We think it's time to say thanks to the postmen and postwomen of An Post who are providing essential services during the Covid-19 crisis
I feel like I have a stronger connection to An Post than most.
My father is a retired postman and my brother is currently a postman. His wife is a postwoman whose father is also a postman.
We are one child away from becoming the Von Trapps of An Post.
My other brother was close to joining the service until I pointed out that people would start to think the establishment is a family-run mafia operation if we weren't careful.
My father retired in 2018 and although he says he doesn't miss the work, he misses the people – and it is the people that are at the heart of An Post.
While it serves businesses, its duty is to people and always has been.
How many broken-hearted mothers waited patiently for the letters of children who scattered and fled? Or the grown adults who waited for the care packages filled with Barry's Tea that would make them feel at home on the other side of the world? And who doesn't secretly relish in the predictability of the annual Christmas cards?
The service provided by An Post made those things happen. It was a link, a vital one. It still is, but with email and the world of technology, the channel is disparate. The critics are there who say it isn't needed.
"Sure isn't it easier to send an email?"
"Why can't you just Skype?"
"Nobody sends letters anymore."
These people seem to forget about a large portion of our population who do not want to send an email, who can't Skype and who trust paper more than a computer screen.
Big and small
It's the little things that make An Post and its workers so vital at this moment in time. It's the hellos and goodbyes. The five-minute chat full of small talk through a window that says nothing at all but at the same time says everything.
And it's the big things too.
Once my father saved an elderly woman who had fallen at the back of her house. She was unable to get up and without his assistance, it may have been a much different outcome. My brother too has had to come to the aid of many during his years.
In rural areas, the postmen and postwomen do a lot more than just hand in the odd package. For some, they are the only face they may see on a day and this provides comfort that can't be bought.
Human connection is a privilege and is one we forget many are not privy to.
A word of thanks
We will never truly be able to thank the healthcare workers of Ireland for the work they are doing during this crisis. It's a vocation and they deserve every medal on this earth.
However, we need to acknowledge the other individuals who are providing essential services in this country like An Post workers. And this week they are going one step further for the most vulnerable of our communities.
From today family members can request a local postman or postwoman to check in on an elderly or vulnerable person during this period of cocooning. All you have to do is fill in the postal address and Eircode of the person on the community support section of the An Post website.
There is also a newspaper delivery service available, ensuring that people get their daily reads.
As a child, I would watch my dad speed away to work and think he was the most important man in the land. Everyone knew him as the man with the mail and I looked at him as a hero.
I still do.
So give a word of thanks the next time you meet your postman or postwoman on their travels.
Because not all heroes wear capes — some of them drive a green van.
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