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World

Finland's Postal Service Will Mow Your Lawn

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In the U.S., the postal service is in terrible debt. You've heard the stories - high cost, dwindling demand, technology disruptions.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Finland, things aren't much better. But Posti, the postal service there, has a new idea to help bolster the budget - while the mailman is at the house dropping off your letters, have him also mow the lawn.

TIINA TAPIONLINNA: We are present anyway in all addresses and all households, and that's why we started to think about new services either inside the homes or close to the homes, like this lawn mowing.

CORNISH: That's Tiina Tapionlinna. She's a business development executive from Posti who was part of the team that became up with this idea.

SIEGEL: It's gotten a fair amount of press around the world. But in Finland, it kind of fits with what the postal service has already been doing.

TAPIONLINNA: We also do day care services for elderly people who live alone. In addition to taking the mail to the person, we might stay for let's say 15 minutes or so and help with eating, checking that medicine is taken, help with other tasks that they might have.

CORNISH: With this new program, people can sign up for grass cutting. The mail man or woman will use whatever lawn mower the customer has at hand. About $150 a month gets you an hour of work every Tuesday through the summer, and it's tax-deductible.

SIEGEL: Sign-ups opened last week. Tapionlinna says so far, orders have been all right.

TAPIONLINNA: I would say hundreds at this point of time, but there will be still more to come.

CORNISH: What do the 16,000 workers in the Finnish postal service think about their new summer gig?

TAPIONLINNA: Overall, the response from our staff has been mostly positive. But of course, this lawn mowing service is quite far from the traditional work that they used to do, so not every person is so enthusiastic about this.

CORNISH: The pilot project will go from May 17 until August. And later in the fall, people in Finland may expect their postal workers to break out the shovels and help with the snow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.