Tuesday, June 28

Bones to Pick With the Postal System

Okay, I know I dressed down our U.S. infrastructure pertaining to the postal system. I love the postal system, but love doesn't mean turning a blind eye to your object of affection's faults. It means acknowledging them and embracing them as a part of the whole, without which your objet d'amour would be another creature entirely.

And then there are flaws that manifest solely within the postal system's context but are not necessarily the fault of the postal system. By this I mean a few problems or annoyances that only turn up because of the USPS, but problems which are not part of the USPS' agenda or a direct result of its actions. The USPS is a vehicle for an unlimited number of variables--that these variables exploit the USPS, like intestinal parasites, does not mean the USPS is a detriment to modern life. On the contrary: it is up to us, we consumers, to mass up and address these aberrations, to resolve them ourselves.

One common problem is that of the shitty postal carrier. Many postal workers are solid joes: they do their job, they know their dominion, and they accrue valuable experience along the way. Delivering mail is not a simple or uneventful task: carriers can stand in as wardens of their community, if not the glue within a neighborhood.

Yet some carriers don't see it like this. Some of them believe they are destined for greater (albeit ill-defined) things. Some believe they're being oppressed by The Man, and the ongoing state of their employment only serves as evidence of this tyranny. Still others just don't give a rat's ass about the job they do, and that would be true of them in any position: in a restaurant, they would drop your steak on the ground and pick it back up to serve to you; in a bank, they would enter your deposit under the wrong account number; at a repair garage, they would mess your car up worse than you'd delivered it to them.

In the USPS, this can manifest as the jackass who simply crams your mail into your mail slot because he's too ill-tempered to do a reasonable job. Maybe the task is too repetitive for him; maybe his significant other chastises him for lacking ambition; maybe a group of douchebags lollygagged in front of his mail truck, causing him to miss a green light. Whatever the reason, he's inappropriately taken this aggression out on me and decreased the quality of my day in some slight but not unmeasureable way.

What he's done here is jammed the weekly circulars in my mail slot. Jammed them in without an eye toward physical space, crumpled up the very mail he has labored to deliver. Which brings up another issue: I don't want those circulars. None of those ads apply to me at all. They are a shameful waste of resources, both in the gas it took to transport them to me and in the trees that were felled to provide the pulp upon which they would be printed, not to mention the man-hours of labor in every stage of its production and dissemination.

I don't want those damned circulars. Nobody in my building wants those damned circulars. Yet they fill up our mailboxes, not addressed to us but to our addresses solely. Sometimes they say "To Our Friends At" but more often "Resident" or "Customers." It would be worthwhile to note who's advertising in these circulars and specifically boycotting them based on their antiquated, wasteful, debauched advertisement methods.

There's a garbage can at the end of the hall. It's made of metal and large enough that I--all 180 lbs. and 6' of me--could crouch down in it and hide, completely concealed by its lid. Weekly, this capacious container fills up with those blighted, horrid circulars; indeed, that can is there expressly for this function alone, to contain all the trash, garbage, rubbish, and waste that turns up in our mailboxes. (Otherwise, of course, the charming and thoughtful American citizens that live here would simply strew their postal detritus up and down the hallway.) Weekly, this container is over-filled with these accursed circulars and a variety of other junk mail.

What's the solution? I'm not specifically sure. When I meet with the postmaster general to talk about how collection boxes are extincted, I'll also ask if there's a way to opt-out of these colon-lapping circulars, or how one would begin to protest their distribution. Is that the purview of our congresspeople? And is it possible to rally enough support to reverse the tide of this wholly unwanted publication?

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