Does anybody still use snail mail?

My old pal Mr. Zip, from 1963. Does this postal veteran have long to live?

There’s talk about the U.S. Postal service cutting back, as the agency is bleeding money even faster than ever — as if anyone really expects a quasi-government function to pay its own way or something.

It wasn’t too long ago that the postal service was the only real way to send written communications, to transfer money, to receive a package. Maybe it’s creeping geezerhood, but I actually remember those days.

But now some cutbacks are under consideration. Possible scenarios include shutting down some 4,000 post offices or trimming the delivery schedule to just a few days a week. Shoot, if the postal service cuts back, none of the big-name, blue-chip companies are safe. Next we’ll be hearing that Kodak is going Tango Uniform …

… whoops, I forgot.

Like Kodak, the postal service provides a function that, while valued and appreciated, is losing ground to technology. Just as fewer people use film in their cameras these days (or develop that film like I used to), fewer people are really using mail delivery than before.

I’m hardly an example here. I’m one of those folks who will embrace technology but look longingly at the good old days. A high-tech Luddite. But as I examine my own use of the postal service, I can see why it’s losing its hiney.
In a few days I’ll need to swing by the post office and get a booklet of stamps. I usually get a dozen or 15 at a time, and that likely will last a year.

Most months I’ll send one item by mail: My rent check, and that’s only because my landlady is an even bigger Luddite than I am. Hard as I try, I can’t picture her huddled over a computer.

I might send a check to my business bank account via mail, but that’s only because I haven’t mastered the art of online bank transfers yet. Ironically, those instances where I use the postal service are the only times I’ll write a check — some archaic practices belong together.

As far as my other bills — electric, phone, Internet services — those are done online.

Strangely enough, it’s high tech that has me using the postal service more than I’d expect. Whan I order a book through Amazon, it still has to be shipped to me somehow. The cheapest, surest option is still the postal service.

A generation ago, doomsayers predicted the UPS/FedEx mix would kill the postal service, along with some of the vest-pocket courier outfits running around. Didn’t happen, but it didn’t help the mail system any. Further innovations like the FAX machine (does anybody still use those things) and email were likewise seen as a threat to USPS. Didn’t happen, but again didn’t help either.

In a bullfight, one can stick only so many swords, meat forks and Buck knives into the bull’s hide before it weakens and collapses.

Which begs the question: Who will get the ears of the USPS bull?

Or, would anybody really care once we adjust to the loss?


Talk to me: Do you still use snail mail? If the postal service was cut back like they’re talking, would you care? Use the comments section below.


Author: Eric Pulsifer

Eric Pulsifer is a veteran wordsmith with experience as a journalist, editor, musician, and freelance writer.