Tag Archives: postal service

Sealed with a lick

You know what’s disgusting? Licking envelopes to seal them shut. Who came up with such a gross way of performing a ridiculously mundane task? It’s a good thing that we rarely send out actual mail anymore, because I can’t imagine living twenty or thirty years ago, having to take care of actual correspondence with physical papers, being forced to lick a strip of glue just to seal my envelopes shut.


And stamps too. You used to have to lick stamps. I’m getting physically ill just thinking about all of this licking going on. Here, I’m going to send you a letter. Lick. Lick. Why do so many bodily fluids have to be involved? It’s like, sticker technology has been around for a while. How much cheaper or more efficient was it really, instead of printing stamps and envelopes with a layer of sticker, to manufacture them with a thin strip of yellow glue?

How did that meeting go down where they decided on the first generation of lick-it envelopes? “Hey everybody, I’ve got a great idea for a new type of envelope. We’ll somehow get some glue and dry it right on the flap. When you want to close it, you just take your tongue and moisten everything up with your own spit. Then you mail your letter and your spit to wherever it’s supposed to go.”

I can’t understand how such a boneheaded idea not only made it past the drawing board, but actually became the standard for both envelopes and stamps. It’s like, everybody remembers doing it, and you’d get that nasty glue taste in your mouth afterward. You know what that tastes like? It tastes like glue. It’s fucking chemicals that you’re putting in your mouth, and then you swallow them. Nasty.

Like I said, this generation is beyond fortunate that we don’t have to deal with such antiquated technology. But it’s still around. Once every five years or so, I run out of envelopes, and so I have to put on my jacket and walk over to Rite Aid to buy another twenty-five pack. Usually it’s no big deal, like I said, the glue standard is thankfully no longer the standard. They’ve got these adhesive strips that automatically stick, so there’s no need to have a make-out session with a piece of paper.

But the last time I went, I accidentally brought home some of the old-fashioned relics. How did this happen? Did a case of glue envelopes get lost somewhere in the back, and now they were like, whatever, just sell them, like they’re just regular envelopes? I went back to demand a refund, but when it was my turn at the register, I realized that the whole pack only cost like fifty-seven cents, and so while I was still super pissed off, I didn’t really feel like getting into it with a cashier that probably had no idea that we ever had to live with such primitive pieces of paper in the first place.

It just goes counter to everything we’re taught as human beings. “Honey, don’t put that in your mouth,” our parents are telling us from an early age. Don’t lick the walls. Stop trying to put your tongue inside the electric socket. Stop eating dirt. But then it’s like, here, let me show you how to send a letter. Just lick, lick, lick, the more spit the better, and then share all of your slimy germs throughout the entire US Postal Service.”

Now I’m just really pissed off. I can’t even say anything that I haven’t already said. But I can think of like a million better ways to close envelopes. Tape. That’s much better. Glue sticks. Why couldn’t they just use glue sticks? Staples. Stickers. Melted wax. Come on, why did it have to be spit-glue? Half glue, half spit. One hundred percent disgusting.

Man, I didn’t expect to get this fired up. I’m just so surprised that the previous generation was so dumb. Thanks for the looming debt crisis. And years of inherited political gridlock. And climate change. Also, stamps and envelopes. You don’t go around licking random pieces of paper with glue on them. Period. Yuck.

I hate the United States Postal Service

I’ve been waiting for this package for forever. I ordered something from Amazon, but I didn’t realize that the product I purchased was sold from a third-party, from somewhere in China. I got an email one day in broken English informing me that my tracking number could be plugged in on the China Post web site.


So I dug in my heels and prepared for a long wait. I mean, it’s China, it’s like on the other side of the planet. It boggles my mind how we’re able to send things even across our own country, but from China? Man, I buy one item, what kind of process is that like, getting that one item from China to New York?

Does it go on a boat? On a plane? And then there’s the whole question of taxes, of customs, I don’t know, I’m sure that the system works, because stuff comes from China all the time. What doesn’t work, and this I’m all too familiar with, is the United States Postal Service. It’s terrible.

