USPS employees aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when we mention “law enforcer” or “adventurer” or “domestic dog wrangler”. Which is a pity, because they are often all three of those things at the same time.
The postal service is one of this country’s oldest and most storied professions. In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down 9 little-known USPS facts for your reading pleasure.
The First Post Office Was A Bar
We’re going to start today’s list off with a good old fashioned softball-sized tidbit of information. In 1639, the country’s first post office was established. And they established it right in the middle of a bar in Boston.
One City In The US Still Has Mail Delivered By Mule
This might sound a little old fashioned and more than a little out of the ordinary, but the village of Supai in Arizona still gets their mail by mule. And there’s a straightforward reason for it: they’re located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The local Havasupai tribe receives its regular deliveries in this way, using a fleet of 50 horses and mules that cover the 8-mile trek.
Dogs Really Do Hate Them
There are some things that are just too comical to be true. Actually being able to slip on a banana peel. Curing amnesia with a second bump on the head. And mailmen getting bitten right on the behind by errant and wayward dogs.
Only, you guessed it from the title of this section, mailmen actually get bitten by dogs at the houses they visit. A lot. 2016 USPS data shows that over 6,200 postal employees were attacked by dogs across the country.
Maybe it’s the bright colors, shirt buttons, and mailbag. Maybe it’s just a case of stranger danger. Whatever the case, dogs are no friend to the modern mailman, and nobody can quite agree on why.
They Have No Official Motto
A common misconception is that the U.S. postal service’s official motto is the same common saying we associate with them. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Those words are simply engraved on the front of the New York City 1912 James A. Farley Post Office. They were taken from a book but actually refer to the ancient Persian Empire’s messengers.
They Have A “Bad Handwriting” Department
Have you ever put the name and address on the front of a letter, looked at your own handwriting, and thought, “There’s no way this gets there”? Not to worry—there are actually experts at the post office whose entire job is to decrypt your horrible handwriting.
Specifically, the Remote Encoding Center in Salt Lake City handles a lot of this kind of case. And, from what we’re told, they’ve gotten pretty good at it. Receiving every piece of hard-to-read mail that automated mail sorters can’t sort—this is where the postal rubber meets the postal road.
Eagle-eyed employees work around the clock to make sure scribbles and splotches on important mail get treated like names and addresses. And their average time to decode this writing? Roughly four seconds.
In terms of USPS innovations, that’s them at their most efficient, by far!
They Help To Track Down Criminals
Working for the postal service means more than just delivering the mail and fighting crazed dogs every day. Post office workers have been useful to the police by helping to find criminals, investigating crimes, and gathering evidence.
Several large criminal cases have actually been solved because of input from trusty postal service workers. They’ve seized narcotics and helped to identify criminals based on fingerprints and DNA.
Mail Thieves Were Once Sentenced To Death
There was a time when the U.S. mail system was the only method available for sending money and various sensitive documents. So, as much as it seems a little severe, the truth is a death sentence was often completely appropriate. After all, this was the backbone of the country’s communications network, and people were depending on what was being sent.
It also wasn’t long before congress reconsidered, downgrading in 1799 to whipping for first offenders. A prison sentence of up to 10 years was applied to repeat offenders and second offenders were, well, still subject to death.
Of course, they wouldn’t have had to worry about executing mail thieves in the street if they’d just followed this simple process.
The Postmaster General Earns A Lot
The position of Postmaster General is the second-highest-paid federal employee in the country. Where the President earns somewhere in the region of $400,000, the Postmaster General earns a not-to-be-scoffed at $285,240, annually.
The current officeholder, Megan Brennan, is also the first woman in the history of the country to hold the job. In the grand tradition of this position, she out-earns the current U.S. vice president, who makes $243,500.
For overseeing the operations of the country’s post offices, the stress alone may justify the money, but 275k can help with a lot of pain and suffering.
They Deliver More Than 200 Billion Pieces of Mail Annually