By Guy Page
The unofficial motto of the United States Post Office was swiped from the Greek historian Herodotus, who 2500 years ago wrote of the Persian army mailmen:
“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Herodotus, known as the father of historians (by those who don’t concede the historicity of the Hebrew Bible), was an admirer of the mailmen for the other side of the Greek-Persian wars. The catchy phrase was engraved on the New York City Post Office building in 1897.
But as noted, it’s an UNOFFICIAL motto. An aspiration, not a promise. And Herodotus said nothing about floods.
Which brings us to the Montpelier Post Office, flooded out along with most of the rest of State Street on July 10-11. Somehow, the USPS failed to protect post office box mail on that watery Monday and Tuesday. According to in-person and media reports, the flooding surprised the USPS so much that workers were unable to rescue the mail.
I don’t understand this. The rest of Vermont knew many days earlier the heavy rains and flooding were expected, and took steps accordingly. But somehow, letters in the first-floor post office boxes (and elsewhere) were left there as the flood waters crept towards the building, entered the lobby, and rose waist-high.
As a result, thousands of letters are now irretrievable mush. The post office will no doubt try to separate and clean up the mail. But many, many letters will never be delivered.
Which brings me to this discouraging, self-serving announcement: if you sent the Vermont Daily Chronicle a voluntary subscription check or an advertising payment the weekend before the flood, and it hasn’t been cashed yet, chances are, it never will be. It’s probably mouldering somewhere, indistinguishable from a credit card solicitation.
In the Grand Scheme of Things, a few lost checks are no big deal. In fact I feel a little guilty even raising the issue when some of my neighbors have lost their homes. On the other hand, you’d probably wonder sooner or later what had happened to your check. And, VDC continues operation only with your support.
The good news is that the USPS is now distributing mail from mobile units high on College Street at the College of Fine Arts. Checks can be safely sent to Vermont Daily Chronicle, P.O. Box 1547, Montpelier, VT 05641.
Categories: Letter from the Publisher