Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The mail takes a strange route

by By Larry Wilson
| April 19, 2023 2:00 AM

Seventy degrees Fahrenheit one day and then 40ºF the next accompanied by freezing or near freezing nights. Normal spring weather that makes us yearn for summer. We watch the snow recede (so slowly), pray for the first robin and keep an eye on the ungulates as they turn from shaggy gray to a sleek reddish color. I also watch for bears – especially with cubs and fawns of any kind. Yep. Normal spring weather.

Also part of a normal spring is the matter of nasty roads. This is for sure the pothole reproductive season and every vehicle makes them deeper and bigger, but I was told today (April 14th) that the Camas Road is now open. I dont know if the gates are manned or if reservations are needed yet. Manning the gates and the “reservation” checkers takes so many people and must cost so much that there are probably shortages of folks who actually do the work. Nevermind housing for all these folks.

When I think about any kind of inefficient government I can’t help but think of the U.S. Postal Service. I went in a week or so ago to buy stamps and was shocked to find a first class stamp was 64 cents and a penny postcard was 48 cents. Just a few days later I saw on the news that stamps will go up to 66 cents soon. The fourth increase in just a few years. I have not seen an increase in efficiency, just the opposite. The Postal Service expects the same number of dedicated employees to handle double the workload. If I forward my mail from Columbia Falls to the North Fork, local employees could just put it in the North Fork mail like they used to at practically no cost.

No, now they send it to Missoula where they put a little yellow sticker on it and then send it back to Columbia Falls. Guess what?

Then they put it in the North Fork bag. No doubt this all costs money from the little yellow sticker to transportation costs as well as hourly employees. Government inefficiency has become normal.

Final normal activity for this week. Old folks continue to pass over the Great Divide. The latest North Forker to pass on was Bob Olson at the Columbia Falls Veterans Home. Bob was the last postal employee postmaster at Polebridge. After Bob the Post Office was run by a contract employee until it was closed during the Kauffman’s tenure.

Bob was a man with a big smile and often argumentative opinions. He was well into his 90s but still sharp of mind and opinion when I last talked to him last October. Rest in peace.