It’s in the Mail: I Had a Letter in the LA Times

by Jim Washburn

I've written I don't know how many letters to the editor of the LA Times over the years, and they have not printed just as many. I started thinking I was on a "disgruntled ex-Times writer; do not run" list.

But yesterday, they finally broke down and ran one. Maybe it's because the Times' new editor, Davan Maharaj, is such a splendific guy. Maybe it's because it was one of my few letters not specifically bitching about the Times itself.  Maybe they just wanted to bug me by leaving out my best line in the letter.

A few days previous, they'd run an op-ed piece by some blowhard named James Brovard complaining about the US Postal Service, claiming that the USPS has been intentionally slowing down mail delivery for decades, and essentially that they suck.

I happen to love the USPS. They are one of the reasons why I have nearly 2200 positive feedbacks on eBay: because, more than other carriers, they deliver the goods, swiftly, securely and economically. I've known some great characters in postal uniform, who deal with the grind of their job with humor and aplomb, like real human beings.

So I wrote this to the Times:


Was James Bovard bit by a mailman as a child? His attack on the US Postal Service (U.S. Mail: Slower and Slower) has some great lines, notably, "The Postal Service has often acted as if mail delivery was a mere nuisance distracting from the gainful pursuit of pensions," but it in no way reflects the service I use and enjoy six days a week.

Are they overpaid? I wouldn't know, but I do know they are overworked and understaffed, and do a damn fine job of delivering the packages I make my living from, faster, safer and cheaper than other carriers. I have yet to encounter a postal employee who wasn't devoted to his or her job. 


Along with other little snips, the Times ran it without the opening sentence. What's wrong with these people?



You are my hero.

Am sending this to my friend, Sharon, who was President of the Oklahoma Postal Workers back in the day.  She is permanently disabled from throwing 70 pound sacks for 8 hours a day.

I love the Post Office, too. 

Thanks for a great letter.

2011-12-21 by Donna Schoenkopf

The USPS is somewhere beyond amazing.  What organization on the entire planet, other than the USPS, will pick up what could be a very valuable piece of paper (or most any piece of paper for that matter) from a box somewhere in Point Barrow, AK addressed to 2615 Washburn Rd, Washburn, ME (yes, the address is real as is the town of Washburn, ME, population 1,750 +/-) and reliably get it there for 44-cents in less than a week?

FedEx or UPS or any number of private mail delivery services will happily step in to do the job.  For $10.50 or about 25-times the USPS fee.

I can hear the argument already.  “I can email the same information from Anchorage, AK to Washburn, ME via the Internet for free.  And it gets there in 44ms.”  Free?  Who can fairly/honestly make that argument?  Last time I looked at my Internet Service Provider’s bill and the bill the Internet Service Providers signals travel on the bills totaled over $50.  Oh, you forgot the cost of the computer and software and oh, $1,000 +/- more.

The 44-cent USPS pick-up and delivery program ought to be looking pretty good about now, eh?

Mr. Bovard and those who agree with him should think twice, perhaps three times before they again snipe about the USPS.

2011-12-24 by Chris Toy

Good one Jim, I hope you showed your mail person some thanks with a holiday Starbuck’s card or a tune on the guitar for doing such a great job. We are part of the fading generations that has the postal service as a given of our daily lives. I really do get more excited getting a letter or? from the postal mail than a email from cyber-land.
Soon USPS may be a thing of the past like the horse and carriage ...

2011-12-24 by Randy

Oh Yeah, gave the USPS a big thanks and cookies this year and make a point of talking with our guy for a few brief seconds once and a while to make sure he knows how much he is valued.  UPS and FEDEX are good at some things but they aren’t the “house to house” warm and fuzzy folks that I have come to know over the years in the postal service.
Good points to make Jim…ditto would be from me but less eloquently sarcastic.

2011-12-29 by Karen

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