Photo via AP. The love comes free.

We can’t choose how we’re born. What we can choose is who we stand beside. I’m proud to proclaim to the world: I’m a mail ally.

I give all of the credit to my mom. She’s the one who shaped my values. I still remember the day she sat me down and told me, “Son, Thomas Neale received a grant from the British government to found the North American Postal Service in 1691.” Other boys just listened to their dads drone on about sports heroes, but I was lucky enough to have a family that regaled me with tales of the colorful tenure of Rufus Easton, the very first postmaster west of the Mississippi.

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Did you know that he kept up a voluminous correspondence with Aaron Burr? Not many guys do.

No, I’m not a mail carrier myself, but nobody has more respect for them than I do. Lots of guys just look at the cool truck and uniforms—the surface stuff. But my respect runs deeper. Often, when I see a mail carrier out working, I’ll start walking next to her, telling her she’s doing a great job and offering to carry her cart, just to let her know that not everyone is oblivious to her struggle. It can get lonely out there delivering mail in all types of weather. Does anyone even care? The answer is yes. I care. And I walk beside her, telling her this, every chance I get.

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Sometimes mail carriers act like they don’t like it when I do that. But I know they like it.

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I can’t tell you how mad I get when I’m out at a party and I hear some idiot start talking about, “Mail volume is at a three-decade low, so I support the Congressional bill to raise stamp prices and cut healthcare spending on postal workers.” I literally can’t take the ignorance. Do these guys even hear themselves? Do they have any idea of the unique health care needs of mail carriers? No way.

But I do.

I may not be out there personally putting mail in mailboxes, but I do what I can to support the mail carrier struggle. When I order stuff on Amazon, I always select shipping from the USPS. Sure, it might be a hassle sometimes, but what is that compared to the people out there trudging through snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night to make sure that my issue of Harper’s reaches me on time? It completely blows my mind when I think about what mail carriers go through. Out there at all hours, dodging barking dogs, dealing with all the different keys you need to open things, lugging those big bags around. You’re such freaking rock stars. Honestly. Does anyone even appreciate what you do?

I do. Here, let me rub your shoulders a little bit. Whoops, you walked away by accident.

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Doing your shipping via FedEx? Sorry—that’s a dealbreaker for me. If people don’t “get” why I care about mail carriers so much, I don’t get upset. I actually feel sorry for them. They’ll never find out how wonderful the 617,000 employees of the United States Postal Service really are. Yeah, why would we care about them—they’re only the second largest civilian work force in the nation. Idiots!

I’m sorry. I just get worked up sometimes. I know how hard you work. To see some dumb jock out there making an ignorant remark about how UPS is “more efficient” just eats me up inside. As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t even hold an intelligent conversation on the ZIP code’s half-century-long evolution from five to nine digits, you can do us all a favor and keep your mouth closed. If society thinks I’m “weird” because I educate myself on what my mail carrier goes through, I’m fine with that. I’m willing to take the slings and arrows so you don’t have to. You have a mail route to concentrate on. Please know that I’m walking with you—every step of the way. Metaphorically.

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Want to come in and see my stamp collection?