The post-pandemic world could be one without the U.S. Postal Service, whose political and financial struggles have been well-documented. The USPS is currently $160 billion in debt, and though the service is in need of a federal bailout, it’s facing hurdles getting support.
The uncertainty of this institution (whose foundations date back to 1775, when Benjamin Franklin took post as the country’s first postmaster general) adds to the volatility of the coronavirus era. But mail keeps coming, and that means someone out there continues to deliver it.
For the last few months, USPS City Courier Renan Tavera’s route has been nearly deserted. “The mail is lighter compared to before,” Tavera, who mostly delivers to businesses, told the Downtown Alliance. “There aren’t many people around. Everything is closed.” Still, his daily routine is pretty much the same, except for a few changes. Tavera wipes down his truck every morning (“They gave us supplies to sanitize the truck”) and he always wears a mask.
Some things have proven more difficult for Tavera — chiefly, his commute. Before the pandemic, he took the express bus to Lower Manhattan from Staten Island, where he lives. But the bus no longer feels safe, so Tavera drives to Brooklyn and takes the subway the rest of the way. “I tried to drive all the way to the city, but it’s impossible to find parking over there,” he said. Luckily, his workday starts early. “The subway cars are pretty empty,” he said.
For now, Tavera said, the best way to support the postal service is to wear masks to protect postal workers, and, most of all, to keep using the mail. “Order more stuff, send to your loved ones,” he said.