Last weekend was a 3-day-one for federal employees. Because Monday was a bank holiday. Yet it seems that this doesn’t go for everybody employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS). I saw several USPS vehicles in different parts of the region on Sunday. And my heart went out to their drivers because here I was headed for lunch – and their family had to have Sunday lunch without them.
On Tuesday, I headed for the Lakewood post office shortly after lunch. I wanted to mail a calendar that one of my readers had won in a give-away activity on my public Facebook page. And a handwritten letter to my father, who is currently recovering from surgery in a German sanitorium. There was a line in the lobby of the postal office that reached to the doors. No way would that deter my determination to send off the gift or the letter.
It was a very interesting experience to stand in that line. Normally, I’d have expected some annoyed commenting. But this time, everybody was strangely quiet. People kept their distance, and all wore masks. If somebody needed help, such as being pointed to the mailbox, they were accommodated. Inside the business area, there was laughter at the counters. The employees treated every customer with kindness and patience, interspersed with good humor. And getting some very pretty, new Forever stamps added to my pleasant experience.
What was interesting to me was that the one bank holiday had such an impact on the frequency of the post office. It was as if everybody had had the same idea of packing boxes and writing letters over the weekend. And, of course, a lot couldn’t be mailed off on Monday. Well, I might want to avoid Mondays and Fridays as well as days after a holiday in the future in order to avoid standing in a line – especially in Covid times. But these postal employees can’t. They will be seeing these lines every Monday, Friday, and day after a holiday. And this is only their receiving end.
The delivery end is what I saw last Sunday. If there is an extra-load of boxes and envelopes, these people are out on the road even when they should have their day off. Tuesday started off with some thunderstorm from hell, heavy rain, and wind gusts that were ripping off big branches from trees. Did this deter the postal employees from delivering our mail? No. Because they keep doing their work rain or shine, in blistering summer heat, during wet storms, and in bitingly cold weather. When their load is extra-big, they deliver until their work is done. Shortly before I started writing this article, I found somebody on Facebook reporting from Steilacoom that their mail had been delivered around 1930 h on Tuesday. I keep thinking that by that time, I had had a cozy dinner with my husband already, and was chatting with him over a glass of wine very leisurely. And some postal employee was still out there doing their job!
The holiday season is coming up. I’ll be sending out a whole lot of cards and Christmas gifts in a while. Postal lines will be insanely long, as everybody will be doing the same. Maybe even more than ever, in Covid times, as letters and gifts are a sign that we care about our loved ones who are far away, whom we may not even be able to visit. I should hope that we remember that postal employees are at the receiving end when we bring them our load. We are sending out loving thoughts to our loved ones – don’t let us do it with impatience or anger against the postal employees, who are trying to keep ahead of the constant flow of mail. And let’s wait graciously for our mail if we have to wait. We are in the coziness of our homes while somebody out there is fighting the elements and foregoes the comfort of a family meal to deliver their task.
There are countless other essential workers out there who do theirs so we are seen to in our needs and whims. They have the same needs and whims as we, only theirs might get seen to later. If at all. If we put ourselves into their shoes, we can make their world a little friendlier, too. Even if there is a long line between them and us.