Terrapenes, more commonly known as the box turtle, have an average life span of 50 years, with many reaching the centenarian mark. They are found in the wild exclusively in North America.
There are six species. In Missouri, the species we see regularly is the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina).
In one of Aesop’s most well-known fables, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the tortoise wins the race with the rabbit because of its patience and perseverance.
Just how fast — or slow — does the box turtle travel? According to the information I gleaned from the world wide web, the average walking speed of a box turtle is 0.17 mph — although they have been clocked traveling as fast as 0.25 mph over a short distance.
You may or may not be aware but terrapenes usually spend their lives within an area of approximately 250 yards of the nest where they were born.
If a box turtle were to accept the challenge, leaving its home territory and race the United States Postal Service in delivering this newspaper to the St. Louis market, including Chesterfield or Fenton, who do you think would win?
At a distance of approximately 70 miles from Gerald to St. Louis, it would take the turtle 412 hours at 0.17 mph, or 17 days to make that trip.
In Aesop’s classic story, the hare soon leaves the tortoise far behind. Confident of winning, the rabbit takes a nap midway through the race. He wakes too late, only to realize he has lost the race.
Every Wednesday, by 8:30 a.m., our employees sort and label over 200 newspapers between our three publications and deliver them to the post office in Gerald for delivery to the gateway city and beyond.
From there our newspapers are placed on a truck and delivered to the post office sorting facility in Hazelwood that same day.
Less than a year ago, the post office would have won the race delivering our newspapers sometimes in three to four days. Before October 2020, the postal service would sometimes take seven to 10 days for delivery. On rare occasions — proving it’s possible — our newspapers were delivered in two days.
Today, like the hare, the USPS takes a nap in Hazelwood. This nap — closer to Rip Van Winkle’s — can last over a month. What would take the box turtle just 17 days to deliver a newspaper routinely takes the USPS four to six weeks.
Maybe I should be grateful. I received reports from residents in Rosebud who opened their mailboxes in February to discover an advertisement catalog from Bass Pro with specials for Black Friday.
According to the USPS, periodicals originating in mid-Missouri should be delivered anywhere in Missouri within three days — that would be Saturday.
One of our subscribers from Oklahoma recently called to complain. She was getting her newspaper by Saturday, but her sister in St. Louis had not received her paper in three weeks.
The overall question is this. Should we be surprised when a government-run organization operates with this lack of efficiency?
Currently, the Democrat party is pushing for more Big Government controls in our lives, especially when it comes to health care.
These controls remove freedom and profit from the equation. Sooner or later, it will destroy our medical system as it has done with the post office.
As a government-controlled monopoly, the post office has no real incentive to deliver periodicals — newspapers and magazines — in a timely manner. Also, there is no penalty for the post office for late delivery. I cannot ask the post office for a refund when our newspapers are late or not delivered.
The only route for us is to let the post office and our elected officials hear our complaints. To register a complaint with the St. Louis post office, I have called 314-201-0008 or 314-436-4280. I have also written letters to our Senators, Roy Blunt, Josh Hawley, and my Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.
To help bring more light to this problem, I invite you, primarily if your paper is not delivered on time, to take the same actions.
You can also register your complaint with your local post office, but be aware that your local post office and carrier are not responsible for the late delivery of any of your mail. In many cases, they’re our neighbors and friends.
Fun Fact: After successfully mating, a female box turtle can lay fertile eggs for up to four years.