Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas, Day 1

On Sending Packages to Loved Ones: Going Postal

Surprisingly enough, the only time I ever have the urge to kill strangers is when I stand in line at the post office during the holidays. OK, not really kill, I just want to vanquish them – vanquishing is a lost art, really.

It’s just, as I stand there, watching the precious moments of my life tick away while the postal employees repeatedly disappear into that back room for minutes at time only to reemerge to assist the four idiots ahead of me who have shown up to mail unwrapped items without having boxes, packing materials, or tape because they assume it’s the post office’s job to provide them with these necessities, I get this very vivid image of myself standing triumphantly atop a heap of squirming, broken bodies with a scimitar in one hand and a human ear in the other.

The reason I say this is surprising is because it seems hard to believe, even for me, that there aren’t more situations in my life that arouse a desire to do violence upon the general public, holidays or no.

Yes, I’m well aware of the stereotype of going postal. But that has more to do with postal employees themselves going on shooting sprees. What I’m saying is that maybe we should consider “going postal” as synonymous with “self-defense.” If I, an upstanding and not-very-homicidal American citizen from an intact nuclear family, can be pushed to the limits of my endurance after a mere 19 minutes in the post office, what hope do postal employees have for not getting twenty-five-years-to-life? It’s a miracle that each and every employee of the U.S. postal service isn’t a cannibal by the time they hit retirement.

The reason for this? Most people sending packages at Christmas time are hateful narcissistic slime. I am continually amazed at the demonstrations of oblivious, entitled behavior on the part of people sending things out at the holidays. Sometimes I want to just step out of line and say: “Ladies and Gentlemen, may I direct your attention to the man mailing a glass jar filled with marbles who has just expressed shock that he’s being charged extra for bubble wrap! Yes, and now he’s wondering what’s taking so long and why everyone is glaring at him! Let’s give him a round of especially slow and sarcastic applause for being the most self-absorbed jackass of the decade!”

Here's my suggestion: let us, the American people, pledge to do better this holiday season. Let's redefine “going postal” to mean this: “I have properly prepared my package to the best of my ability. I know the zip code to which I’m sending this package. I have a job to which I need to return immediately, and I understand that other people’s time is as precious as my own.”

We should encourage all Americans to regard package mailing the way we regard auditioning for "American Idol." You should be prepared. Professional. Brilliant. People should gawk at the taping job you’ve done, at the elegance of your address label, at the civility of your dismount as you depart the postal counter after a mere 45 seconds. If we could all do our part, yes, Virginia, there need not be a shooting spree this Christmas.