Talk about low-hanging fruit, complaining about the Postal Service is almost not fair. It’s like written into their charter or something, that in addition to never stopping for rain or sleet or snow, they also have to make the most routine pickups and deliveries as maddeningly impossible as they can. I’ve had problems with the Postal Service in the past, and I’ve vowed never again, but every once in a while you don’t have a choice.

It’s the default option. I didn’t specifically choose for my most recent package to be shipped via the USPS, but when I plugged that tracking number into the China Post’s web site, it eventually told me that it was located in some sorting center in New York. OK, well that’s something, I thought to myself, at least my package and I are in the same country. It should only be a matter of time before it shows up at my door.

But then a week passed. And then a month. I’d go on to the China Post web site and enter the tracking number, but the New York sorting center was the last information it gave. I tried the USPS web site, and much to my delight, it recognized the tracking number. Apparently the Postal Service attempted to deliver my package on October 15, but nobody was there, so they left it at the Post Office.

I clicked on an option to schedule a redelivery for the 25th. That date came and went without any package. That Monday I figured I’d drop by the branch, see if maybe they had it at the office. Actually going to the Post Office, it’s a last resort, you’re only there because everything else you’ve tried has gone repeatedly wrong.

I opened the doors and the place was jam packed with bodies, a line that had nowhere to go, so it just kind of started snaking in on itself, like I had to ask several people to move and reposition themselves just so I could join them at the very end. And even with four tellers actively helping customers, it seemed as if no progress was being made at all.

I tried to mentally prepare myself for a long wait. I took out my phone, started reading the paper. Still, I couldn’t help but feel my pulse accelerate every time I took stock of my life, standing here on this line, it was getting close to an hour here, every ten minutes or so someone ahead of me or behind me would verbally announce their frustration, a whispered, “Come on!” or an, “Unbelievable,” all laced with several grunts, sighs, these general noises of being totally pissed off yet completely unable to do anything about it.

When I finally got to the window, I told a guy wearing a “Steve” name tag about my problem. He told me to hold on, and then disappeared somewhere in the back for maybe fifteen minutes. He eventually resurfaced, shaking his head, telling me to write down my name and number, that he’d give me a call when they found it.

I never got a call. I came the next day and repeated the same routine. After explaining my situation to someone else, I was told to wait by the side for a supervisor. It’s not just the waiting that got to me, it’s the waiting that’s punctuated by five or ten seconds of ridiculous instructions. Step to the side. Give me your address. Wait here. When I finally spoke to the man in charge, the best he could do for me was hold up his hands in confusion and apologize.

What could I do? I voiced my frustration, I explained how long I’d been waiting, and yeah, the guy acted genuinely sympathetic, but what could he do? What could any more complaining do? I was beat by a faceless institution, a mail delivery service fueled by high wait times and general incompetence. I guess I could have stood there and chewed him out for a little longer, I mean, he wasn’t acting defiant or anything. But would I get my package in the end?

No, so now I have to file a claim and hope that I get my money back. What a waste. How absurd is it that I can buy something from across the world only to have that delivery totally botched right at my doorstep? It’s got to be somewhere, right? Was it delivered to the wrong house? Is it buried in the back of some truck somewhere? I have no idea. I’ll never figure it out. All I know is that, going forward, I’ll pay whatever it takes to make sure that USPS stays far, far away from my stuff.

Every once in a while I’ll hear something in the news about the Postal Service, how it’s going bankrupt, how without assistance from Congress they’re going to have to cancel Saturday delivery or even fold up all together. Normally I’d be like, come on, let’s get our act together. But seriously, just shut it down. What a waste. Quasi-government run operations like the Postal Service only exist for groups like the Tea Party to point at and rail about the government’s inability to get anything done. Enough wasting everybody’s time and money on the USPS. Just let UPS and FedEx take over completely.