Apparently there is still a day when the post office is relevant – to a lot of people. And that day is Dec. 16.
For this is projected to be the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service, which expects to handle more than 607 million pieces of mail in this 24-hour span. Just as the day before Thanksgiving clogs airports all over the country, post offices around America are dealing with the onslaught of Christmas cards and packages prepped and shipped with just enough time to arrive at their destinations before the holidays officially hit.
The busiest day for holiday cards and letters is projected to be Wednesday, Dec. 18, with the busiest day for packages pegged at Thursday, Dec. 19. Overall, the Postal Service projects that it will deliver 14.7 billion cards and letters, and 420 million packages, this holiday season.
Yeah, but all of them will be late, right?
Well, while like your local Department of Motor Vehicles, the post office seems designed to frustrate first and serve second, in the interests of fair play the Postal Service offers up a bit of perspective on its own many services:
• The post office handles 160 billion pieces of mail a year, or 40 percent of the entire world's mail.
• If it were a private company, the post office would rank 42nd on the Fortune 500 for 2012.
• For you government watchdogs out there: the Postal Service gets no tax money, and is required to cover its own costs by the sale of stamps and other products.
Certainly, the Postal Service has its critics. But as Time's Steve Freiss notes, "This downturn in the USPS’s fortunes is seized upon by conservatives eager to sell it for parts and who attack it as another bailout-needing Big Government program that the private sector can manage better. Yet who would move my letter that far that fast and that accurately for that little? The start-up costs alone would be stratospheric. The variety of new products they provide—the if-it-fits-it-ships concept, 24-hour automated kiosks and home stamp printing to cite a few I’ve used in the past month —show they still have good ideas."