On Saturday morning I ventured down to the Bedford Post Office and stationed myself on the black metal bench outside the entrance, holding my home-made “Save the Post Office” sign.
I wasn’t alone in my action today: a couple (whose name, unfortunately, I did not get) came along with larger “Save the Post Office” signs and stood out facing the Great Road. They reported some favorable “honks” from passing cars.
It was blistering hot on the bench and after a few minutes of intense sun on my bare head, I went inside the PO to cool down. Postmaster Dave Zahar was in his office so I was able to chat briefly with him about general conditions at our post office. As most know, Bedford’s mail goes to Burlington for sorting and distribution and Zahar did not know of any problems there. Nor have our collection boxes been removed, as has happened in some areas.
So- for now, the situation is calm here BUT the overall status of the US Postal Service is dire indeed. I’ve long been concerned about the Postal Service and its financial woes (in fact, The Citizen published a lengthy article on June 18 outlining changes over the past decade which have brought the service to its present difficult position. See https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/USPS-Sidebar-06182020.pdf.) As a quasi-independent agency, the postal service is supposed to pay its own way. Without going into the lengthy history, one major factor is the mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund pension benefits for its employees. No other government agency or private entity has this requirement, which is crippling.
Even as I was standing with my sign, the US House of Representatives was in session dealing with a bill calling for $25 billion for the Postal Service. The consensus is, this bill will not pass, or if it did pass, it would be vetoed by the President who has his own agenda about the post office.
It’s amazing how an issue will suddenly flare up and engage the public consciousness. Aside from the pandemic and of course the election, the Postal Service is THE hot news item of the moment. But as new issues emerge, will we-the public-forget about the post office? I hope not. There is much work that needs to be done. You could contact your senators and representatives to ask them to continue putting pressure on Congress to do something about the Postal Service. Remember, it’s the word “Service” that makes it so important to all Americans.
As for me, well, you may see me again on that metal bench (preferably on a cooler day) waving my sign and engaging you in conversation about saving the post office.
Dot Bergin, a member emerita of The Bedford Citizen’s board of directors and a woman with a particular interest in the US Postal Service, writes often about the USPS, the Census, the Bedford Free Public Library, and housing issues.