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Save the Post Office

by Erin Z. Bass

A few weeks ago, I was at Lafayette’s downtown post office and overheard the postal worker telling the customer in front of me to spread the word that her post office was on the list of possible closures. The postal worker, Patricia, who’s been there since I first started working downtown more than 10 years ago, was worried she and her coworkers would lose their jobs or, worse, be transferred to another post office where they didn’t know their customers. When I got up to the counter, I asked her what I could do and she said attend a public meeting scheduled for the next week.

I later heard the meeting was canceled and the post office taken off the list for closure and asked Patricia about it the next time I went in. She said a lot of her customers are influential people in the community and she thought maybe they’d called other people in high places to help save the post office. I’m glad my hometown post office is staying open, but it makes me sad to think that other people may lose theirs.

After talking to Patricia that first day, I thought about why the possible closing of my post office had me so upset. Like I said, I’ve been going there for over a decade. Since starting Deep South and having lots of books and other goodies to mail out to y’all, I’m there about once a week. I’ve thought about getting that desktop post office from Stamps.com, but I enjoy driving the short distance to the post office and probably seeing someone I know. (While running over to take the above photo in what wasn’t exactly pajamas but close to it, I of course ran into someone.)

That seems to be what hits home for most people when it comes to the post office. It’s an outing, like going to the grocery store or beauty salon, and a chance to visit with friends and neighbors. Yeah, you leave with stamps and maybe a package mailed, but it’s a lot more than that. While browsing the “Save the Post Office” website, created by a guy in New York who just likes his local post office and doesn’t want to see it close, I came across a New York Times article with a title that says it all: “Facing the Loss of a Little Building, Much More Than a Place for Stamps.”

I love that the headline touches on the fact that our hometown post offices are usually pretty cozy. Mine was recently moved into Lafayette’s new Rosa Parks Transportation Center, so it’s a bit too shiny and nice to be described as cozy anymore, but the people and service with a smile are the same. And then there’s the smallest post office in the United States located in Ochopee, Florida. It’s the size of a closet at 7×8 feet, yet delivers mail to three counties and sells lots of postcards.

To find out if your post office is in jeopardy, see the list of possible closings. And if the thought of losing your own post office and the ritual of your weekly outing has you in a tiff, see Save the Post Office’s “What You Can Do” section or just go over to your post office and ask your favorite postal worker what you can do to help save their job.

Smallest post office photo from florida-everglades.com.

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