For the last several weeks, we’ve been teasing the content of this year’s A to Z Issue, a celebration of people and businesses who have been successfully riding the turbulent waves of change and offering service and hope to the community at large. The print edition is now arriving in local mailboxes, but if you can’t wait for the hard copy, here’s the digital version — and meanwhile, welcome to the letter “U”:
This one’s personal. I can’t imagine losing an institution like the United States Postal Service, and here are four reasons. My nephew, Jeff, is a mail carrier. So is his fiancée, Janel. My late stepmother, Dorothy, was postmistress of the small Massachusetts town where I grew up. And David McLean (pictured), the mail carrier in the West St. Pete neighborhood where I moved with my husband earlier this year, is one of the reasons we’re glad we live here.
David knows everyone and everyone knows him (at 6-foot-5 he’s hard to miss). He’s unfailingly friendly and cheerful, and he really does seem to like his job, delivering the mail through rain, heat and pandemic without complaint. In a world where so much has become automated and impersonal, he’s an everyday reminder of how essential essential workers are — not just because of the jobs they do but because of the human connection they provide.
But beyond the personal, there’s the global. Consider this passage from a recent article about the USPS by Philip F. Rubio, a professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University and a former mail carrier:
“Who else will distribute stimulus checks, census forms, online purchases, letters, parcels, books, magazines — in fact, anything that takes postage? How else can Americans vote by mail? Postal workers are out there right now, delivering face masks and test kits, and hopefully one day soon they’ll be delivering vaccines as well.”
Who else indeed?