Way back on June 9th I ordered a fancy new umbrella. The vendor created a shipping label that very day, and sent me a tracking number. For reasons (perhaps among them, as they claim on their website, precautions in the warehouse against COVID-19), it was six days before they actually handed the package over to the shipper.

As soon as I’d ordered it, I looked ahead at the weather forecast, wondering if there’d be some rain to use it in, but it looked like a full week of dry weather. Of course, after it took a week to actually ship the package, things had changed. Happily, the package was on-track to arrive Saturday—I’d have my new brolly in hand just hours ahead of forecast thunderstorms!

But then the package followed a mysterious path on it’s way from Wisconsin to Illinois:

  • Jun 9 2020 Shipment information received
  • Jun 15 2020 Shipment tendered to UPS MI BELLEVILLE, WI
  • Jun 15 2020 Package received for processing Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 16 2020 Package processed by UPS MI Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 17 2020 Package transferred to dest MI facility Avenel, NJ
  • Jun 19 2020 Package received by dest MI facility Kansas City, MO
  • Jun 20 2020 Package enroute to USPS for induction Kansas City, MO
  • 20 Jun 2020 22:29 Shipment Acceptance at PO Hazelwood, MO

In what way is this a sensible?

I mean, I’m willing to cut the vendor some slack for taking six days between sending shipment information and then actually tendering the package. I’m sure precautions against COVID-19 reduce their efficiency in shipping things out of their warehouse. But sending the package from Wisconsin to Illinois via New Jersey and then Missouri? They spent 5 days getting the package to a different adjacent state, to a city only 72 miles closer than where it started!

Now that the package is in the hands of the post office, I figure it will actually get here in a couple of days, just about the time the wet weather ends and it gets sunny and dry for a few days.

I have written my congressman:

Dear Congressman Davis:

I am writing to urge you to support the United States Postal Service—both in general, and on an emergency basis.

The internet, email, and courier services all have their place, but the U.S. mail remains a critical service. It is used by many businesses and many individuals. Services only available from the post office (such as dated postmarks, and the presumption that something mailed has been delivered) are embedded into laws and common practices beyond counting.

On an emergency basis, the post office needs financial support similar to any business hard-hit by the pandemic.

On a longer-term basis, the post office needs relief from the onerous pension pre-funding rules imposed in 2006. (Or, if those rules are really a good idea, perhaps they should be extended to all businesses, and all local, state, and federal pensions.)

I remind you that the establishment of post offices is one of Congress’s enumerated powers, and urge you to work within Congress to ensure that the post office is preserved. Please let me know about the efforts you’re making.

Yours sincerely,

Philip M. Brewer

I wrote the letter, printed it out on paper, signed it, addressed an envelope, put a stamp on it, and dropped it in the outgoing mail. (I used t-rex stamps, which are really too good for Congressmen Davis, but I was trying to make a point.)

I started this post basically as a shout-out to the post office for doing a pretty good job of covering the range of holiday stamp needs. If you want to honor a major religious or ethnic northern-hemisphere-winter celebration with your stamp choice, the U.S. post office has you pretty well covered.

Jews and African-Americans will find Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps.

Christians who want to focus on the religious aspects of the holiday have two choices—manger scene with star, or the slightly more subtle lamb. (Is it the Lamb of God? Is it a reference to flocks watched over by shepherds at night? It’s a stretch, but you could even choose to pretend it’s a secular reference to wool production and the making of cozy sweaters—an option I mention because it’s a real possibility in this household.)

If your winter-holiday celebration has its roots in the Christian tradition, but is a bit less religious-focused, you have several choices. There’s a kid in a snow-suit making a snow-angel, a one-horse-open-sleigh reference, a Santa Claus, and some holiday decorations with Christmas cookies.

There’s even a stamp for Diwali (and the post office always has a stamp for Eid, although I guess this year, since Ramadan was back in the summer, they didn’t see fit to include it with the winter holiday stamps).

But just as I was getting ready to sing the praises of the U.S. Post Office for hitting just about every note, I realized that they’d left me out. There’s no stamp for me to put on my solstice cards. Those bastards!

I shall have to write a strong letter of protest.