I recently ordered a book from Thriftbooks.com in Dallas. The package was shipped at 3:20 pm on March 17 and for some super-secret reason was flown to Austell, Georgia where it arrived at 11:38 am on March 19. Thirteen hours later, it arrived in Glendale Heights, Illinois where it took a nap before heading over to Elk Grove Village, Illinois, reaching there after a few hours. About 6 am on March 21 it was on its way to Indianapolis where my book landed at 11:29 am on the same day. March 22 it started off for Fort Wayne, got tired, booked a hotel room, swam in the pool, dined at several good restaurants, and saw the sites. After logging about 125 miles for the two-hour trip in a staggering three days, my book arrived safely only to be smashed into the mailbox.
I like to compare stories like this to an incident Maureen and I found while working on my family history. Back before World War One, a pension check was mailed from the Treasury Department in Washington, DC to a recipient in DeKalb County, Indiana. Dispatched in a mail bag which was sorted by a clerk on a Post Office rail car, the check sped westward on an express train. Once in DeKalb County, the check, now inside a smaller mail bag, was hung outside and transferred to a hook as it passed by the local station. Taken to the local post office, the check was delivered to its recipient. Total elapsed time—eleven hours!! Skeptics might question the timing, but in those days letters from the Treasury were postmarked not only with the day but also the time they were sent.
The moral of this story is that the old Post Office knew the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. The current Postal Service seems to think that customers get better service by transporting their mail back and forth between points A and B across half of the country. Skeptics again might argue that it is not fair to compare a package to a letter. I would advise them to read a previous post referring to a Christmas card that took thirty-four days to arrive at our house after an exhausting journey of 9.4 miles.