Praise for The U.S. Postal Service. And Netflix.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Derived from a quote from Herodotus’ Histories (8.98), that phrase is inscribed on the James A. Farley Post Office building, the main post office building in New York City. The building is a McKim, Mead & White masterpiece and a totem to another time.

I live in rural Georgia. You may have heard we had an unusual snow storm here in the South this week. Georgia is home to U.P.S. We are waiting for them to deliver a Christmas package. Every day the tracking reports “weather delays.”

Understandable?

Maybe.

We had two snow days. Housebound, we wondered would our Netflix delivery make it through. We’re on the 1 DVD out at-a-time Netflix plan. Through the storm they have continued delivery, unabated and un-delayed. I put a DVD in the mail Sunday; they received it Monday; I got the new one Tuesday. I put the return DVD in the mail yesterday; they got it today; I’ll have my new one tomorrow.

UPS update this morning? “Weather delays.” [Update: "Out for delivery today."]

FedEx doesn’t even bother competing in our town. Recently when we were sent a package via FedEx, they left a voice message saying they couldn’t find our house. We suggested they try Google Maps. Our house and driveway are pictured in Street View. It turned out they had the package on the wrong truck. Something about a sticker error.

I’ve always been a fan of the U.S. Postal Service. I can match complaints about their service one-for-one with complaints about the private enterprise people. The postman puts our packages on our porch or under the eaves; UPS leaves the truck parked on the street, runs up the hill and lets the package on the step out in the rain. Our postman waves, the UPS man grunts.

Sadly, mine is apparently a minority opinion.

The U.S. Postal Service is fast approaching bankruptcy. I don’t expect the Congress to bail them out. Or data gathering sensors to save them. Privatization of public services has never worked out for me. I’d rather see subsidized broadband but that one will never happen. Polls like this one will provide cover for reduced services and a continuing spiral down.

I don’t know why Netflix chose the U.S. Postal Service to deliver its movies. But I’m glad they did.

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