* As an employee of the United States Postal Service, I welcome the opportunity to respond to Mr. Bill Smith's letter ("Don't Cater to Last-Minute Tax Filers," April 24) and clarify some common misconceptions about the Postal Service.
We work 24 hours per day, six days per week (and Sundays at limited hours) at the Postal Service whether it's tax night or any other night.
Many people don't realize that the majority of our work is done while the rest of the country is at home with their families or asleep.
It just so happens that on tax night we move much of our mail-processing operations outdoors because it aids our operations.
The fact is, we would have the huge volume of tax returns whether we were outside collecting it or not.
But collecting the returns at a central location and keeping the tax returns separate from the rest of the mail stream saves the Post Office processing time and costs. An added benefit is that it is a convenience to our customers that we are outside, greeting them pleasantly despite the nature of their business, and taking their mail without them having to step out of their vehicles. In addition, we do make tax forms and some window services available.
Generally speaking, we have fun on tax night because it takes us out of the routine, and it allows the behind-the-scenes people--the mail-processing people--the opportunity to say hello to the people they process millions of pieces of mail for each night.
The postal people you see greeting, collecting and canceling mail, or directing traffic are either on their regular work schedule or are volunteers who have either put in an eight-hour day already or have altered their schedules to accommodate the inordinate amount of mail we receive during the late hours of April 15. Overtime is used very rarely because of tax night.
Interestingly enough, although we play a role in the collection of tax dollars, we do not receive any tax dollars to run the organization. The Postal Service is self-supporting, and has not relied on tax dollars since 1982.
Because we are large, and a government agency, people find it easy to criticize us. We have a dedicated work force that in some way touches every household (all 121 million of them) six days per week.
The next time you see an open house at a Post Office or processing and distribution center being promoted, take advantage of the opportunity to come in to see what your postage pays for. It's a lot more than you think.