Saturday, July 21, 2012

Leaking Weasels: Part One

Nowadays, when you go to the post office to mail a parcel, they'll ask you if there's anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous in there, but long ago, they didn't care what you had as long as it didn't exude anything. You could slap an address tag around the neck of a dead weasel, and it was good to go, even it if exceeded a uniform thickness of 1/4 inch, which some of your dead mammals will, depending on the circumstances of their demise.

The specific instructions said you could enter such an item as post "as long as no liquid is likely to exude." That in itself is a testament to a faith in our communal institutions that we, cynical and suspicious as we have become, no longer have. Me, I look at an expired ferret, say, and I think: "here is something from which, at some point, liquid is likely to exude." But in times not long gone, people could look at the same weasel and think: "shoot, it'll make it in time."

Of course, back then, you had a pretty good chance of seeing your weasel all the way to its destination before any exuding happened. People were in charge of it. Someone would fling the weasel into a bin for your city, someone in your city would re-fling it into the bin for your neighborhood, your carrier would satchel it up, and just like that, bip bam boom, there would be your deceased weasel lined up all neat in your mailbox, wrapped in a Time magazine, with a soap coupon between its lips.

Stuff happened from time to time but it was a good system, entrusting the mail to people. Even certifiably [what is the word? Ah yes] stupid people could be entrusted to see the mail to its correct destination--I've seen them do it. The only trouble with people, in fact, was their tendency to want pay and medical insurance and frippery like that, and so giant sorting machines the size of football fields were developed to replace the regrettably high number of humans. Now, some robotic arm slaps the wrong barcode on a weasel and before you know it he's looping around the country growing more unattractive by the nanosecond. And the three or four people left in the system now have to allocate a portion of their workdays to apologizing to customers.

We still have an Exudation policy at the post office. We're agin it. Ever since 9/11, whenever an employee noticed a mail item that appeared to be exuding in any way, we were to immediately step away from it and call our HazMat trained employee, Big Mary. Big Mary would come to the fore and invert a plastic mail tub over the exuding item, run a few yards of yellow caution tape around the periphery, and call the local firemen, who were really cute. It was a pretty good system.

But I still think it's sad that we live in an era where evil people are moved to send suspicious white powder through the mail, resulting in the very real danger of a company powdered-donut ban, and when you can't even count on Priority Service to deliver a maggot-free ferret.

To be continued.

56 comments:

  1. What a world. One in which we can't even mail our exuding weasels. Sad, sad times.
    omgosh, Murr, you crack me the hell up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a whole box of expired weasels that I don't know what to do with, now.

      Delete
  2. There's always shrink wrap before mailing, Murr. Then the weasel can circle the globe and only smell really really bad, but without any extruding. What would be do without progress?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But shrink wrap takes all the romance out of a carcass.

      Delete
  3. There's the apocryphal story of the bank in Alaska that was built with bricks that had been mailed to the city because it was cheaper to mail ten thousand separate bricks than it was to have them shipped up there.

    On the other hand, last month it cost me $40 to mail a tin of cookies to Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave sends almond roca overseas and a couple years ago that got to be a pretty expensive declaration of affection.

      I guess this one was more a sarcophagal story.

      Delete
  4. What's the world coming to when you can't even send expired weasels through the post anymore? It puts such a crimp in my holiday gift plans. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. E-weasels are not the same, are they?

      Delete
  5. This is really sad. These days I'm sure we can all think of lots of people who deserve to have whole pallet-loads of dead weasels mailed to them.

    Still, the internet is increasingly making postal mail obsolete. What we need is a way of sending dead weasels via e-mail. Maybe the next upgrade of Gmail will allow you to send them as attachments. Not the exuding ones, though. I don't want to be cleaning nasty stuff out of the inside of my modem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My whole machine has gotten sort of sluggish. You already tried to send me one, didn't you? Didn't you?

      Delete
    2. Dang, didn't you get it? Check to see if your spam folder is exuding.

      Delete
    3. I do see something in there about spanking my weasel, but I'm afraid to open it.

      Delete
  6. I recall reading of a couple of friends who challenged each other to see who could mail the most outrageous thing to the other. I believe these included pumpkins, and may have included a dead weasel or two. They were able to slap that label on the pumpkin and it showed up at its destination within just a few days. Ahhh-the gold old days! Thank you for your pumpkin-toting services, Murr.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the next post will be of interest to you.

      Delete
    2. Honey, ALL of your posts are of interest to me.

      Delete
  7. Weasels eh?
    Well you sure do find words to create the most imaginative yet tricky posts.
    Wonder how amazon's adding to the load at that robot operated plant? Probably got a weasel book or two in the batch!
    So when is iMail coming along? And will it replace email?
    Sticky post issues. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! The robot plant doesn't do parcels. We've still got a chance with those.

      Delete
  8. I like a system that involves calling the local firemen. The only thing better would be if it also involved said firemen having to take off their shirts for some reason. Hubba hubba.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think, from what I've learned at the movies, that it would involve YOU taking YOUR shirt off and telling the firemen that YOU'RE on fire. But I applaud your initiative.

      Delete
  9. I really don't want the Post office to go away. I've always treasured the ability to send letters and packages for a relatively low price, and our postal system is as old as our country. Lets just make it work more efficiently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I may say so, it was working pretty darn well most of the years I was running it--I mean, employed by it. But people don't use it much anymore. I also think we should keep it as a public service. But we might need to subsidize it, which we haven't done since the seventies. You know, taxes. I'm sure the political climate is just right for that.

      Delete
    2. Despite the best efforts of management to muck things up, the USPS is still remarkably efficient. At least the mail carrier can find my house, which is more than either FedEx or UPS seem capable of doing.

