Do what you do best

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor gloom of night will keep a postman from his appointed rounds. That is the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service and is one that has impressed me since childhood.

When you’re young, it is fun to anticipate the arrival of mail, hoping someone has sent you something to read or play with. I remember eagerly waiting to receive a set of plastic cars that had required me to eat ten boxes of cereal and send in the box tops. Or the time I received two boxes of spice drops as a prize for entering a contest. The excitement of the wait and then to see the postman deliver the package is a favorite childhood memory for many.

Unfortunately, as you grow older all the postman seems to deliver are bills and junk mail. You no longer are so eager to see him; you may even get anxious. However, the fact I no longer receive toys and candy in the mail has not diminished one bit of my respect for the hard work of the postal carrier.

The winter weather in the Midwest and much of the nation this year has been brutal with extreme cold, tons of snow, blowing winds and hazardous travel conditions. Yet every day, despite the brutal weather, my mailbox was filled. My postal carrier walked through the cold and snow to deliver to me what others had sent. Sometimes he would finish his route after the sun had set. That is dedication, that is doing your job above and beyond and that is why the unofficial postal service motto is both true and honorable.

We all know over the years the problems the postal service has faced with their budget and the fact that they lose money. That problem was not created by postal carriers or the thousands of employees, who sort the mail, sell stamps and accept packages for delivery. I blame the system, the federal government and Congress. Poor management and the failure to make tough decisions have caused the problems and deficit to escalate. When good ideas like the consolidation of post offices and stopping Saturday delivery were floated, they were shot down because no one wanted their post office closed or to wait an extra day for their mail. It was politics at its best.

But alas, a new idea to bolster the postal system and reduce the deficit arose – make post offices financial centers where people can cash checks, purchase money orders, transmit money and maybe open postal savings accounts. Google the last one and all you youngsters will see that once was a reality.

In this great country we are fortunate to have credit unions, banks, check cashers, money transmitters and numerous other businesses that provide financial services. They are all competitive, most make a profit and all employ people.

So along comes the great federal government idea to create postal financial centers compete with private industry and potentially cause some of them to close and put gainfully employed people out of work. The architect of this suggestion deserves some type of award.

Whenever I am able, I like to use the quote of President Ronald Reagan who said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The best advice one can give if you do hear those words is, “run like hell.”

Michael Jordan, who many say is the best player who ever played the game of basketball, once tried to be a major league baseball player. Fortunately for the game of basketball and the Chicago Bulls someone told him “do what you do best.” And he listened.

Michael Fryzel

Michael Fryzel

Michael Fryzel is the former Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and is now a financial services consultant and government affairs attorney in Chicago. He can be reached at ... Details