Going Postal: Day 9

vet-stamp.jpgDay 9: Cannon Fodder Confessions

I really don’t want to talk about the pain anymore. First of all it is redundant. Second of all it makes me sound like whiny-ass bitch-boy. That said…MY BODY HURTS SOOOOO FUCKIN’ MUCH IT’S UNBELIEVABLE!!!

When people ask me what it feels like to get a tattoo, I tell them that it is like getting a razor dragged through your skin, which to a certain extent is exactly what it is. Well, I have sat and voluntarily had a razor dragged through my skin for up to six hours at a time, on various places on my body. And that was nothing compared to last night. The entire right side of my body—and by “entire right side of my body” what I mean to say is “entire right side of my body, including my pubic hair”—was in pain. It felt like a butcher knife was not only being dragged through my skin, but my muscles as well. I don’t know what I did, but somewhere around five or six hours into the 11-plus hours I worked, the pain set in. Once that happened, four words pounded in my head—I can’t do this. Actually, I think that’s four and a half words, since “can’t” is a contraction.

The point is that last night I broke mentally. It is embarrassing that it only took nine days of working at the post office to break me down—hell, I survived fours years with Jen—but that’s what happened. Last night one of the guys who started the same day I did quit. He told me straight up, “My body can’t take this torture.” I almost hugged him, because I was thinking maybe it was just me being some sort of pussy. But seriously, this shit is unreal. You always hear about how the post office is run like the military, and in a lot of ways it is true, especially in the processing and handling of the mail, which is treated like a combat situation. Guys like me and the cat who quit last night, we’re the grunts on the frontline being used as cannon fodder, while the people above us, the supervisors, give ridiculous orders that are determined by people in offices. The other night it looked as if I was going to get to leave early. It was about two in the morning, and some supervisor walks up to me and says, “How long have you been here?” I told her I got there at five in the afternoon (that was nine hours earlier). She says, “Then you can stay until 5:30,” and walks away.

What the fuck kind of company thinks you can work people up to 12 hours a day, for five or six days in a row? But the key is there are so many people working at the post office, especially temporary help this time of year, that even if the system breaks someone down physically, there are others to fill the gap. In combat those people are what is called cannon fodder—random bodies tossed into the fray to either kill or be killed. But in the battle of the post office, where the objective is not winning a war, but delivering the mail, and the mail absolutely must get through, you don’t even have a kill or be killed objective. For the army that is the post office, there is no losing the battle. Anyone on the frontline is expendable. Which means that if your back gets fucked up, or the rest of your body takes a physical beating the likes of which you did not know was possible, then that’s just how the story goes. And did I mention the temp workers like me get no medical benefits?

So, yeah, “I can’t do this.” I’m not sure how many more days I have left in me. I really do want to try and stick it out through the holidays, but I don’t know if that will be possible. I’ve made enough these past two weeks to cover the bills for about a month, so I may just have to be content with that. The lure of money is powerful, but I remind myself of something very important that I realized a while back. Basically, someone asked me why I stuck it out at my last job for seven years, when I was ready to leave after four. I told them it was the pay and the benefits—the “safety net.” Then I realized the contradictory nature of that term. A net is something used to entrap or entangle something else. A net is something hunters and fishers use to catch their prey. It is very difficult to use a net for your “safety” without being caught by it. The only time a safety net is truly for safety is when someone is doing a high-wire or trapeze act. And those people are fucking stupid.

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