They like it. They enjoy it. They'll miss it. But it's not that big a deal.
That was the consensus last week on the approaching end of Saturday mail delivery expressed by a small group of local residents who frequently gather at the Nodaway County Senior Center for a friendly game of pitch.
"I'll miss it," said Deanna Littles, a card-game regular. "Getting mail is just something you look forward to every day. And I usually have things of importance delivered on Saturday that I like to get on time."
But come August, for Littles and millions of other seniors, opening those envelopes containing "things of importance" will have to wait until Monday, assuming the plan to end weekend delivery goes forward. The proposed change is based on a legal loophole that may or may not stand up to scrutiny.
Congress has long included a ban on five-day delivery in its budget, but because the federal government is operating under a temporary spending measure, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe says the U.S. Postal Service, which receives no federal funds, is free to act on its own.
Awash in red ink, the agency has wanted to end Saturday delivery for years but has always been blocked by Congress — especially rural lawmakers who maintain weekend mail is vital for farmers, small business owners, the elderly and others who live in relatively isolated areas.
Nodaway County's congressman, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, has been especially vocal about the need for Saturday mail in a part of the country where Internet access, though widespread, is far from universal — especially for retirees who, for whatever reasons, can't or don't want to cross the digital divide.
Littles and her Senior Center companions nevertheless say an empty mailbox on Saturday won't cause them any major problems. However, they fear it will make their world a little emptier.
"Our weekends are so long anyway," Littles said. "(Getting mail) just sort of breaks up your weekend."
Another of the pitch partners, Frederic Goudge, said he recognizes the Postal Service is in a tough spot budget-wise and needs to take steps to get its fiscal house in order.
"I like to get mail on Saturday, too," Goudge said. "But if they can save that kind of money, then they'd better do it."
The Postal Service suffered a $15.9 billion loss last year and expects the Saturday cutback to save about $2 billion annually.
"We would miss it, and it will make for a longer weekend if you don't get mail," said Senior Center patron Don Fisher. "But whatever the majority of the people want, that's fine with me."
Another of the group, Bessie Proffit said she rarely finds anything of urgent importance in her mailbox on Saturday, but will still miss a service she's always taken for granted.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's just something I've had all my life," Proffit said.
A fifth card player, Anna Bears, said the real beginning of the end for Saturday mail probably goes back a lot farther than email and the digital revolution.
"I welcome mail anytime," Bears said. "But really, you get your mail over the telephone."