As the daughter and daughter-in-law of retired life-long postal workers I've always defended the USPS. I'm the person who stands cheerfully in line, often deflecting the grumbling and grouching of others while waiting to mail letters and packages. Never one to throw business at the guys in brown or that fancy Fed-ex I remained loyal to the place that buttered my family's bread. That's changed.

Before it was always a time to maybe see friends, meet interesting fellow human beings and just plain people-watch while queueing to accomplish a mundane task. I liked to sneak peeks at the addresses of their boxes and letters and imagine the lives at the other end. There were the postage stamp posters for entertainment if all else failed. But those trips to the P.O. have lost their charm.

Lately my upbeat attitude is as outdated as the yellowing cardboard display with it's heartfelt but naive suggestion that stamp-collecting is a healthy alternative to drugs. Ironic that the post office has gone to pot in another way so to speak. Lots of lobbies are dirty and disheveled; ravaged, never-refilled bins where forms and flat-rate (a great idea by the way) boxes should be and lifeless chains without pens at the end are the norm. 

I don't want to be one of those people who enter the post office, jaw set, ready to be disappointed, much less the ones who come in itching for a fight. You know them, they sigh and roll their eyes in line, they turn around looking to the folks behind them for commiseration and mumble something about taxpayers' dollars even though the agency is solely funded by postage it collects. 

Employees seem to barely make eye contact much less muster a smile. I guess they have been beat down so hard by irritated customers they are just getting through their day or is it the other way around? And why is there only one clerk when the line is out the door?

Out in the community some walking mail carriers still seem to care, but many can't be bothered and brush by you, deaf to your presence behind their earbuds. There's no longer such a thing as a regular mailman their routes change so frequently.

Should the USPS get out of the buggy-whip business and just give up? Is it a top-down or a bottom-up problem? Are there any bright ideas for breathing life into what was such a vital service? In the city we find alternatives, but little towns that lose their post office are not long for the world. 

What do you think? Anyone besides me ready to break up with the post office, or am I one of the last ones still hanging on?

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