HOLLADAY — On a typical day, Holladay-based United States postal worker Bryan Snyder will deliver somewhere between 50-75 packages. Just the other day, he handed out 232.
“We do around 250-300 on Christmas,” Snyder said. “So it’s almost like Christmas every day.”
While other businesses have closed doors and sent employees home to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, postal workers have gone from house to house delivering everything from relief checks to prescription medicine to food and other crucial items. They have helped the U.S. survive a time of social distancing and stay-at-home directives.
And they've done it through some very uncertain times.
Not only do the postal workers have to worry about coming in contact with the virus (as of April 30, at least 1,234 carriers had tested positive for COVID-19 with 46 dying), but they also have to worry about the agency itself.
On Tuesday, House Democrats released a coronavirus aid package that includes $25 billion for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service. Without a bailout, the USPS said it could run out of money by the end of September. The Postal Service expects the virus to lead to a $22 billion loss over the next 18 months.
The bill — which is expected to be voted on by the House on Friday, according to the Associated Press — would also repeal restrictions on a $10 billion line of credit for the Postal Service given in a previous economic relief law.
"We are at a critical juncture in the life of the Postal Service," Postmaster General Megan Brennan said in April. "At a time when America needs the Postal Service more than ever, the reason we are so needed is having a devastating effect on our business."
The agency is saddled with billions of dollars of debt amid falling revenue. Mail volume is down by over 30% from last year and, due to the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the USPS has to prepay employees’ health and retirement benefits. That's left the Postal Service in a dire situation. In April, the service requested $75 billion in aid to help stay afloat.
But all of the political rumblings in Washington, D.C., and the uncertainty of the situation hasn’t stopped workers like Snyder and his colleagues from simply doing their jobs — a job that many in the neighborhood are valuing a bit more these days.
“People come out all the time now saying, ‘We appreciate what you guys do’ and ‘I don’t know what I’d do without you,’” Snyder said.
When he was told a story about someone’s parents in rural Nevada whose only access to supplies was through the mail, it sank in how important his work could be.
“That makes you feel good because what you are doing makes a difference,” Snyder said.
Snyder is in his 35th year with the Postal Service — a career that started when he responded to an ad in the newspaper — and these last two months will definitely stand out when he looks back at his career.
He's had some eerie drives into work as he is the only car on the road. He's seen more people outside walking and jogging as they’ve tried to cope with social distancing. And he's had to make sure to bring a lunch every day — because food options are limited.
“You can’t go through the drive-thru,” Snyder said, laughing. “The door’s on the other side.”
But what might stand out the most is seeing people come together even in a crazed time. The greetings have been more cheerful and he has seen citizens lean on each other for help.
“I think people have become more friendly,” he said.
A couple of weeks ago, Snyder took a week off. He didn't think much of it, but he returned to find some relieved people on his mail route. The reason: They had feared the worst.
“They were concerned,” Snyder said. “They thought I might’ve got the virus.”
Building those relationships is what he’s enjoyed the most during a career that has spanned over three decades. He gets to get out of the office, enjoy some nice weather and make connections with other people.
And now he’s helping them get through a pandemic, too.