      When mailing dead weasels, be sure to hand address the labels. Handwriting is harder for the robots to read so it means a few humans have to be retained for those rare times when the scanner is baffled.

      Delete
    3. I agree that it works well for the most part, but people don't really want to pay the full freight. And why so many people think it's an easy job at the counter is beyond me, especially when they say this right after they themselves have thrown a beaut of a hissy fit for the postal worker to deal with or have behaved badly in line.
      I have clients who mail envelopes to me addressed upside down and backwards - no lie - and they get to me.

      Delete
    4. Nan, the scanner is Never Baffled. The scanner may be momentarily confused and default to Oklahoma City for a few rounds of Bar Code Bingo. But it will never say "I don't know." The scanner is proud.

      Delete
    5. DallasD, I was always proud of my PR skills whenever I needed to use them, which is less often as a carrier in charge of her own route. I should have been at the counter, but then I would have drunk even more.

      Delete
  10. I am thinking that ferrets probably see the postal changes as progress. I suddenly want to seLL a new shirt design at our store with the words,
    "We Sell Weasels"

    What is the typical postage for a medium sized ferret?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is entirely dependent on weasel weight in ounces, which can be expected to decline over time.

      Delete
  11. One of my lads ordered a used camp stove from California (EBay) to give to his bro last Christmas. It arrived with its fuel canister not only attached but full of camp stove fuel (kerosene). Not only might that puppy have exuded, it could have exploded! So somehow a potential bomb made it through both of our postal services. No one ferreted that one out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Weasels??? Now why would anyone want a weasel, especially a dead one? Guess I am not "hick" enough to know!
    Mail used to be much easier, I do know that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the weasels were smaller, before artifical hormones entered the picture.

      Delete
  13. Hilarious (as always) And catching up as it took weeks to replace our virusly murdered computer. The post about the elderly smoochers particularly struck my fancy. Probably because I'm one myself in spite of my spouses regular opoosition to excessive "public" displays of affection... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe that's a way of retrieving data from a dead computer that won't cough up. Send it through the mail until it starts leaking.

      Delete
  14. I, for one, LOVE the postal system and I am saddened to see it slowly being relegated to delivering catalogs. I still have in my possession letters addressed to my grandfather dating from 1886 and the quality of the handwriting from people with perhaps an eighth grade education should be a required addition to every child's schooling. The ephemeral quality of today's "mail" is going to become a real problem with tomorrow's geneaologists. Oh, well, maybe "they" can make a video game out of it. Anyone for flinging deceased weasels at the target?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Believe it or not, I love the mail system since I was wee. I used to try to help the mailman get the letters through our door slot, which was at the bottom of the door. He'd poke one through and I'd tug on it. Only after I started delivering did I realize he wanted to put them through a few at a time. That way he doesn't have to get the flap open every time; he just slides the new ones underneath the ones that are sticking in there. Some help I was.

      Delete
  15. This really takes me back. No one's sent me a dead ferret in years. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's sad. Put your address out here and see what you get.

      Delete
  16. Well, at least I don't have to worry about getting a bunch of junk ferrets in my mailbox. Right? RIGHT?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or ferret junk. I did once open a mailbox to find a no longer viable possum already in it. I didn't know what to do. No one was home. I tucked the real mail right along its side. Probably not good judgment.

      Delete
  17. Great. NOW how am I supposed to sell dead weasels on eBay!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was going to say express mail, but you really don't want anything expressed, either, do you?

      Delete
  18. Recently I was at the post office to pick up two packages I had sent to myself from another city. Both of them marked FRAGILE and everything in them was precious.

    As I and another customer waited at the window, we watched a man tossing packages to one or another container. Wham. Bam.

    We looked at each other and said simultaneously: "Hope that's not mine." Nevertheless, my packages were fine. But next time I'm writing fragile bigger, and every side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really don't want to think of the number of times I saw a clerk carefully set a FRAGILE parcel down in the bottom of a bin and then hurl safes into it.

      Delete
  19. I had an emu(from which most of the meat had been removed) mailed to me a few years ago. It arrived in a very large, slightly soggy box by a smiling mail lady. No questions asked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have asked any questions either. Sometimes we're better off with the mystery. By the way, I cherish the fact that I have a friend who has emus mailed to him.

      Delete
  20. Cracking up here over the post and the comments! And wondering what you can possibly follow it up with in part 2 ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part two: in which we get more personal.

      Delete
  21. The saddest day for me was when they informed me I could no longer send brown paper packages tied up with string... because they were one of my favourite things. There's nothing quite like deceased weasels in bondage. Packing tape just doesn't have the same aesthetic ambiance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And now nobody even HAS string anymore. It's a damn shame, is what it is.

      Delete
  22. Ah, Murr! I commend this post to The House. But, as someone with no small experience with badgers (a large member of the weasel family), I can vouchsafe that they're too big to fit through a letterbox. Not that it stops them trying. Roth x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indigo, I don't think you can even have a small experience with badgers. It's kind of a large, flat member, isn't it?

      Delete
    2. I think the word I'd use is ingenious. But no, not flat. Unless you had to do that to get them through the mail sorter.

      Delete
    3. I think the word I'd use is ingenious. But no, not flat. Unless you had to do that to get them through the mail sorter.

      Delete
  23. My daughter sent a package to Ukraine for my 60th. Six months later it arrived back home having visited several countries, none of which was Ukraine. Normally it takes three weeks for a letter or card and six weeks for a small package.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ack! The postal fairies didn't line up. One of the things I really do like about our postal service is that no matter how ridiculously long it takes to mail a letter (like the ones that show up with 50-year-old postmarks) we have to deliver them anyway. Can't shove 'em under the rug and pretend they didn't happen.

    ReplyDelete
  25. At least almond roca doesn't exude.

    ReplyDelete