People get annoyed when they don’t get their paper. I guess it’s good to be up there with coffee in our neighbors’ hierarchy of needs. While there are some things we can do to make up for a late paper, like hand you a copy if you can swing by, the harder job is to track down what has gone wrong. And why more delivery problems are happening now than when we first started printing weekly, back in October.
Mike Sullivan, the logistics guy at G.D.I., our printer in Hanover, Mass., suggested our local postal delivery folks might be overwhelmed and could be setting bundles of papers aside. “You’re new,” he said. “Maybe they don’t know the paper, really.”
We called on our local post offices to ask them. What we heard disproved Sullivan’s theory: “Of course we know the Independent,” they said. “And we know how important newspapers are for the community. As soon as we get them, we’re on it.” The people who work in our local post offices are not to blame.
We finish our editing and layout every week late Tuesday night, and G.D.I. has never missed our print deadline. The papers are addressed, sorted, bundled, and delivered like clockwork to Wareham, the Cape’s mail hub. That’s where our Cape Cab driver loads up the papers bound for newsstands, too.
Snafus can happen, we learned, as papers are unloaded and reloaded on multiple trucks at stops along a circuitous path from Wareham to here. But details about what happens inside the postal system are hard to come by these days. Kathy, in Wareham, used to take our worried calls. Lately, she doesn’t answer.
The Washington Post reported on July 14 that the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, had come up with some “fresh ideas” for the Service. While traditionally postal workers were trained not to leave letters behind, USPS employees are now told they’ll see mail left undelivered on the workroom floor or in processing and distribution centers — “a change that may be difficult for some employees.”
It’s not so great for us or for our readers, either. Or for the very idea of postal delivery as fundamental to democracy.
DeJoy has no Post Office experience. He owns interests in UPS and other USPS competitors. Meanwhile, pandemic relief funding hasn’t made its way to the Post Office. Overtime has been cut, too.
If all this is making you uncomfortable about the Postal Service, that’s what it’s meant to do. The day our papers went missing, July 30, the current president tweeted a suggestion that mail-in voting would produce a fraudulent election.
May neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay voters from the polls in November.