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Through snow, rain, thank a mailman

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By Jerianne Strange

      The United States Postal Service has no official creed or motto. An inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City reads: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Surely at some point in your life you have heard the words. After all, the phrase is oft-quoted, misremembered, jumbled and regularly parodied.

Here’s the thing: the words ring true.

Six days a week the men and women of the U.S. Postal Service do their jobs, getting the mail through to its destination.

Monday – Feb. 4 – was “Thank A Mailman Day” – an opportunity to let these folks know we appreciate their efforts.

According to its website, the Postal Service has the world’s largest retail network in the United States — larger than McDonald’s, Walmart and Starbucks combined. And it is the only organization in the country that has the manpower, network infrastructure and logistical capability to deliver to every residence and business in the U.S. and its territories.

Each day the Postal Service processes and delivers 554 million pieces of mail. And every day, across the country, letter carriers and Postal Service truck drivers drive 4 million miles getting the mail to its destination.

James Senig, Postmaster at the Hodgenville Post Office, said the branch has 12 Postal Carriers – some full-time, some substitute – covering seven routes. Locally, they handle just under 9,500 pieces of mail every day and drive a combined 360 miles.

Some postal carriers face far more challenging delivery tasks than others. The carriers in Peach Springs, Ariz. use mule trains to haul mail, food and supplies eight miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, where the Havasupai Indians reside. Each mule carries about 130 pounds and the deliveries average 41,000 pounds each week. (The Post Office in Peach Springs has walk-in freezers for food headed on this route.)

Did you know the country’s smallest post office is the Ochopee Main Post Office in Ochopee, Fla., measuring 61.3 square feet? The largest is the James A. Farley Post Office in New York City – 393,000 square feet. The post office in the hottest climate is the one located in Death Valley, Calif. The coldest is the North Slope of Alaska, serving Barrow and Wainwright.

Weather doesn’t stop the Postal Carriers – it may slow them, delay delivery, require some improvisation – but not much actually stops mail delivery. And our carriers are often the eyes and ears of the community, noticing things out of place or unusual. The carriers conduct “mailbox watches” for their customers, Senig said, reporting anything of concern. Nationally, the Postal Service recognized 331 employees in 2011 for their heroic efforts.

Most postal carriers enjoy their jobs and form relationships with the clients they deliver to. Please take a moment to thank your carrier and to let them know you appreciate all they do, and mark your calendar for next Feb. 4: Thank A Mailman Day.