I posted last week about my fascination with getting the mail everyday. It is, I think, amazing that I can put a letter outside my front door and expect – without asking – someone to pick it up and drive it down to San Diego within a few days. Not everyone lives in a major city, though, so my amazement grows when I hear about mail delivery in areas that are…a bit harder to get to. Like the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Strapped to the wet and trembling backs of his animals was the precious cargo that had gotten Charlie into this tight spot-not rifles nor furs nor gold bullion. The mules were carrying a few dozen plastic bins marked “United States Postal Service.” For 25 years, Charlie, one of the 34 USPS contractors known as “packers,” has delivered mail this way, to the Havasupai tribe here at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Most of the other packers are tribe members who live in a village with no paved roads, no streetlights, and frequent power outages, home to 450 Native Americans living in the most remote human settlement in the lower 48 states. It is a day’s journey away from the nearest supermarket, but since 1896, the village, Supai, has had its own post office. And today, just as it was 100 years ago, the most efficient machine for moving cargo down treacherous, boulder-strewn terrain is the mule (from You’ve Got Mail, Good Magazine)
How incredible is that? The same 44 cents that I can pay to have a letter delivered to my friend in Orange County will take a letter by mule to a remote village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The same articles continues on with a list of other methods of mail delivery:
Some rural Alaskans get their mail carried overland by snowmobile or dropped from a seaplane. In the Florida Everglades, the mail arrives on a boat propelled by outboard motor. In Philadelphia and other big cities, much of the mail is sorted by robots, giant claws that seize a tray of mail, scan the barcode, and shuttle it with terrifying speed to any one of 12 bins to await distribution. No peacetime organization in the world deploys such a wide range of technologies to accomplish a single job.
Is this some kind of modern miracle that through monotony has become mundane?
If letters are being delivered by foot, truck, plane, mules, snowmobiles, and robots every day all around us, and we never think about it…
…what else are we missing?
What other miracles or marvels happen without us noticing?