April 9, 2015
My friend Adam expressed that he did not like the term “snail mail”. His comment gave me pause. Of course, the word: snail is meant derogatorily, indicating that slow (at a snail’s pace) is negative. Let’s look further…
Last month, I was invited to speak to 19 first graders about my job as a letter carrier. I read them a story called “The Letter” from Frog and Toad are Friends. They were curious and eager to learn about the mail system and how it works.
Based on their interest, I began to research the adventure a letter goes on once it’s been mailed. Most of the behind-the- scenes sorting and automation is a mystery to the public. I found several YouTube videos that actually illustrate the journey, and I was awed by what I saw. One machine sorts 30,000 letters per hour! I came to a new found respect for the system. Honestly, there is very little that is SLOW about the Postal Service. A first class letter can cross the country in 3 days time. Individual states aim for the next day delivery. Amazon ships a majority of their parcels through the USPS, and they demand quick service.
Human beings are key in the process. They are placed exactly where careful handling is most needed. Often there are mailings that are fragile and/or unable to go through the automation. For example, beehives, ladybugs, funerary urns, car bumpers, tires, etc…require individuals handle those items separately. And of course, the finale features the letter carrier, who will deposit the letter, magazine, or parcel at your secure mailbox.
I highly recommend that you take 10 minutes and check out this fascinating video- “All Systems at Work”…Then tell me if you think the word “snail” still applies.
Snail mail is a slang term for the regular postal service (for example, the US Postal Service) with the implication that it is a lot slower than e-mail .