Tweets aren’t always digital
This essay, by Marylhurst Postmaster Mark D. Smith, first appeared on the United States Postal Service blog. We thought our readers would enjoy it in the spirit of the season.
One morning in late summer 2012, I arrived at my job as Postmaster Relief at the Donald, OR, Post Office in Oregon’s rural Marion County. It’s a quiet little town with a quiet little Post Office, but this day there was a new sound – something familiar but often ignored. Birds, chirruping and twittering. But these were no digital tweets. This was real life.
A good number of Donald’s customers work in farming, and this morning’s singing telegram was a shipment of infant turkeys belonging to a local man planning to raise them for Thanksgiving. I phoned him at the number listed on the carefully-prepared Priority Mail packaging, and he arrived an hour later to collect his musical treasures. Before he arrived, I went about my morning tasks of sorting and distributing the day’s mail. But there was something more than just birdsong in the air. Something almost meditative stirred my soul, reconnecting me to the larger, natural world that gets no notice in the Information Age.
As the human story hurtles into the future at the speed of data, increasingly more of our experiences are conveyed digitally, through flat screens. The chattering, three-dimensional Thanksgiving turkeys made me thankful of the fact that the Postal Service delivers so much more than information. We deliver experiences – real life, with all of its noise and feathers. We’ve been doing this since before the Internet was a glimmer in the eye of modern man.
This valuable agency is older than the United States itself. American Postmasters have been around longer than American presidents and the first Post Offices predate the White House. Our first Postmaster General, that multifaceted statesman who once nominated the turkey as the national bird, established the early lines of communication. Before our nation could agree on a Constitution, we set to work on an interconnected mail system. We needed a way to share our ideas, philosophies, fears, and hopes for the future. The Postal Service provided a means to thread the individual colonies into one unified people.
That summer morning put me in touch with something bigger than mailing letters, bigger than shipping packages – yes bigger than full-grown turkeys. All human beings need to feel connected, to share their lives, strengthen friendships, and to give thanks. The Postal Service enables us to send and share first-class experiences that, like turkeys and Thanksgiving itself, cannot be duplicated on a flat screen.
Photo credit: Green Mountain Girls Farm via Flickr, Creative Commons license