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Postal service receives customers’ ire as well as sympathy

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Messenger of sympathy and love — Servant of parted friends.

“Consoler of the lonely — Bond of the scattered family.

“Enlarger of the common life — Carrier of news and knowledge.

“Promoter of mutual acquaintance —

“Of peace and goodwill — Among men and nations.”

The above is inscribed in marble on the front of the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., describing the mission of the nation’s mail service.

In days of yore, the greatest test of everyday life was not enduring hours of hard labor or the challenge of unpredictable elements, nor was it the lack of indoor plumbing or shortage of running water that was hard to live with.

The most difficult obstacle to overcome was the feeling of being shut off from loved ones who lived far away from them day after day.

The arrival of a letter was awaited by all with anticipation and welcomed with excitement. The postal service soon became a necessity for Americans residing in large cities and small hamlets. Today, despite the advent of e−mail, texting and the telephone, communicating by letter is still important.

For me, however, the constant avalanche of commercial mail, particularly during the holiday season, has reached the point of superfluity.

Only yesterday, I saw my hernia−prone letter carrier about to knock on my door carrying a mountain of mail. Most were brochures, advertisements and circulars, with just four first−class letters tucked between an L.L. Bean announcement and a Harriet Carter catalogue.

The sheer weight of the bulk mail weighed more than the letter carrier. Alas, after disposing of the chaff, I found that my first class letters turned out to be bills and a reader telling me how much she hates my columns.

Oy, do I really need the postal service to bring me all this happiness and joy this time of year?

My second gripe is the high cost of postage stamps. During my umpteen years of being a postal service customer, I cannot believe the price of stamps these days. I do not know anybody I want to get in touch with that much.

Why does the price of stamps keep rising? It is getting so expensive that by the time I buy enough stamps to mail my bills, I cannot afford to send them. College students are screaming that they cannot afford to write home for money.

A new stamp just came out. It is a picture of people pawning their iPods to pay for stamps.

If the price of stamps does not stop going up, it will be cheaper for us to go ourselves. Postage is so high that just mailing a get−well card can make you sick. Talk about highway robbery: The next time the postal service issues a new stamp with a higher rate, it should put Jesse James’ picture on it.

But do not get me wrong: I love the postal service.

Traditionally, they have been castigated, berated and despised, but I believe these hard−working men and women deserve more. I feel their pain and humiliation and salute them. And do you know why? Because, at one time in my life, I was one of them.

Yes, your humble columnist was once a mail carrier.

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