The United States Postal Service is everyone’s favorite punching bag, but it often succeeds where other methods fail.

Over the past few months I’ve been trying to reconnect with an old friend. I tried phone calls, text messages and emails. No response. I tried to find him on various social media sites, but it was as if he didn’t exist.

I began to worry. What if something awful had happened to him? I Googled his name, saying a silent prayer and hoping that I wouldn’t find bad news among the search results. The best that Google could offer me was an old MySpace page from 15 years ago.

A few weeks ago, I wrote him a letter and mailed it to his last known address. I placed it in the outgoing mail slot at the Scarborough Post Office and walked away, not feeling very optimistic about my chances of ever receiving a reply.

Two weeks later, I heard back from my dear old friend. There had been a perfect storm of impeded communication: He had moved to a different area, gotten a new phone number, switched to a different email provider and abandoned social media. He apologized for worrying me and said how nice it was to receive my “snail mail,” which the Postal Service had dutifully forwarded to his new location.

There’s not much one can buy for 47 cents these days. A pack of chewing gum? Nope. A cup of coffee? Not a chance. A trip on the Turnpike from Wells to Kennebunk? That’ll cost you $1.50.

Forty-seven cents will, however, afford you the opportunity to communicate with someone in one of the most meaningful and heartfelt ways: a handwritten letter. And it doesn’t matter whether that someone is in Fairfield, Maine, or Fairbanks, Alaska. Forty-seven cents is all it takes. Thank you, USPS.

Adrian Dowling

South Portland