Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Since 2006, the USPS has seen rising net losses in revenue. What does this mean?
This means lower retained earnings.

Our USPS is in danger. Why should you care? It’s 2020, there are Evite’s for paperless post, Facebook groups for your Christmas Party, there’s endless social media outlet for sharing your latest thoughts and feelings; plus the world is at our fingertips with a smartphone in our hands. So I want to share a few stories that highlight the reasons to support our USPS.

For me personally, I have always loved the post office and I don’t know a more simple joy than greeting cards or handwritten letters. For as long as I can remember, my parents always had a post box. While we received mail at our house we always found joy in grabbing our penny candy at the Genny and walking to the Post Office to see George. Clearly that statement alone tips you off that I am from a small town. George was the postman in our neighborhood, retiring in 2015 following over 30 years of service. George was more than the postman to many, he was a friend. George would spend time with Isabelle the black lab that would mosey down to visit him for lunch, he’d make special deliveries to those who were too sick to make it down the road, and he always greeted us by name and with a smile. He knew us, and we knew him.

When George retired in 2015, there was an overwhelming response in the community; people stopping in to say goodbyes, sharing hugs, and mailing him cards with gratitude and heavy hearts. Today, my sister shares the same simple pleasure of a walk to the Post Office. Amid COVID she has lost so much that gives her independence and so being able to say “I’ll be back, I’m going to the Post Office” is something that gives her a sense of pride that we value immensely.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the USPS and our postal workers were put in high risk roles, among so many other essential staff. Postmen were often tucked away as forgotten essential workers, those working daily for our essential needs however never provided the recognition. Well, 11-year-old Emerson of South Dakota has taught us all a lesson in empathy, valuing the worth of those around us, and what it means to truly feel seen. While sheltering in place, Emerson needed a way to connect with friends as she doesn’t have a cell phone quite yet, being in 5th grade. Emerson began writing letters (and mailed them in hand decorated envelopes) to those she loves, her dad notes that most include a joke, a mention of her younger brother, adoration for Taylor Swift and plenty of questions! Emerson at one point was writing and sending five to ten per week. Then one week, Emerson added an additional letter addressed to her mailman, Doug.

Jokes to find in Emerson’s Letters:
Q: Why do you never see elephants hiding in trees?
A: Because they’re really good at it

In her initial note to Doug, Emerson introduced herself and states “I wanted to thank you for taking my letters and delivering them. You are very important to me. I make people happy with my letters, but you do too. The reason you are very important in my life is because I don’t have a phone so how else am I supposed to stay in touch with my friends? YOU make it possible!”. Emerson dropped the letter in her mailbox and carried on her day never understanding the magnitude of her words. Emerson’s simple gesture was a movement of gratitude and respect in times of unrest and unease. So often we muddle through our days, nodding at those we see or a quick wave to avoid small talk. We shake off these personal interactions in this world of technology when we should be clinging to these moments, these memories and these individuals who humanize our world.

The following day, Emerson received a package, in this she received two letters and some stamps. Doug had been touched by Emerson’s writing and shared this with his supervisor, who was equally moved by this notion. The following week, a letter arrived at Emerson’s home addressed to her parents. Doug’s supervisor, Sara, had shared Emerson’s note as a “Token of Thanks” in the internal newsletter for the USPS. Noting that she has sparked joy in times of turmoil.

Photo from Hugh Weber, Emerson’s Father

Following this, Doug arrived back at Emerson’s residence with two boxes of letters from all around the country. Prior to this moment, Emerson had never physically met Doug, she merely knew of his existence and his role in supporting her connection to others. Emerson’s father named this “a beautiful moment on silent reciprocity“. The letters mailed to Emerson were deeply human, they shared words of family, pets, hobbies, community and a general essence of kindness. Because Emerson was fully vulnerable in her writing, they were too. Emerson shared her jokes, and they returned the favor. She shared stories of being a big sister, so every gift she received came with a second for her to share. A maintenance manager in Minnesota sent Emerson two collector stamps from his collection with the hope of inspiring her to begin her own, as well as stamps to utilize to continue writing (218 stamps to be exact).

The most notable part of this story is this acknowledgement of the value of being seen. Emerson’s father notes many responses stating “I work alone in a rural post office” or “my kids live so far from me now” or “not many people think about how hard we work” and one line in particular stands out “I can’t tell you how much it means to read your letter” . Emerson read each individual letter and wrote back to each individually, there was no script, there was no formula, there was only heart. Emerson responded to what she received, she created dialogue and community. Emerson assured each person that while there were many letters, she had the time for them. She touched the hearts of so many.

So often we find ourselves lost in our daily shuffle, we find ourselves rushing through the day and we are tuned into ourselves. However, there is so much around us we don’t see, there are people we are missing out of knowing and moments passing us by. There are individuals in our world who live every day feeling invisible, yet for some this was changed by Emerson. It is very easy to take a moment of our time to give another human the one thing they may need, connection – Human connection is how we thrive, we feel seen, heard and valued.

Emerson did this simple act during a time when it was needed most. COVID has challenged our society in ways we’ve never known. Our world has stopped, our routines shaken, our fear amplified and our sense of loneliness peaked. Emerson did a small thing that mattered more than she realized, reminding us all that it truly is the little things that have the largest impact; she wrote letters to those who never expected a thank you.
She showed us what gratitude, empathy and the simplicity of love looks like.

Emerson’s father left his thoughts on this with some simple calls to action;
“Send a letter. Make a call. Practice self-care. Take a step of boldness, for yourself or for others.”

In the end, we all just want to know that we were known, we were seen and we were loved. So take this message and thank the store clerk bagging your groceries, hold the door at the bank, share a smile with a stranger; think about those we see on a regular basis and how we acknowledge their presence in our lives. We can never diminish the impact we can have on another human by just reaching out.

So, what can you do now?
1. BUY STAMPS – Every cent counts at this time and stamps are an easy way to give directly to the Post Office.
2. Call your local representative – Many stand in agreement with supporting the USPS however using our voice never loses it’s power.
3. Sign a petition – Text USPS to 50409
4. VOTE – VOTE AND VOTE EARLY – Help to ensure the USPS will not be overwhelmed at the last minute by voting early! Visit Vote.org for more information and the early-voting rules (rules may vary based on state)

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