The Postal Service facility responsible for deciphering illegible handwritten addresses from across the nation has a growing fan base.
Millions of viewers have learned what it takes to get mail delivered to the right place since the USPS Remote Encoding Center, known as the REC, in Salt Lake City opened its doors to British YouTuber Tom Scott.
The nearly eight-minute video, filmed July 8, recently hit more than 3.7 million views on YouTube, as of the date this story was published.
“It’s one of the most popular videos I’ve made in the past year. Something about it seems to have resonated with both my audience and the wider world,” Scott said.
Scott has made more than 600 educational videos for his YouTube channel. He learned about the REC, which receives digital images of letters and packages with illegible addresses from across the United States, from one of his viewers.
During the video, Scott receives a tutorial from REC Manager Ryan Bullock using “demonstration mail” composed of envelopes and addresses that REC keyers use for training. Bullock also showcases the special keyboard used for their digital detecting and talks about the history of REC facilities.
Bullock, who serves as Scott’s tour guide throughout the video, has worked for USPS since 1997 — when there were 55 REC facilities.
The Salt Lake City location, which has just over 800 employees, is the only remaining REC. It is open every day of the year, with shifts around the clock.
Ninety-nine percent of the letters that USPS handles can be sorted electronically. Images of the 1 percent that can’t be read by sorting machines are sent to the REC.
Technology advances and a decrease in handwritten addresses have resulted in only 1.2 billion images a year needing to be keyed manually, compared with 19 billion in 1997, Bullock explains in the video.
“The employees at the REC do amazing work,” said Mike Barber, processing and operations vice president. “I’m glad to see that so many people are fascinated by — and appreciative of — that work after they learn about it.”
Bullock said that the REC has received an increase of interested visitors seeking to tour the facility since Scott’s video appeared on YouTube.
While the REC has received recent increased attention, this isn’t its first 15 minutes of fame. The facility has also been showcased in TV news reports, including a “Today” segment in 2015.