It pains me to write this, as I would only like to reflect the entire postal system as the generous and glowing network it is. I love it, I use it all the time, and I encourage others to avail themselves of it as well. So many postal worker and postal carriers are hard-working, good-spirited civil servants, worthy of commendation and recognition for their tireless, consistent efforts. I consider them friends in absentia.
But an untarnished panegyric would be disingenuous, and we must be adults about these things. We love America, we love our parents, but you have reached adulthood when you can admit to yourself--however uncomfortably--that they have some flaws and they could be better. So it is with the post office.
My postal carrier is, to avoid cussing, a colonic polyp. I've never seen him in action, I only know him by his results and evidence. But first, let's look at what makes a postal worker angry.
I've heard it theorized that working at the post office is frustrating because there isn't tremendous room for growth. If you don't like the position you're working in, you still have to plug away at it for years or as long as you care to stay there. Is that true? Can anyone confirm or deny that? So that makes some people grumpy and may even have precipitated the the events that generated the unfortunate colloquialism "going postal." (And yet, when a student brings a gun collection to school and commits an atrocity against humanity, no one calls that "going scholastic." The post office suffers a bias here.)
For this reason, as well, some people may not care to join a dead-end job and do the same activity for decades, and some of those who do may not have many other career options. One of my postal carriers in a prior neighborhood was a sketchy character on his own merit. I saw him pull up to deliver mail for the block and three beer cans fell out of the driver's side of the delivery vehicle. He seemed unconcerned about that and that there was a witness to it, as well.
But I have no theories about the polyp who delivers my mail, no origin story for what made him a malicious or at least irresponsible person. He could've been bitten by a radioactive Iron Man suit for all I know. Maybe he lost a lot of tolerance from the people who used to live here, because that is one factor of the problem with the mail here: all these damned catalogues. It looks like, based on the "Or Current Resident" mail I get, that these people bought all their clothes, furniture, and home furnishings from catalogues, because not only do we get a high number of them on a weekly basis, they also come in a broad variety. Some are thicker than a comic book and some are just smaller than a phone book.
Our postal carrier's technique is this: put in the smallest mail first (postcards), then stuff the larger mail in (insurance packet, Hadasah Magazine (which my wife doesn't even want but apparently it's forbidden to remove yourself from the mailing list), circulars, etc.), and then he packs in the thick, unwanted, erroneosly delivered catalogues on top with as much force as was used in the Civil War to barrel-load a light cannon.
He's upset at his job. He's upset at the sheer volume of these catalogues that are clearly labeled for someone else--and he even wrote a little sign that said our boxes must be labeled with our own names or we won't get any mail (yet he's more than willing to give you mail that does not match the labeled name)--and he takes his frustration out on us. This is unfair, it's unprofessional, and it resolves nothing. It doesn't make him less angry, but it creates brand-new anger in me and my wife for this colonic polyp in the blue uniform.
I've tried to play the game by the rules. I took out a set of undramatic postcards, snipped out the delivery address with all the attendant codes, pasted them on the postcards and sent them out. (I even wrote about this some time ago.) I sent them to Macy's, Neiman-Marcus, Pottery Barn, J. Crew, and all the others requesting in no uncertain terms that all delivery of catalogues to our residence cease upon receipt of notice. I recognize it takes a few weeks for the lugubrious wheels of capitalism to turn in the opposite direction and stop forcing marketing down someone's throat, but legally it's required when requested. Yet we're still getting catalogues and our mail carrier thinks it's our fault and is taking out his aggression on our other mail. I haven't received an unmutilated postcard since I moved to this apartment, and that really hurts. Even the horrible slum-lord sublet in Southeast had a perfunctory mail service that at least kept our crap in presentable order.
That's justice, in the mind of my postal carrier. He's mad at me for catalogues that were meant for someone else. He delivers these unwanted catalogues to me and mutilates my actual mail in the process. When I try to prevent the delivery of these catalogues, he foils my attempt and returns them to me, for no other reason than to perpetuate (in direct contrast to alleviating) the process.
Names have been called in to Missing Persons for much less than this.