Of direct deposit and weekend mail delivery


I was having a conversation with my mother a few days ago. It was more or less the usual stuff… or at least not surprising stuff… this time covering birthdays and cards and a few other assorted bits tossed in for good measure.

The delivery of cards and mail provided a tangent for us. You can imagine the basics… how long it can take to be delivered, the challenges our family faces with international addresses… and eventually we began kicking around Saturday mail delivery.

I have, on several occasions, mentioned my thoughts about direct deposit and the United States Postal Service. As a refresher…

One of my pet peeves over the years when a company welcomes new staff and discusses direct deposit is that they always seem to point out that, and this isn’t someone in particular that I’m quoting (but the words are so easy and attributable to so many): “You get your money early.”

Which… yeah… no. No, you don’t.

Physical checks for payroll are almost extinct. Not officially or completely, but in addition to direct deposit, many companies are now using things like reloadable credit/debit cards. Still… we’ll use the physical check for the sake of outlining this idea.

The quote is based on the thought that many businesses will process their direct deposit activities a handful of days prior to issuing live checks. And so *poof* with direct deposit you get paid earlier.

My problem with this theory is that it only happens early one time. After that, you enter a cycle. And unless you or the company does something to change the cycle, you get paid the same way over and over again. Let’s say pay day is Monday and happens weekly, with direct deposit monies transferred on Friday. For your first direct deposit, you get paid three days early. (Yeah!) For your second… and third… and so on… you get paid on Friday, and Friday, and Friday. Not early… every seven days, just like the checks coming out every Monday.

The actual beauty of direct deposit is more likely to be found in how the transactions are taken care of regardless of holidays… or how your schedule allows for physically picking up a check (such as with days off, vacation, etc.)… and similar scenarios. The fact that one is processed before the other might also help if something like a discrepancy over hours worked becomes involved.

Ok... yes… yes… you do get your funds sooner. And that there is what you can call a synonym for a word like earlier. But for my perspective, once you’ve adjusted your world of bill paying and your lifestyle to the schedule, the reality is simple. It’s not early. It’s on time. (Hopefully. Without discrepancies. And now, over to the Post Office…)

Every so often in the United States, we hear conversations and suggestions about ways to assist the U.S. Postal Service in addressing some issues. One of the concepts presented always involves eliminating weekend mail delivery. No more Saturday carrier service for regular mail. And then a huge wave of people respond by losing the minds entirely.

Apparently, eliminating Saturday mail delivery to the homes of these people will cause the planet to split in two, a giant volcanic demon to rise from the chasm, and life as we know it around the world will end.

Which… is silly.

Saturday’s mail will just arrive on Monday. Or, if there’s a holiday maybe it shows up on Tuesday. Regardless, it will show up without a giant volcanic demon. (Fine… maybe it arrives with a giant volcanic demon, but definitely not with one because that giant volcanic demon had been waiting for a lack of Saturday mail as the “go go go” cue to take center stage.)

Which ultimately brings us around to this: People think too much of comfort.

Let’s not mistake that idea for being comfortable. I’m not saying that happy and at peace and in general content with things is bad. No. Not at all. What I’m trying to say, without saying people don’t like change, is that… yeah, well… people hate change. And the reason I’m trying to avoid that phrasing is because I don’t think it’s all about change.

It’s more about expectations. What we’re used to. What we think... more presicsely... what we know is going to happen.

Ever headed to the bank… a restaurant… anyplace… and find the doors locked? You know… locked when they shouldn’t be? Only the bank is closed because it’s a holiday… the owners of the favorite dining locale are on their annual vacation that happens the same time every year… and in general, you get to deal with the reality that you’re the one that’s off. And you’re off because you forgot the holiday, lost track of the date, and so on, all of which runs against what you were expecting.

It’s that perpetual feeling you have all day that it’s Friday, only you keep stumbling across the reality that it’s Saturday.

Normal and comfort and expected can be wonderful things. It’s how many of us find our car keys… because they’re where we normally put them. It’s feeling warm and happy… because our favorite sweatshirt and blanket and chair are comforting. It’s the world seeming right… because the sun is still out on a nice summer evening, a good show is on television, and everything is moving along exactly as you expected.

Folks… it does not matter whether or not the mail is delivered or picked up or handled in any way on a Saturday if someone forgot to mail the birthday card in a timely fashion. Take a deep breath, mark the calendar better for next year, and get over it.

It’s not about early… not about late… it’s expectations of the schedule and how you handle them. Nothing more.

And as it turns out, my mother agrees.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com