It used to be you could drop something weighing a pound or two in the mailbox, if you had proper postage, any time it was convenient for you, and go on about your business. Today, for anything above a pound — like a book or a couple of magazines — you either have to have your own postage meter or else, if you use regular old stamps, you have to walk it down to the post office and hand it to a clerk during postal business hours.

So, recently — in a comment impolitically titled “Going Postal” — I offered a couple of suggestions that it seemed to me wouldn’t jeopardize national security.

From Steven Bostick:

As an employee of the United States Postal Service I found your article highly offensive. The term “going postal” is highly offensive. The individuals who have been responsible for loss of life on USPS property were in obvious need of psychological attention. To imply that all postal workers behave in this manner is ridiculous.

The United States Postal Service did implement the meter strip ruling as a response to lunatics such as the Unabomber. The Unabomber problem has not been resolved until the individual arrested for such crimes has been given a fair trial in a court of law. I believe you should have been a little bit more sensitive before ripping the USPS apart for trying to prevent harm to others. Looking forward toward your reply.

From Jonathan Campbell (in a message titled “don’t quit your day job”):

You may be good at picking stocks, but on issues of security you are way off. Keep your comments and opinions to stuff you know about, not something you feel to be a “waste.” If the bomber is willing to wait in line, so should you. It’s nice to know, people care so much, that they are not willing to wait in line at the post office. Obviously, your book isn’t that great, or you would wait in line to deliver it to me, because you know the contents could do me some good. I won’t be checking that one out.

From John Terry:

As far as I know, both UPS and FedEx both have to check their packages also. This requirement was implemented by the FAA, not the Postal Svc. So if you have a gripe, take it to the FAA. I know that it is a stupid requirement, because I have to work the targeted mail every night at the facility I work at. Yes I am a Postal employee and I don’t like it anymore than you. But please give us a break, because we’re not the only ones doing it. You might mention that in a future column. Thanks!

Gee, guys. I’m all for necessary security measures and, by and large, a fan of the USPS. But somebody is not thinking. Either of the suggestions I made would in no way have prevented 17-ounce packages from being examined and X-rayed just as now. And one of the two suggestions would have allowed the USPS to know with 100% as much certainty as today who mailed a particular package — because to get the numbered “registered stamps” you’d have to go to the post office in person, show government ID, get fingerprinted — whatever, I don’t care — but then walk away with 5 or 10 or 20 of these, so you’d only have to go to the post office and stand in line once in a while instead of every damn time you want to mail something that weighed more than a pound.

Richard Moore points out why it can pay to put up with the lines at the post office:

Well, I mailed 15 books and saved $12 each by using USPS rather than FedEx. I invested that $180 in Microsoft right after the Windows 95 crash and tripled it to $540. Then took that money and invested in Intel after the pentium math glitch and doubled it to $1,080. Invested that on your advice in FedEx and doubled it to $2,160. So the delay at the post office was 15 minutes for a net pay rate of $8,640/hour. Based on a 2080 hour work-year, that is a net annual pay of nearly $18 million. Where else could you get such great pay???? Perhaps the US Mail looks just a bit better now!!!!!!!!

Gosh, that’s right. Looked at this way, think how lucrative it would be to have to take all mail in person to the post office.



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