Every morning, I get the U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery Daily Digest email. It lets me know what’s coming in that day’s mail and is helpful in making sure a bill doesn’t get lost or something like that. It also often illustrates the roles played by the members of my family.
Take one morning this week, for example. In that day’s mail, my stepdaughter received a bridal shower invitation from a college friend and Janet’s new pair of eyeglasses arrived from zennioptical.com. Me? I got a bill.
The USPS has been in the news a lot this week. It is a 245-year-old independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government. It is authorized by the U.S. Constitution. It’s as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and the Fourth of July. This may explain why so many of us take it for granted and don’t realize what we will be missing if the postal service is significantly changed or eliminated outright.
At this point, who knows if voting by mail will be reliable for the nation’s general election on Nov. 3. Record numbers of Americans have been voting by mail in primary elections around the country because of COVID-19 concerns. I’m not going to wade here and now into the politics of voting by mail. But I did vote by mail in my state’s primary election.
In my day job, I send a lot of mail. I receive a lot of mail at work and at home. Even though I conduct much of my bill paying and other personal business online, I don’t think we should — or could — completely eliminate the postal service.
My introduction to the postal service dates back to meeting Jack McKinley, the mail carrier on Route 1 in rural Chariton, Iowa, when I was a kid. We were box 106. Weekday mornings around 10 or 10:30, Jack pulled his pickup into our driveway and delivered our mail. By the time I was old enough to read, if I was home when the mail arrived, I’d often meet Jack at the mailbox because I wanted to beat my mom and dad to the Des Moines Register.
Jack was a Navy veteran who served during World War II. He died in 1998 at age 74. I remember him as a friendly guy who always had a few minutes to visit. He was also the guy who introduced my brother, Scott, to golf. We grew up at the dead end of a gravel road some dozen miles or so from Chariton, a county seat town of maybe 5,000 people back then. To the best of my memory, none of our farmer neighbors played golf.
I’m not sure how or why my brother decided he wanted to golf or how Jack knew about it, but he started taking Scott to play with a used set of clubs at Lake View Golf & Country Club, a nine-hole course in my hometown. After playing for only a short time, maybe a summer or two, my brother, who couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15, hit a hole in one on that golf course. I don’t know what Jack thought about that kind of beginner’s luck, but he must have had a healthy perspective about golf. He kept playing even though, I think, his wife was the real golfer in their family. I remember many stories in the Chariton newspapers about Charlene “Chick” McKinley winning medalist honors at one golf outing or another.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know other than to say it’s a good thing no one had decided to begin dismantling the postal service in the early 1980s when a scrawny farm kid decided he wanted to play golf. Jack delivered back then by being in the right place at the right time. I hope the same will be true for many years to come for his USPS successors.