I live in rural Thurston County, about 7 miles north of Lacey. Maybe that is the reason that I so appreciate the various public employees who are regularly at my service. Sometimes these folks seem invisible, but they are vitally important.
About 18 months ago, I had a break-in. A deputy sheriff came out promptly to write up a report. But, of even more benefit to me, he took the time to talk me through the event (a break-in is traumatic), offer sympathy and suggestions about making my home more secure. Now that’s service!
I had been seeing our local fire and emergency vehicles periodically driving along our street. So, one day I asked, “What’s up?” It turns out that they drive streets learning addresses and the like so that they can respond quickly. They know me (or at least my address) even if I don’t know them.
It makes me feel secure, living out in the country, knowing that if I have an emergency these public service employees are prepared, not just in their training but in knowing their territory. And, I am able to purchase this security for only a few tax dollars per month.
But there is one public service I appreciate more than all the others. In fact, I think of it as a daily miracle. Six days per week someone drives out to my house and delivers my mail. Yes, my daily miracle is our own U.S. Postal Service. Really, where can you purchase service like this? For 49 cents my elderly aunt in Boston can contract with the postal service to deliver to me, in my rural location, a birthday card.
That’s right — 49 cents! What else, either goods or services, is available for that small price. Where else can you get this kind of bargain?
The postal service is just the kind of fantastic public service that we take for granted and even make jokes about. And, when I visit the actual post office, I hear people grumbling about lines and slow service. But, I can’t agree.
Our post offices are busy, with lines, because of how wonderful they are. All December they will be filled with people sending treasures to loved ones, and year-round, military families are there sending packages to deployed soldiers.
If you live in the city, there are other vital public services available to you. Your municipal utility delivers top-quality drinking water to your home, and carries away your wastewater for treatment and disposal. And, not only are these utilities providing services today, they are also planning for the future. Of course, you pay for this service, but, all in all, doesn’t it also seem like a bargain?
Sometimes it feels that we are in an era when government is under constant attack. With all the talk lately about “restoring greatness,” you would think our country is falling to pieces — that something is very wrong.
Well, that’s baloney. And the proof is that six days per week my mail is delivered to me, and all my rural neighbors.
In many ways our collective effort (our government) provides vital services in such an efficient manner that they have become almost invisible. If not invisible, they certainly are under-appreciated. But our government employees aren’t strange foreigners; they’re us, our friends and neighbors.
So, I’m writing to say to my letter carriers, firemen and deputies, and all the other public servants — thank you! I appreciate you very much and I’m certain that most other citizens of our county do as well.
It’s just that sometimes we’re just too busy to let you know.
George Walter is the Nisqually Indian Tribe’s environmental program manager, and is a member of The Olympian’s 2015 Board of Contributors. He may be reached at email@example.com.