When I was a kid, I was obsessed with having pen pals. I LOVED writing letters, getting letters in return, and checking the mailbox. (That is, until I turned 11 and discovered the wonder of pre-internet BBSes.) I remember being able to leave a five dollar bill in the mailbox, which the mailman would replace with a book of stamps so I could write to my pen pals. I also spent a lot of time writing to companies like Crayola and asking for free stuff.
Even as an adult, I’m kind of weird about the mail. I get extremely upset if anyone else checks the mailbox or looks through the mail before I get to it. (Just ask my ex-husband. I’m pretty sure that’s part of why we’re divorced now.) Despite the fact that I very rarely send or receive anything via USPS, there’s always some small part of me that hopes I’ll get something amazing. Don’t judge me!
The US Postal Service is constantly in the news lately. They’re going to run out of money. They’re shutting down more post offices. They might stop delivering mail on Saturdays. They’re raising postage rates. People are all upset at the thought of changes, but I think many of them are missing an important fact: The postal service sucks.
Why I Hate the Postal Service
I live on a highway a few miles from a rock quarry. All day long, rock trucks race up and down the road in front of my house doing whatever rock trucks do. My mailbox is across said highway, meaning I have to risk my life every time I go get the mail. It never fails – I run across the road, timing carefully so I don’t get smashed by a rock truck, only to find an empty mailbox. Or worse, I get a Walmart sale ad and nothing else. (WHY do they stuff all those random cards and crap inside the sale papers?) But that’s not the only reason I hate the postal service.
I hate the postal service because some (not all!) of its employees are lazy, sadistic jerks. A few examples:
- My mailman when I first moved out of my parents’ house, who was fired for hoarding people’s magazines, reading them, and delivering them weeks or months after they were originally mailed.
- A friend’s mailman, who got caught stealing greeting cards in hopes that they contained money.
- The guy at the local post office who rolls his eyes every time I buy stamps, like he has SO MANY other things to do.
- The mail truck that stops right in the middle of Main Street every day, blocking traffic, to deliver mail to the courthouse. There are 50 parking spots and the guy can’t pull into one?!?!
And then there’s my current mailman. He has one of the easiest jobs on the planet – he drives down the highway where I live and puts mail in mailboxes. He doesn’t even have to walk his route – he sticks his arm out the car window right from the road. Yes, he works Monday through Saturday, but he’s done with his route by lunchtime each day and he gets a bazillion holidays a year. You’d think it would be kind of hard to screw up a job like that. He really tries his hardest, though.
The Disgruntled Postal Worker Stereotype, Personified
This guy HATES when I get packages in the mail. He literally pulls into my driveway, tosses the packages in front of the garage, and honks the horn. Like I’m a trained circus animal who’s supposed to fetch the box on command. He also throws any actual mail I receive onto the ground beside the package so he doesn’t have to stop at the mailbox on his way out. You know, because that extra 40 seconds is really going to ruin his day!
One time I ordered something online and the box was almost exactly the size of the mailbox. My lovely mailman wedged it in there so tightly that I couldn’t get it out – I pulled so hard, the whole mailbox (post and all) came out of the ground and I busted my butt on the road. Maybe I’m dramatic, but I seriously could have DIED if a car had popped over the hill at that moment.
When it rains, my mailman likes to leave the mailbox door hanging open. I guess his hand might get wet if he takes the extra second or so to close it.
On the rare occasions that I mail something, my mailman leaves it out there (with the flag up) for days. He says he doesn’t have to get it unless I receive something in the mail – I’ve never verified that, but REALLY?? Is it that hard to slow down and grab an envelope? He probably wouldn’t even have to come to a complete stop.
Postal Service? Meh.
With all these awesome displays of Postal Power™, is it any wonder that I feel NO sympathy toward the USPS? I’d be thrilled if they routed all packages through UPS or FedEx, fired all the crappy employees, and kept the decent ones to scan and email non-junk to its recipients. Think how much money the government could save that way!
When I was in college, we had to read this dorky book about a super awesome mailman named Fred (The Fred Factor if you’re interested). He was so helpful and friendly, and the people on his route baked him cookies because he was just an amazing mailman. Well, my question is, where are all the Freds now? Maybe if we could answer that, we could find a way to fix what’s wrong with the postal service.