To Greenville and back via post office — twice


Not long ago I received a lovely and rather unique card from a local fan (thank you, Carole). It was sent to the paper’s office, and after confirming my mailing address, staff kindly slipped it into a larger envelope and sent it on to me. When I noticed the postmark on the original envelope, I saw the card had taken a shortcut through Greenville, South Carolina, covering about 150 miles to travel two miles. It’s safe to say that the card traveled another 150 miles to Greenville and back after it was mailed to my house from the office, which is opposite the post office.

Think about this, friends. The card, which is now affixed to my refrigerator door with magnets, traveled 300 miles for about a third the price of a cup of Starbuck’s coffee. Where else can you get so much for your travel dollar?

I’m not making fun of the post office. I’m a big fan, as was Ben Franklin, who was the first Postmaster General under the Continental Congress. The post office is even mentioned in the Constitution, which Franklin lived to see — Article I, Section 8, to be precise: “The Congress shall have Power … To establish Post Offices and post Roads…” (although nowhere does it say Congress has the power to unestablish them).

However, the reporter in me (an ancient, recessive gene) was determined to find out why the card had to make a side trip to South Carolina on the way from Point A in Black Mountain to Point B in Black Mountain — twice. So I stopped by the post office on Richardson Boulevard to inquire.

“Mail dropped in any mailbox or the box in the lobby goes to Greenville to be sorted,” I was told, but if you want your local mail to skip the trip, you can hand it to a clerk at the counter and they’ll set it aside and make sure it’s placed in the correct box or the right carrier gets it for delivery the next day.

A single piece of first-class mail with one 49-cent stamp weighs an ounce or less, so I don’t believe the truck that transported the card to Greenville and back — twice — was overly burdened. I have a hunch that the weight of this card didn’t noticeably affect said truck’s gas mileage either, nor slow it down coming up the I-26 grade — twice.

Despite its travels, the card was none the worse for wear when I received it — and I wound up with this chance to thank Carole publicly.