Many of us have heard the postal carriers’ motto in one form or another. One popular version is “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.”
The original saying was actually, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” and was said about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this adage during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high esteem.
Today many people believe this saying to be the U.S. Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) motto, but, in fact, it is not their official slogan. According to the U.S.P.S. they have no slogan at all. The reason it has become identified with the U.S.P.S. is because back in 1896-97 when the New York City General Post Office was being designed, Mitchell Kendal, an employee for the architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, came up with the idea of engraving Herodotus’ saying all around the outside of the building. From that time on that saying has been associated with U.S. postal carriers.
Monday, December 5, the U.S.P.S. invited the media to an open house celebration at their main office at 1501 South Clinton Street. Members of the post office were available for interviews, and tours were given to demonstrate what goes on at the downtown post office behind the scenes. While we are home snuggled under a comforter watching TV, the U.S.P.S. is a beehive of activity. Postal workers are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an effort to make sure your letters, cards and packages get to their destinations on time.
Grant Norton, Directory Analyst Specialist, led a group through the post office, explaining the various tasks and challenges that face postal workers on a day-to-day basis. The amount of mail being handled is enormous. On a national scale, the Postal Service will deliver 20 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. On average, the Postal Service processes 670 million pieces of mail every day. On the “peak” mailing day, December 18, that volume will increase to 900 million pieces of mail, for that day alone.
The downtown post office meets their share of that challenge by hiring extra workers for key areas, and working longer hours. As the mail enters the post office it is conveyed and sorted to different parts of the facility. Most of the mail goes through an automated bar coding system that sends the letters to the proper carrier station.
Lori Thomas, Customer Relations Coordinator, explained that postal carriers used to spend about four hours sorting their mail and then another four hours on their routes. Due to automation, the carriers now spend about two hours sorting and six hours carrying. This change in procedure makes the carriers jobs even more physically demanding then they were in the past.
The U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars from the federal government for their operations. They are a self-supporting agency, using the revenue from the sales of postage and postage-related products to pay expenses.
Although they have no official motto, the U.S.P.S. lives up to the unofficial motto of “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor gloom of night, stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” You may want to remember these men and women of the Postal Service during this holiday season.
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