November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Mark Levy/Casual Observer

F on FL


Saving Time on Envelopes

by Mark Levy

 In 1963, the U.S. Post Office, now called the United States Postal Service or USPS, decided to simplify our lives — or at least Post Office employees’ lives — by introducing two-letter abbreviations for the 50 states. This was to accommodate a 7-digit field for zip codes, too, which were introduced the same year.

Some of the abbreviations are difficult to remember, since a number of them begin with the same letter. For example, the words, Michigan, Mississippi, and Minnesota all start not only with M, but M-I. Who knows how many residents of Michigan have received threatening reminders from companies harassing customers in Minnesota or Mississippi.

The two-letter abbreviations make sense for states that have the same starting letter, like the eight M states and the eight N states. But I now live in Florida and there’s only one F state, just as there is only one G, H, L, R, and U state. There’s also only one P state at this time, but when Puerto Rico becomes a state, Pennsylvania will lose its status, at least abbreviation-wise.

Of course, I am going along with this silly naming convention, even though only one letter would be sufficient for Florida, but it’s starting to bother me that I have to use the letters FL for my address when, in fact, there would be no confusion if I used just the letter F by itself. I can’t help thinking how much effort I’ve put into adding the superfluous second letter so many, many times.

If you multiply my frustration by the 19 million of my fellow sunshine state residents, you can see how astonishing our efforts are. If each person who lives here writes or types a Florida address only once a week, for instance, the amount of wasted ink or printer toner can amount to well over two, maybe three gallons every year. In this age of conservation, that certainly appears wasteful, don’t you agree?

Well, if you do agree, perhaps you’ll like my plan: let’s all write to the USPS and ask it to change its policy for Florida. When the USPS receives millions of requests, it’s sure to capitulate.

I know what you’re thinking: wouldn’t the effort be ironically counter-productive if we included the second letter of the postal abbreviation on our return addresses? Glad you asked that insightful question. And you’re right: sometimes you have to travel in the opposite direction in order to get where you want to go. At least that’s the way I saw it when I spent last weekend in Georgia.


About the author:

Mark Levy, our “Casual Observer,” is an attorney in Florida. You can read more about him in About Us.