In 1959, my brother sent a birthday card to me. I was born on his ninth birthday and he probably wanted a choo-choo train — not a squalling baby brother! In 1960, I sent it back to him. I’m 80 now, he is 89, and that card has gone back and forth for 61 years. Each year we put a note of something significant that has happened — this year it came to me and he had written “My year to become a great-grandfather: (to twins).

In 1964, I went to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) with the Peace Corps and was stationed in quite remote areas — livestock veterinarians don’t live in cities. The card came through to those out-of-the-way places. In Sumbawanga my address was P.O. Box 2, which indicates the size of the town. Barbara and I continued working in East Africa for another 16 years, some in a very remote small town across the Serengeti in North Masailand — the card was delivered. I worked several years in Cairo and in Nairobi — the card arrived. And now back in the U.S., what happened to the card? It came through, of course, just a few days ago, for the 61st time.

That birthday card has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, crossing over the oceans at least 20 times and another 40 times between various places in the U.S. — and it has never been lost. I find this astounding. And it speaks loudly to the efficiency and dedication of postal workers around the world.

I think we, here in Pendleton and throughout Eastern Oregon, have the best post offices in the United States. I actually like to go to the post office. The people manning — no, womanning — the front desk are good natured, pleasant, efficient, and work with the customer to make sure you get the best price for sending your package. They are a quintessential model of what the United States Postal Service (USPS) means — it is a service, not a for-profit business, and they behave like the original image of the Pony Express: ”The Mail Must Go Through!”

Have you considered what it takes for something you send in the USPS to get from where you send it to the destination address you put on that envelope or package? If it is to an address in the U.S. it’s quite straightforward — ZIP codes are magic. But when the letter is traveling internationally, especially to developing nations, that’s an entirely different situation, beginning with the mode of transport over oceans to the recipient nation (how do they get paid for their services when we buy the stamps here?), and then through the sorting and transport to the addressed person (me) in some outback village.

When you go into our post office here in P-town, Salvie and Linda and Lu and Barbara and Carolyn, and occasionally Damon, will be right there to help you get your letter or parcel to wherever it goes. Kudos to them! And behind them in the guts of the building are all those other people, about 30 of them, packing the outgoing mail, sorting the incoming mail, and loading it into the carrier vehicles to be brought to your mailbox or door. Kudos to them as well!

We live on a rural route. Our carrier is Pam, a very happy, pleasant, and helpful person. She delivers to our mailbox and, if a package, brings it to our house. In the cold and the rain and snow her car window is open for hours each day as she puts mail into the hundreds of boxes along her extended, circuitous route and frankly, I worry about her health. But she carries on in good form and does the job — The Mail Must Go Through! — and it does, by Pam and a whole bunch of other carriers.

Additionally, the situation is the same for FedEx and UPS people — all making sure that you get your package as quickly as possible, regardless of the weather or driving or other delivery conditions.

I think we all owe a debt of gratitude, especially during the Christmas holiday season when there are so many parcels to be delivered, to our postal workers and other delivery workers, from the managers to the carriers and everybody in between. It is a long line of dedicated people who make life a lot easier and happier for customers and recipients. More power to all of them for their service.


Dr. Andrew Clark is a livestock veterinarian with both domestic and international work experience who lives in Pendleton.

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