick up for addresses obliterated in the twin towers.  On September  14,  the carriers who had served these buildings stood to deliver mail to those struggling to pick up the threads of lives snuffed out by the attacks.  A few days later, this commercial ran.  Carley Simon worked with the Service to record her song in support of  "USPS Pride".

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