DSC_5679That’s the label on just about the only mailbox in South Dakota that gets collected at 8 pm, This one’s in Huron. Behind it sits a massive and mostly empty former mail sorting center that used to speedily sort all the mail headed in and out of east central South Dakota. Today all the mail dropped in this box and for a hundred miles or so around gets trucked to Sioux Falls, a couple hundred miles away, for sorting. And while the box gets pulled at 8, I suspect the last mail truck of the day to Sioux Falls left hours before.

In compliance with federal law I duly deposited by properly stamped tax return into this box before the promised 8 pm collect time, and 2 hours later I doubt the Postal Service has moved it more than a hundred yards to the loading dock to await tomorrow’s truck to Sioux Falls. I’m not a tax protester, I’m happy to pay my taxes. But I do this as a protest against what Postal Service management has done to hobble what was once the world’s greatest postal service. I’ve been doing this remote post office mailing on tax day routine for a couple years now and my tax payment checks never get cashed until May at least. How the hell can a private business survive with that slow a cash flow?

Didn’t used to be that way… Before we had computers and cell phones we had a vast railroad network with at least daily passenger service on every track that stopped at most every town. If they didn’t stop, they literally caught the mail on the fly and threw bags of mail out the door as they passed the station. Every passenger train had a Railway Post Office (RPO) car, and post offices they were- Literally sorting mail on the fly as the train flew through the night. And every RPO car had a slot for deposit of mail.

Half a century ago you could walk over to the station, drop your tax return in the slot on the RPO car of even the day’s last train, and know that your tax return and check would hundreds of miles towards it’s destination and often delivered the next afternoon. And they call the gutting of our Postal Service and passenger trains “progress”?

 

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