The meeting with the representatives of the U.S. Postal Service was held a week ago on the subject of the closing of our town’s post office.
A meeting is required by law to be held in the community when a post office has been declared to be on their list for possible closing.
One of the things suggested to help our cause in saving our post office was a good turnout of the citizens. We did that as about 80 people showed up which puts it up with Easter Sunday church service.
The meeting lasted about two hours and I can say that it was a fine example of government double talk.
We were told by the postal representatives how important it is to service everyone by the post office and then told how they were cutting our service.
We were told that the post office can not close a post office because it is losing money and heard the rest of the meeting how we were not cost effective.
One of the reasons our post office was chosen for closing was that our postmaster retired several years ago and to save money, they did not want to put another postmaster in the office.
How have we had postal service without a postmaster? The person who has been working there since the postmaster retired, the OIC – officer in charge in postal speak – has been hired on a straight hourly wage with no benefits for one year at a time.
Each year on Dec. 31, they were fired and rehired on Jan. 1 for another year.
No one was complaining about the lack of a postmaster and the person performing those duties has been doing a wonderful job. It was the postal service who decided this would be an easy time to close the door.
The service does not own the modest building used as a post office, only renting it, and only pays an hourly wage with no benefits to its employee. This is about as cheaply run a postal operation as can be had.
Yet, it was being designated to be closed because we were not “cost effective.”
Much of the duties now being done by the OIC would be done by the rural carrier who would become a mobile post office.
We were told by the post office representatives that the rural carrier can sell stamps and receive packages as part of their everyday duties.
No mention was made about the rural carrier having a box to make correct change or a scale to weigh the package to determine the correct amount of postage.
The rural carrier would also have to know current regulations on what can be sent first class or parcel post or priority, what constitutes the classifications of the different size envelopes, all things a postmaster would need to know as part of the job.
I am located on the end of the rural route as the third to the last stop. Normally, our mail arrives around 2:30 p.m. or later when the mail is high in volume or with bad weather.
Because of the late-arriving mail, we have had a post office box in town for about the last 25 years.
The post office is not sure how will it will deliver the mail when it closes the post office, but is considering everyone being put on the rural route or using something they call cluster boxes that are a group of boxes placed in an open location where postal patrons use a key to pick up their mail.
Questions were taken and many people had their say about how losing the post office and whatever it was replaced by would not be as good as what we have now. Security was a major issue.
My question to the postal representatives was with the additional duties given the rural carrier, the carrier will be delivering the mail even later in the afternoon.
Their answer was if there is too much for the carrier to do in a day, they would hire an additional carrier. So where is the savings?
I told them that receiving my mail at 4 p.m. may be same day delivery to them but it is more like the next day for me. I was given the answer, “Someone has to be last.”
How did the meeting go? The first hour was the happy, friendly, smiley, “We are the post office and are here to serve you because you are important to us,” part.
By the second hour it became obvious that their mind was made up and there was very little we could do to change the situation.
They could have saved a lot of time by putting up a sign in front of the meeting place saying, “We’ll decide, not you. Take your medicine and be quiet.”
I would suggest the postal service adopting the motto, “We are the United States Postal Service where, even in our name, service comes last.”
Clayton Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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