persona non sequitur

a review of media by a slightly jaded baby boomer.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


A reader who only wants to be known as "avrgjane" wrote to inquire about the postal shootings of yore, and was it still dangerous to work there? I write here that it is no longer so dangerous to work at the post office. Safer than a mall where people can come in with a gun and begin blasting away. That seems to be the new "postal": "mallrage".

The reason for a large amount of Post Office violence has vanished--the Vietnam Era veterans have retired or died, they they were the big issue. Bluntly, there was a period of time you could become a supervisor in the post office simply because you were a veteran. And a lot of these men were still in the grip of the war, what with Delayed Stress symptoms and the need to pressure others. And the point in time where the shootings were happening, the post office often had one supervisor for ten people. A bit extreme. And people who are in charge like to prove their worth. They annoyed people. They found loopholes for discipline. They filed excessive paperwork. They harassed.

And some of the people harassed were veterans themselves, and they owned guns.

And it was a viscous circle that fed onto itself.

I came across a memo in 1991 or thereabouts, being thrown away in the trash, and where I got a lot of my insight into the post office and environs, and it was from the Veteran's Administration. It was addressing the shootings, and felt that it ought to be understood, it said, that linking veterans and the postal violence as being hand in hand was not going to be accepted by the Veteran's Administration, and other situational labels would have to be looked at. Why did the Veteran's Administration need to send out a memo like that? Did they notice what other people noticed?

Very few Vietnam era veterans remain. These days vets will need to undergo drug testing. Back then, people were arriving and they had needle marks on their arms, would show up intoxicated at the beginning of the day and would talk to themselves (nowadays they have cell phones). One guy, a janitor, got into serious hot water by cleaning the women's bathrooms and try to engage the people in the stalls into conversations. He used to laugh very strangely and talk about "the hand grenade".

Things are quieter. What remains of oddballs in the USPS are the usual chaff that all business staffs have: a few flakes that spoil it for others.

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