Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
One piece of mail, sent to a destination just 10 minutes away took a 350 mile detour to get there. It may sound like a mistake but apparently it’s common practice for the US Postal Service.
Yes, “apparently” the US Postal Service doesn’t take each and every letter directly from the origin to the destination! Stop the presses! (Or whatever the equivalent is in television).
On an apparently slow news day earlier this week, WRGB TV in Albany NY shocked its viewers with a story about a man who mailed a letter to someone 14 miles away only to learn that it had traveled 350 miles! (Note that we’re ignoring the fact that you’d have to travel at 84 mph to go 14 miles in 10 minutes!) Not only that, but a letter he mailed to someone 2500 miles away arrived the same day!
Needless to say, the man was so amazed he immediately called the TV station, which dispatched a crack investigative news team to, you know, investigate!
Davis’s receipt shows the letter traveled from Chatham to Springfield, Massachusetts and then to Kearney, New Jersey and then back to Hudson, NY. Essentially, the mail made one big, 350 mile loop. “I think they could do things a lot more efficiently and then perhaps not have to cut Saturday delivery and perhaps not have to close post offices in rural areas,” says Davis.
The USPS explained to the TV station that they really didn’t run individual letters between individual post offices, but according to the story, “Davis isn’t buying it, saying he’s also concerned about the impact on the environment, “to use all that gasoline and contribute to all the pollution and increase our carbon footprint, it’s really troubling.”
What’s really troubling is the amazing level of ignorance this kind of story displays. It apparently didn’t occur to the mailer or the reporter that it might just be a bit more expensive, as well as damaging to the environment, to have thousands of additional vehicles moving small amounts of mail between every pair of small towns in the country. I’m guessing that the total volume of mail that goes from Chatham to Hudson every day would fit in one rather small sack. It’s not very efficient to drive lots of little sacks of mail back and forth across the countryside, to say nothing of the additional manual sorting that would be required at each and every small town PO.
Perhaps Mr. Davis would like to share his skepticism with another organization that has used a business model even more “troubling” than the USPS. This delivery company actually thought it made sense to fly all of their stuff from across the USA to Memphis every night for sorting! Unbelievable! I think it was called FedEx or something like that- whatever happened to them?
Oh, and by the way- please don’t tell Mr. Davis that the letter he spent a minimum of $4.90 to send Priority would have gotten there just as fast (or maybe faster) for 45 cents First Class…