After a couple hundred years it just stopped
Maybe I was holding something important to someone that they’d been waiting on
The following is excerpted from a recent paid-subscriber Hell World which you can find here. Please subscribe for free, or if you can, chip in to support this newsletter. Thanks for reading.
The latest Hell World features an interview with Jared Holt of Right Wing Watch about the imminent arrival of the first QAnon supporter in Congress.
Earlier this week I sent out to paid subscribers this interview with Parick Hruby in which I tried to figure out what the fuck is going on with college football right now. Hruby is a dogged advocate for reforming college sports and eliminating the abusive concept of amateurism that prevents athletes from accessing labor rights that most of the rest of us enjoy.
A few months back in this edition of Hell World I checked in with a postal carrier about the increasingly grim conditions he and his fellow workers had been subjected to during the pandemic. You can read the first of our interviews here. Since then our man has written another widely viral thread about how terribly things are going.
Today he’s written an exclusive piece for Hell World about where things stand as the election inches closer and the Postmaster General continues his slash and burn campaign.
It’s tough getting people to give a shit about the Postal Service. I know firsthand as someone who’s collected somewhere north of half a million bucks in my career to give a shit, and even I still find it hard on a day to day basis. There’s nothing “woe is me” about that though. You sort of want your job to be forgotten when the only time you’re memorable to people is if you fuck something up. The problem is, between Covid-19 and the election in front of us, USPS might be as relevant as it’ll ever be right now, and we’re reaching the point where we can’t afford to ignore the corruption and sabotage plaguing the agency.
I know. It sounds like another hashtag-resistance outcry. Another agency in despair because of America’s First Bad President, and only you can save us, and all you’ve gotta do is buy some stamps, like we’re hosting a bake sale and we’re two rice krispie squares away from paying for Blair’s first round of chemo. But with the Postal Service losing a few billion bucks a year this isn’t a crisis we can buy our way out of. And the way it directly threatens our democracy makes it a hell of a task to vote our way out of too. Especially now that the entire infrastructure of our country’s vote-by-mail system is in the hands of another stooge in a long line of partisan stooges.
A few months ago our Postmaster General Megan Brennan retired. She was a postal lifer, and got a lot of respect for that, but she was also a pretty ineffectual bureaucrat whose primary accomplishment as PMG seemed to be ignoring Donald Trump’s temper tantrums. It seemed to really bother the guy that he had no official authority over USPS, so pretty much every time The Washington Post ran a mean story about Donald, he’d publicly scream at Brennan to jack up Amazon package prices to get back at Jeff Bezos. To the bitter end of her career she just...ignored him. She was the Pelé of that shit.
That’s where Louis DeJoy enters as our new Postmaster General. It’s pretty useless to throw around the word “swamp” anymore in politics, but sometimes the word just fits. DeJoy is a lifelong Republican, a Trump mega-donor/fundraiser, and a high ranking RNC official who also once owned and operated a regional logistics company, which is about all the room a weasel needs these days to pretend they’re qualified to run the largest logistics operation on the planet. It’s not that it’s unheard of for USPS to hire outside its ranks, it’s just that I also don’t expect to become manager of the St. Louis Cardinals anytime soon just because I bought a few tickets and once coached my brother’s little league team. Oh, and did I mention DeJoy owns more than $40 million worth of stock in companies that compete with USPS? Of course he does. Nothing matters, see.
All of the potential angles for corruption make DeJoy’s aims pretty tough to figure out. He’s a small market conservative from the private sector running a massive government agency. He’s a Trump ally running the agency responsible for ballots during an election year. He also has a direct financial interest in seeing us fail. Take your pick. You’re probably right no matter what. And judging by the chaos he’s unleashed into USPS in just his first two months, “all of the above” might be your best bet.
See, up until just two months ago, every letter carrier, clerk, mail handler, truck driver, etc, worked under one pretty simple philosophy: every piece, every address, every day. Everyone in the chain of custody for mail made sure every piece got as far along in the system as it could, and if it made it to my hands, in my office, it was getting delivered. That’s how I’ve done it for my career, how the guys who have been doing it for forty years have always done it, and that’s literally how Ben Fucking Franklin’s guys did it. You can almost hear Aaron Sorkin’s orgasm as he punches up the Bradley Whitford speech about the majesty of it all.
But two months ago is also when that abruptly stopped. After a couple hundred years, it just...stopped. On the ground floor, there’s a lot of arguing about who is ordering what, and what’s going to be permanent, and what’s going to be a trial run, but at the end of the day, the result is obvious: I go into my job, every single morning, and don’t deliver hundreds of pieces of available mail that used to get delivered. The only reason given is some vague nonsense about “operational efficiency” and “cost savings.”
We’re not just talking about your Subway Coupons and AT&T ads. We’re talking everything. Election mailers, ballots, paychecks, social security checks, unemployment benefits, tax documents, business correspondence, your grandma’s birthday card, Amazon parcels, that DIY crap you won’t stop buying on Etsy, fucking medication. All of it just left behind. It didn’t make an arbitrary cutoff time decided by some simpleton who bought the job a couple weeks ago, and he knows best, so fuck your nitroglycerin, gramps. Hope today’s not the day the ol’ ticker gives out.
You know that old motto-that-isn’t-actually-our-motto? The whole “Neither rain, nor snow…” spiel about getting the mail to you? We actually took that pretty damn seriously. Like I said, I’ve worked the better part of a decade for this agency, and I can count on zero hands how many times I’ve personally withheld delivery of mail without a goddamn good reason. I’ve jumped fences, climbed walls, MacGyver’d my way past broken locks, outrun dogs, split my pants in a downpour and gone for another five hours anyway, all because maybe, very possibly, I was holding something important to someone that they’d been waiting on.
And like I said earlier, it’s hard to pick the angle DeJoy is going for here. He wouldn’t be the first management type at USPS to fuck up and forget to ask literally even one letter carrier if his ideas would actually result in any more efficiency. But if you’re asking what the most obvious reason for all of this is? Well, he is the first Postmaster General appointed by a president who was concurrently insisting voting by mail is a dangerous, fraudulent system. And he is the first Postmaster General to shift all of our delivery operations to delay hundreds of residual pieces of mail, regardless of class, during the middle of a pandemic in an election year. And I can safely say that that pile of mail I’m leaving behind has absolutely included election mailers, including forms for residents to get their ballots mailed to them.
So I don’t know, I’m just a dipshit mailman, but maybe the guy who bought his way into a job, whose loyalty is therefore tied to the president who he bought it from, and who therefore might want him to continue to be president, didn’t just come up with the “fuck our two hundred fifty year philosophy on timely deliveries during this election year” by sheer coincidence. Maybe he’s just counting on all of us just not giving a shit. I really do hate to be the guy to tell you to write to your congressperson, but this is one of those things where there actually is political machinery to fix the issue. DeJoy can absolutely be fired by his board, so long as that board isn’t filled entirely with party sycophants. But if you’re going to reach out to your reps to encourage them to act I’ve gotta recommend you use email. At least as long as Louis DeJoy is around.
Read more about the USPS situation as it develops from Letter Carriers for Antifa Chapter President @DingusJMcGee on Twitter here.