Going Postal: Day 14

darthvaderstamp.jpgDay 14: I’m the King of Wrap!!!

Yesterday was one of those days where I had a full day’s worth of work to do before I went in to action, but I had to cram it all in to a few hours. The result was I never had time to eat before heading to the post office; and so for the second time in a week, I ate at Jack in the Box. Instead of getting the ultimate cheeseburger meal, I opted for the chicken strips because…well…you know…it’s chicken and that’s so much more healthy. Sure, the chicken is breaded and deep-fried…but it’s chicken dammit!!!. All of this left me doing two things I swore I would never do again. The first being eating fast food, and the second being eating fast food while I’m driving.

So, there I was, trying to drive my car while dipping my chicken strips into Jack’s barbeque sauce, wondering what the night would have in store for me. As it turns out, the universe decided to play a cruel joke on me. First of all, it looked as if last night would be my first opportunity to get out of there after only doing an eight-hour tour of duty. But right around 12:30 in the morning, with only an hour to go, someone came looking for me with a new mission. I look at every assignment I get at the post office as a mission—some sort of adventure of life-altering proportions—which is part of how I get through this crap. As I sit here and write this, I realize what a great idea it would be to have a reality show about postal workers (even though I’m sure the best parts would violate all sorts of federal laws), because last night was the night in terms of ridiculous bullshit.

Yesterday, I went off a bit on how much I don’t like people, and how poorly some people prepare their parcels for being sent in the mail. As reward for that rant, the cosmos aligned in such a way that I was sent on “Operation: Re-wrap.” “Re-wrap” is what the post office calls it when a package is so badly damaged they have to do more than apply a little bit of tape to ensure it makes the rest of its journey in one piece. Maybe you’ve received a letter or a parcel, either in a plastic bag or shrink-wrapped, with a letter apologizing for how fucked up it is? Well, that item went through re-wrap, and last night I was the guy handling that duty.

Working re-wrap you get an incredible insight into how various people prepare their mail—not just the grandma in Iowa sending her grandson a present wrapped in toilet paper. No, you get see major corporations trying to save a few bucks by sending thirty-pound bricks wrapped in steel, and shoved into a box that can only hold ten pounds. You get to see large Tupperware bowls filled with fudge, stuffed into a rectangular box not meant to hold round bowls. You get to see $50 worth of vintage quarters placed in a large paper envelope with no tape to reinforce it. You get to see all kinds of ludicrous nonsense as the packages arrive at rewrap, tattered and messed up. And it’s up to a re-wrap specialist to fix this shit. And all the time I’m doing this very important mission, I’m wondering if people fuck as irresponsibly as they package their mail. Seriously. I’m going to say that over 90% of the parcels I had to perform surgery on were the results of people preparing them poorly. We’re talking packages prepared by idiots with no real forethought about the consequences of what they’re doing—a lot like someone having sex, and using luck as their preferred form of birth control.

I was feeling like Rutger Hauer’s character in Blade Runner last night—I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. The most common problem seemed to be people placing a small object inside a container that is too big, and not using any padding. This might not like seem like that big of a problem, but it’s like using a condom that is too big—sooner or you later your joint is going to slip out, and you run the risk of a major catastrophe. Now, I’ve never had the problem of a condom being too big, but I’ve had the experience of using ones that were too small. And when you stuff a package into a container that isn’t meant to host something so large, it will fight to break free, and under the right circumstances—either frantic mail handling or intense fucking—that package may break out of its confines. And again, you may be forced to deal with unforeseen circumstances.

At this point, I should admit that I haven’t gotten laid in a long time, so my mind is on sex far more than usual, and usually it’s on my mind all the time. Plus, you throw into the mix this posse of hot Asian chicks I work with, and suddenly everything takes on a sexual context. Luckily, last night some of my burning desire was curbed by an earlier confrontation with a co-worker who looked just like my friend Ted Pirro in drag. Now, just yesterday I was also writing about people with poor penmanship, and used Ted as an example. Next thing you know, I’m working with a drag-queen version of him, and it was gruesome. She was nice enough and all, but she freaked me out.

Anyway, getting back to my mission of re-wrap…I spent over three hours performing emergency surgery, and when I left there were still at least fifty or more packages in need of triage. Only a few had “fragile” or “handle with care” stamped on them, and none had the “packed by a retard” stamp. And that’s not to say I’m making fun of the mentally challenged, because I’m really making fun of people too fucking stupid to know how to package mail. Standing there for three hours, I was so tempted to take down the address of whoever sent the package, and then track them down and monkey-whoop them within an inch of their life. Then I would tape them up with clear strapping tape—dispensed from a busted dispenser—and then shrink wrap them using a machine that burns your finger tips. All the while I would be screaming at them like John Goodman in The Big Lebowski—“Do you see what happens when you don’t properly package your mail?! Do you see what happens when you don’t properly package your mail?!”

The bright side of the night was I got my first pay check. It was tough to get excited, because I was being stabbed in the shoulder with a hot dagger wielded by a postal gremlin—these are the invisible creatures that physically and mentally attack postal workers. But what was cool was seeing the reaction of one of my co-workers to getting his four-figure check (that’s not including the numbers to the right of the decimal point). This cat is a Cuban refugee who made the trek to America in a rowboat. He was earning $2 a month managing a farm in Cuba, and was forced to steal to keep his family fed. Looking at doing time in prison, he fled the country. At least that’s the story he told me. Maybe the motherfucker is really a liar, and he actually comes from Mexico. But even if his story of sharks circling his tiny rowboat, and oppressive life under the thumb of Castro is a lie, I’m going to believe it, because it makes me feel better about all that I have—postal gremlin attacks not withstanding.

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