The USPS has terrible service, but I still support them. They never pick up my packages when I request them, they process my international orders a month late, and they say that packages are delivered even though they're still sitting in the truck. But I still support them because the reason they suck so much is because we don't give them the resources they need despite how important their service is. For some people, it's the only way to communicate with people in incarceration, it's how people vote, it's how some people stay in contact with family and friends, especially those who are older and live miles away from the nearest neighbor. It costs 50 cents to send a birthday card via USPS to someone in a rural area in America. The cheapest way via a private delivery service is $15.50. And despite how much the USPS fuckin' sucks, they ALWAYS manage to get my letters and packages from my hands to my friends and customers' homes and offices.
The USPS is in trouble right now for several reasons. One of their problems is being withheld a bailout from the federal government. Another is one is that the people working for them are dying from COVID-19. Like many people these past few weeks, I bought stamps online to support the US Postal Service (the "Little Mo" Forever Stamps), but also because I needed stamps. I've been sending letters regularly since I was a teenager.
Life sucked for me for the longest time...from around childhood until I was in my mid 20s. I was constantly living in one of several combinations of being broke, not talking to anyone in my family, working long hours for shit pay flipping burgers and washing dishes, and sleeping on a camping cot in a studio apartment with cracks in the floorboard that let you see through to the outside (sometimes I thought I would die in the winters). But I still managed to write zines, go to shows, take photos, make t-shirts, and record music. The only reason I did it was because I knew that people cared. People would write letters and email me and send me money just to get something I made.
I got three letters from Amanda throughout the years, always enclosed with photographs and cash to buy a zine. This is the last one she sent me. It came with $20 for my latest zine at the time. I think about this letter often because after reading her letter for the first time, I couldn't help but relate to her. I knew what it was like to work a shitty job and deal with shitty people and stare at my feet as I walked the sidewalks feeling sorry for myself. And it was so moving to know that she found $20 on the ground and bought one of my zines instead of keeping it for something else. If I were her back then, I would've used it for the burrito or to get drunk.
I would wake up and live my day hating my life for most days until I would check my mailbox and get a letter like this. It reminded me that someone cared. The fact that it was a stranger in some small hamlet on Long Island who I had never met before made it so much more important to me. The only thing we knew about each other came from inanimate words on a piece of paper and those words were important enough to prompt her to put a $20 bill in an envelope and send it to me. Those words on a page were strong to help me forget how much I hated life and to write a response back, put a zine in an envelope, put some stamps on it, and ride my bike out to the nearest blue USPS box and drop it off.
For the past month I've been spending most of my days at home due to the quarantine. Luckily, Saigon Drugs is doing good enough for me to pay the bills and buy groceries and markers. When I'm not checking reports and orders and responding to your emails, I'm writing letters to my friends who are in the same shelter-in-place situation as I am. Sometimes they're as close as Venice Beach and sometimes they're as far away as Brooklyn. I check the mail every day and when I get a letter back from someone, I get the exact same feeling as I did 10 years ago and I momentarily forget how much I hate my fuckin life.
Go buy some stamps and write letters to your friends.