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Why I'm 'Postal' Over the Prospect of No Saturday Delivery

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BETTMANN/CORBIS

The good old days

This time, the Postal Service may have gone too far.

Citing ballooning costs and slowing business, the USPS board is considering a truly dire cost-cutting measure: The elimination of Saturday mail delivery.

That's right — try to imagine no more mail on Saturday. Your five-year-old's much-anticipated birthday greetings don't arrive on Friday, and her birthday is on Saturday. Tough tiddlywinks. You'll wait until Monday and you'll like it. Waiting for a paycheck on Saturday? Sorry.

For the record, I am a loyal USPS customer. I stood by when they raised the price of stamps twice in three years, despite the fact that the rate increase inevitably occurs just days after I've purchased a new book of stamps, forcing me back to the post office to buy a whole string of those annoying one-cent stamps, which I invariably lose. I put up with it because I know that it's expensive delivering mail to 134 million homes, and as a consumer, I recognize that 34 cents is still a pretty good price.

Sure, we've had our disagreements, the mail service and I. Once, for example, I sidled up to the front desk at my local post office and loudly declared I wasn't leaving until I heard about concrete plans to revive the "Fat Elvis" stamp. And then there was that time I spent an hour and a half waiting in line to mail a certified letter, and when I finally got to a real live person, she informed me (with some sadistic glee, if I'm not mistaken) that I had filled out the wrong form and I'd have to start all over again at the back of the line.

We always got over our little tiffs, though, and found our way back to a mutually respectful relationship: I buy stamps at the machine in the post office lobby, doing my part to cut down on the lines. And my mail carrier delivers my mail — often getting it into my mailbox on the first try.

But it's quite possible that this latest news will push me over the edge. I know that e-mail has taken a lot of the Postal Service's business away, and I think that's rotten. If you ask me, that blinking e-mail icon is pretty cold comfort compared to the sight of an envelope stuffed fat with news and photographs. But that's progress, I guess. And I don't think anyoneĺs going to abandon e-mail anytime soon.

But back to the problem at hand: As I said, I love getting mail, and I learned long ago that in order to get mail, I had to send it. It sounds a bit pathetic, I know, but I look forward all day to opening my mailbox and pulling out the contents — bills, circulars, magazines, whatever. And when Sunday rolls around, it always feels like a non-day, because there's no mail. I know I'd get over the end of Saturday delivery eventually with the help of a skillful therapist, but I can't help but hope the USPS can find a way to avoid looming disaster.

In fact, I don't see too much problem with another price hike. I, for one, would be perfectly happy to spend 40 cents on a stamp — if it means I can count on six days of mail.