It’s so easy to complain about the U.S. Postal Service. I’ve found myself doing so lately when a package was left on my sidewalk rather than the porch and when I was told it would take two days for my “overnight delivery” package to arrive. But the reason it’s so easy to complain is this — we take for granted the extraordinary service the USPS provides day in and day out.

This was brought home to me when I read a wonderful letter in the New York Times by a Turkish woman who emigrated to the U.S. Zeynep Tufekci writes with sweet amazement about discovering America’s magically-reliable mail service. Not only was she shocked that she did not need to get every letter individually weighed at the Post Office, but she and her country mates couldn’t believe that outgoing mail would actually be picked up at her home six days a week. And then this epiphany:

“I then encountered a visa service that asked me to mail in my passport. My precious, precious passport. With a self-addressed, stamped envelope for its return. I laughed at the audacity of the request. Despite being a broke student, I booked a plane trip. I couldn’t envision putting my passport in the mail. I’ve since learned that this is a common practice, and I’ve even done it once or twice myself. But it still does not come easy to me.”

Having just mailed off my passport for renewal without giving it a second thought, her letter reminded me how incredibly fortunate we are that we can mail important documents without having to be overly concerned that they might not arrive.

Many other countries don’t have such reliable mail service. When my son studied in Italy last summer, he tried to get a replacement laptop charger shipped to him from Amazon Italy. The charger took weeks and multiple phone calls to arrive, and no one but him was surprised.

Fortunately, after years of bad news, the future looks bright for the USPS. It has now almost fully recovered from the sharp decline in first class mail caused by the double-whammy of the internet and the recession. Mail volume has stabilized at just over 150 billion pieces and the organization is turning an operating profit again. And the best news of all is that the USPS has restructured itself to use its network to tackle new growth markets.

The USPS now delivers packages for Amazon seven days a week. While the final numbers are not in yet, the USPS was expected to deliver more than 600 million packages between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve, an increase of more than 15% versus 2014. They’re even showing up in the early morning hours with milk, eggs and other perishable items in some areas!

So the next time you’re ready to complain about something the USPS has done poorly, please join me in taking a minute to appreciate how many things it does well!

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