About the Canadian Postal Service ...

Those of you who are whining and whinging about the USPS need to take a chill pill and then take a hike up north.

The USPS does vary in quality depending on city and state. From personal experience, San Diego's postal service is actually pretty good, and so is Minneapolis-St. Paul. New York City varies depending on which part, Chicago is pretty bad.

Now, I've dealt with my share of jerks and nasty people at the USPS - just like other overworked people at places like the DMV.

HOWEVER -- the difference is that I've spent some time in Canada, and Canada Post shows dramatically what a good deal American taxpayers get with their postal system. Try sending a letter from one part of Toronto to another; or worse, sending it across the country to Montreal or Vancouver. It will generally take at least two weeks. Canadians realize they cannot depend on CanadaPost, so businesses rely much more on receiving faxes and to a lesser extent, email.

I am a diehard communicator. I love writing email, but I love receiving and writing regular mail even more. My friends and family know they can depend on getting lots of postcards and letters. In the seven months I spent in Canada, mostly living in Toronto, I would get letters *from* the United States very quickly, usually under a week from when they had been posted. The letters I sent home from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver would take at MINIMUM two weeks to reach my father in Detroit, which is right across the Canadian border. (And FYI: four hours' drive from Toronto -- yet there seemed to be no difference where I sent my letters from, they would take ages!) They would take even longer to reach my friends and family in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. (I got more than one note from friends who said, "I just got your letter - I was wondering what had happened to you!")

Furthermore, in the fall of 1997, CanadaPost went on strike for an inordinate amount of time. It was dreadful if you needed to get anything to friends in Canada, or out from Canada. You had to resort to Federal Express and UPS shipping stuff everywhere, which was EXPENSIVE... and guess what? Because it's a foreign country (technically), you can't depend on it getting there that much faster (Thank you, customs!). Furthermore, can you remember the last time postal workers in the U.S. went on strike? I can't.

CanadaPost is not the only one that's kind of crummy. I hear that Italy's is probably the worst...and I would bet we have better service than many other countries in Europe, proportional to area.

So, as I said, take a chill pill and reconsider your experiences with the USPS. If our peaceloving neighbors can't get it quite right (and believe me, they REALLY hate their post office in Canada), maybe we're taking this a bit too seriously.

April 06, 1999 
P. Wieland

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