In some small towns, everyone comes to the post office. They come to see their neighbors, check the obituaries, share their ailments, send packages to grandchildren, and get their mail. Many don't have curbside service, and some wouldn't want it even if it were offered. As pharmacies and banks close, the post office delivers medicines sent by mail and sells money orders to those without checking accounts. Postmasters work all aspects of the job in these small offices, sorting mail, selling stamps, and keeping up with the locals. Postmaster is a lifetime appointment associated with a particular location. In the West, the establishing of a post office often constituted the official establishment of a town. Recent budget cuts have forced the closure of many post offices and a reduction of hours at even more. Postmasters in these offices are often forced to retire or accept non-career positions with hourly wages and no benefits. Even these "postmaster relief" positions are sometimes held for 25 years.
I travel by car to the post offices and arrive unannounced. I make portraits of the postmasters and record observations made while in the office. I print both on postcards return them to the postmaster to be hand cancelled and mailed.
I grew up in a small town in Kansas. I love getting mail. I regularly send mail. Some of my best friends are pen pals. I’m grateful for the elaborate network of carriers and clerks the get the mail from here to there.