By Songyi Zhang

When I first came to America, the small white U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery van caught my attention. Its steering wheel is on the right like the vehicles in Britain. At the time I was learning to drive in Pittsburgh, I thought to myself that the cute little delivery van is my dream car.

However, I’m afraid the white mail delivery vans won’t be on the street often in the future. Recently, I read the news about the closing of half of the USPS processing facilities around the country. As a result, the first-class mail delivery will slow, forcing many stamped letters to arrive in two days rather than one. Another source also said that the USPS plans to cancel mail delivery on Saturdays. All these changes aim to trim costs and avert bankruptcy.

It’s unheard of that a national postal service would go bankrupt. At least it can’t happen in China where postal service is state-owned. However, the USPS is an independent branch of the federal government. It competes in delivery service with private corporations like UPS and FedEx. The agency has to face the financial problems that every enterprise deals with. Good service relies on good profits.

Although individuals now prefer the convenience of email and online bill-paying, after people shop online, they’ll need package delivery. In China, we’ve seen increased shipping by China Postal Service because of online shopping. I hope the USPS will survive in this competition with other private package delivery services.    

What disappoints me is that as the USPS keeps losing money, ordinary people are the ultimate victims. Poor people cannot afford expensive express mail postage, and now they may have to wait two days for their regular mail being delivered. What’s the meaning of “first-class mail” if the mails won’t be treated first class?

I thought postal service is as crucial as medical system and utility services to our everyday life. The USPS is one of the biggest employers in the country. If the agency cuts expenses, more people will lose jobs, too. The high national unemployment rate will continue.    

I can only picture the USPS business falling into a bad cycle: poor service leads to fewer customers, and the agency will lose more money. I feel bad that the anger of ordinary people towards governments increases. Although the USPS doesn’t receive any tax dollars from the government, it is still under congressional control. Can the Congress do something to help the USPS stay alive?  


Filed under: Prose, Songyi Zhang's America