In February, we were still getting Christmas cards. In March, we started to get magazines. And in April, I'm actually seeing mail with postmarks less than a week old.
The US Postal Service took a beating in Hurricane Katrina just like the rest of us in New Orleans. And like us, they've struggled to get back to that elusive place we call "normal." A recent story in The Times-Picayune heralds the reopening of the local mail processing center. Count this as an important mile marker on the road to recovery.
For months, we had to go to a central station to pick up the mail. I blogged about that experience in November of last year. Back then, we were finding mail in the box at our apartment in the "sliver by the river" perhaps once a week. In January, it may have been two or more times a week. By mid February, we started seeing mail on a daily basis.
Old mail--typically out-of-date bills and special offers--but regular mail delivery nonetheless.
About a month ago, my wife received the special holiday issue of Family Fun magazine. The cover alerted us to the great holiday gift ideas inside. Better late than never, as they say, but what was important for us was that it signaled the return of magazines.
Soon after that, I received the November, December and January issues of one of my magazines all in one week.
The only thing we don't have at this point is junk mail. And I confess, I miss that, too. I liked that there were people who wanted me to have 10 DVDs for a penny. I liked knowing that Quality Paperback Book Club wanted me to have 6 books for a dollar, with no long-term obligation. And I'm worried that Publishers Clearinghouse may be trying to find me with a guaranteed winning number, but my future fortune is going unclaimed because the Post Office has a petty grudge against Bulk Rate mail.
In the ghost town of Vista Park, the neighborhood where we used to live, the Post Office has told us that house-to-house delivery will not return for a while. As people return to live in travel trailers or a few in actual houses, USPS is setting up community mail boxes in every block.
This is a temporary situation, we are told, but many of my neighbors take a more cynical view. They know that newer subdivisions everywhere in the country either have community boxes like these, or they have mailboxes at the curb. Letter Carriers who walk a route are going the way of newspaper boys on bicycles and milkmen leaving bottles on the doorstep.
Progress can be good or bad, it seems. But in New Orleans, I find all progress encouraging.