Top of the News: In David Brin’s 1985 science fiction novel, The Postman, a drifter amid the destruction of nuclear war finds a letter carrier’s uniform. As he wanders the small communities left in the Northwest, he finds that he is a symbol of hope to people that a United States still exists. And what was just a piece of clothing becomes much more, both for the drifter and the people he helps (and the book was much better than the Kevin Costner film).
So I’m probably becoming an old codger in finding it sad that the Postal Service wants to end Saturday mail delivery and close post offices. Yes, email means people are sending fewer letters, and there’s a dreaded $7 billion deficit (a few days of operations in our foreign wars or the corporate welfare for the big banks).
But it was telling in the book that the symbol of unity, of something more than desperation and “devil take the hindmost,” was not a military uniform or a banker’s suit. It was the letter-carrier’s jacket. Through the history of the republic, the Post Office was one of the biggest uniters and representations of “we” vs. just “me.” And now, like the art of the letter, it must fade away. Everything must be “run like a business” now, and the Postal Service lacks the lobbyists of Wall Street and the big polluters, who can conceal their real costs to society.
Oh, yes…”going postal,” that sign of dysfunctional government. It was far outweighed by private-sector workplace shootings, which continue apace even as the Postal Service has become more safe. Somehow my Facebook page won’t replace the friendly and competent carrier I see every day, Rhonda Jeffreys. For now, she knits together Belltown and it’s a treasure.More