The United States Postal Service is hemorrhaging money. It's looking at a cumulative $238 billion shortfall by 2020. To adapt, it's shrinking staff and closing offices. Montana offices on the chopping block include some in Butte, Helena, Havre, and Miles City.
We didn't have to look far to find evidence of the postal service being stretched too thin. One Indy staffer is still waiting on four boxes of books he mailed from St. Louis to Missoula two months ago. Where did they go? Is there a stockpile of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Philip Roth somewhere in South Dakota?
We're not the only ones looking for lost stuff. Word is, the USPS specializes in shipping cremains. But just last week we spotted a sad little news report about an Ohioan named Stanley Miller, Jr. According to his mother, Miller was an avid outdoorsman who always wanted to hunt in Montana. When he died of a heart attack at 62, his family decided he should finally make the trip. They had him cremated, packed up, and shipped out on April 26 to Hot Springs. An Ohio news station reports the cremains were last spotted leaving Cleveland on April 27. By May 6, Miller's remains had vanished.
Miller might have company. The ashes of a woman shipped from Wisconsin to Hawaii never made it to her own service last month. Despite her absence, a Madison news station reports that the woman's family still held a memorial for her on a catamaran in the Pacific Ocean.
Did somebody at USPS open the urns and sneeze?
It's clear that email, text messaging, and instant chat are changing our entire communications landscape. The lumbering 235-year-old postal service now stands as a relic of a former time. We hate to say it, USPS, but we can't remember the last time you actually brought us something we wanted. Most of the stuff that shows up in our mailbox—power bills, pleas for donations, and slick postcards that advertise better TV, smarter phones, and faster Internet—gets tossed faster than you can say, "Dude, where's our package?"
Don't get us wrong, we love postal workers, especially our mailman. He lugs big bags in bad weather and deals with mean dogs. Rather than wielding pepper spray he carries puppy treats.
But despite his efforts and those of others like him, the USPS is feeling more and more like an expensive T-Rex limping toward a date with a comet.