Essential Messengers

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I came across this article by Stephen Meyers about his work as a U.S.P.S mail carrier and I was transported back to the summers I passed on my grandmother’s porch when she would tell my sister and I stories about her varied life and her many jobs. Like Meyers, one of those jobs was as a U.S.P.S carrier.

By the time my grandmother started working for the U.S.P.S., in about the 1940s, she had already had many jobs. As a child in southern California, she worked in her aunts’ tailor shop sewing hems and buttons but was also responsible for housekeeping and and making the daily tortillas. During prohibition, she and her mother ran a speakeasy. Later, she worked on the docks packing frozen tuna into cans until her fingers, too, were frozen. At least once, she slaughtered, plucked, and gutted a goose in her job as a house maid. Years later, when she told my sister and I of these jobs, she laughed and her eyes sparkled, the sting of poor working conditions and low wages dulled by the passage of time.

But time did nothing to dull her memories of working for the U.S.P.S. When she told of her job delivering mail, she did not laugh. She described it as the toughest of any of her jobs. She began working with brand new shoes, a rare luxury in her case, but after after several weeks walking through neighborhood after neighborhood, she not only had blisters but had worn holes into the bottoms of her new shoes. She lined them with cardboard. When it rained, the cardboard did nothing to keep out the water. The summer heat was worse. She remembered the constant thirst. At that time, carriers could not carry drinking water because the heavy bags required both hands, and even if you could physically manage it, water could spill and ruin the mail.

Despite all that is going on right now, my U.S.P.S. mail carrier continues to arrive every day delivering consistency, routine and normalcy. I am grateful for all of the people working essential jobs, often unseen and unsung. Thank you. If you are providing an essential service during this shelter-in-place emergency and you are concerned about protecting yourself and your family, I can help. I have discounted my estate plans for essential service providers during this emergency. If you have a very simple estate, ask about your free and low cost options. 

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