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Although most of us take it for granted, America’s postal service is an amazing bargain.
Buy one 48-cent stamp, and postal workers will deliver your envelope to any address in the country by plane, train, bus, boat, truck, car, bike, push-cart, mule, on-foot, – or, all of the above. But to really get your money’s worth, mail something to someone in this zip code: 48222.
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That’s the only floating zip code in the US. It’s a 45-foot mail boat that has been a registered US Post Office since 1948. Named the J.W. Westcott II, this postal boat is the mail box for crew members working aboard the giant freighters hauling grain, iron ore, and other commodities across the five great lakes. Except for loading at one port, then unloading hundreds of miles away, these long-haul merchant ships never stop, with crews stuck on board for weeks.
So the Westcott, based near Detroit, chugs out to deliver letters and packages as each of the freighters passes by. The skilled pilots of the mail boat maneuver it right up against a steep steel side of the moving freight vessels, keeping perfect pace with the big ships’ speed.
Then, in a very low-tech (but highly-efficient) delivery technique, someone on the freighter lowers a bucket tied to a rope down to the Westcott. The mail boat pilot puts a bag of letters and packages addressed to people on that ship into the bucket, which is pulled back up, and then the little boat peels away from the freighter. Now that’s service!
The official motto of the 48222 zip code is “mail by the pail.” It’s all part of our public Post Office’s amazing commitment to deliver service to all – not just to the rich and the easy-to-reach. To learn more – and to fight schemes by corporate profiteers to privatize and downsize this public service – go to www.AGrandAlliance.org.
“A Mail Boat Stays Afloat,” The New York Times, August 21, 2016.
“The Post Office is not broke–and it hasn’t taken any of our tax money since 1971,” The Hightower Lowdown.