Most people know the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Evanston residents patronizing the main Post Office at 1101 Davis St. over the past several weeks know that even the inside workers were struggling against adverse weather to complete their tasks.
On Jan. 6, the RoundTable spoke with two U.S.P.S. employees, one a long-term employee and the other, a more recent hire.
One employee said there had been no heat in the building since November. “I work inside at one of the windows and have to wear my hat, scarf, coat, and boots. When people come in the door, the cold blasts in with them,” the employee told the RoundTable.
The 30 or so space heaters provided “do not help much,” the employee said, adding that some employees were getting sick, coughing on each other and working in the cold in hats and gloves and boots.
“They keep saying they need someone to come out with a crane. This is unheard-of for the Post Office, a government institution, not to have heat,” the employee said.
The other employee said it is “extremely uncomfortable” to be inside the building. “It has been two months since there has been heat.”
When a RoundTable reporter called the Davis Street Post Office, she was told, “We have heat” and was referred to Sean Hargadon of corporate communications for the Lakeland District of U.S.P.S.
By email, Mr. Hargadon wrote, “The Evanston Post Office is currently working with contractors to replace the motor unit that circulates heat at the building. The motor failed in December. That unit is located on the roof of the building and requires a crane to install it.
“While waiting to receive needed parts, the recent cold weather delayed this process. We expect this to be completed very soon. The company scheduled to complete the repair has brought in space heaters as a temporary solution.
“We praise our employees for living up to the postal motto during this time. We appreciate their continued commitment to provide excellent service to the community during one of the busiest holiday seasons on record.”
According to information from the U.S. Postal Service website, usps.gov, the “motto” is a translation from Book 8, Paragraph 98 of “The Persian Wars” by Herodotus, who wrote that during the wars between the Greeks and Persians (500-449 B.C.), “the Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers who served with great fidelity.
“The firm of McKim, Mead & White designed the New York General Post Office, which opened to the public on Labor Day in 1914. One of the firm’s architects, William Mitchell Kendall, was the son of a classics scholar and read Greek for pleasure. He selected the ‘Neither snow nor rain . . .’ inscription, which he modified from a translation by Professor George Herbert Palmer of Harvard University, and the Post Office Department approved it.”