In praise of snail mail

I once got more than 95,000 letters in response to a column in the Washington Post. The bosses were thrilled. At first. But the mail kept gushing in — after they had hired six temps to process it — it lost its luster. By the end of the exercise some of the bosses were grumbling about the mess, and the space it took. And the cost of processing the letters. That probably won’t be a problem ever again.

Trolls in Russia or North Korea, or southern California, may generate fake mail and electronic messages. But never again are 95,000-plus tongues likely to answer a challenge, lick a stamp and affix it to mostly hand-addressed envelopes, then mail them to a publication. Just saying.

A couple of months back, Federal News Network moved from its long-time headquarters near the Washington National Cathedral, to new Hollywood-set-style studios and offices a mile up the road. The place, and location, are terrific. Everything is bigger, better, newer. We are right at a Metro stop. New desks (that allow one to work seated or standing up), new everything. Including new mail boxes much nicer than at the old place where they were still pretty nice. One problem: No mail.

By no mail, I mean not much mail. As in very little. Since the move I have received two items. Two. One was a NARFE magazine that had been forwarded — by the Postal Service — from our old address. The other communique was a reminder from the American Legion that my membership has lapsed. That’s it. Gone are the days.


From 95,000 one time, and hundreds per week on a regular basis, I and most others are down to this. Very impersonal electronic messages. Welcome to be sure, and fast. But not letters with the thought and effort required.

Meantime, drones notwithstanding, the U.S. Postal Service is still out there and, believe it or not, not only delivering a lot of mail, but doing it quickly and at bargain basement prices. Case in point:

My eldest granddaughter, Annie, works in New York City. I needed to get an important, time-sensitive original document to her by, well, now. Today at 3 p.m.

Got the document late Monday, rushed it to the nearest post office, stuck on a Forever stamp and mailed it. It had to go from Washington, D.C., to NYC — about 225 miles — then get sorted and then delivered. Mission Impossible? What could go wrong, right?

Bottom line — she got it Wednesday afternoon, less than two days after I mailed it. Incredible.

Oh, and the cost?

Well it was an old Forever stamp. But when they mean Forever, they mean forever. I think I paid about 44 cents for it. For an almost overnight delivery service from D.C. to NYC. Try that with a private delivery service. Ask them to deliver a document from Key West, Florida, to Point Barrow, Alaska, in two days, for 44 cents. Then stand back while they laugh.

Snail mail may be a thing of the past but it still has its moments!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

Abraham Lincoln is enshrined in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Making the most of his long limbs from a young age, legend of his wrestling ability began in the streets of his hometown of New Salem, Illinois, and has only grown over time. Believed to have only lost once in roughly 300 contests, Honest Abe was taking names before he started grappling in the world of politics.


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