Episode 632: Ooh, a Treat!

On the Overthinking It Podcast we tackle sending and receiving mail to celebrate the United States Postal Service.

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink the phenomenon of sending and receiving mail in order to pay respect to the United States Postal Service.

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2 Comments on “Episode 632: Ooh, a Treat!”

  1. John C Member #

    The example I used to use out by me is that, without the dedicated postal employees, the majority of my peers probably wouldn’t have gotten into the colleges they wanted, because they used to stay open late when they knew there was a deadline somewhere. But my new favorite story is that they’ll send me a periodic “mail burrito” from my Post Office Box, since I’m having quarantine-induced car trouble.

    I don’t know my carrier anymore, unfortunately. One passed away and I didn’t think we had a permanent replacement until “Jack” left notes announcing his retirement. Now, I have no clue who it is; mail just shows up at weird hours. But I occasionally remember to buy snack bars and leave them for the carrier, since that sneaks through the USPS guidelines of what they can easily accept and hopefully helps them manage a long day. I’ve been lax in dropping off thank-yous and gifts at the Post Office, though, since the people I knew well moved on.

    On book-rate, I actually had a professor who sent himself all of his books when they were repainting his office, on the theory that the price and the slower speed made the USPS an ideal form of short-term storage. I don’t think it worked, because you can’t expect anything to take weeks to arrive when you drop it off a few miles away, but it was still an interesting idea.

    If the Postal Savings System hadn’t been gutted, if they were allowed to continue providing address validation services, if the proposals to have the USPS run a broadband ISP had gone anywhere, if the USPS wasn’t required in 2006 to fund seventy-five years of pensions, and if a heavy investor in UPS and FedEx wasn’t appointed to lead its biggest competitor (that, as Matt mentioned, they also need to survive) in 2020, it’d be a very different landscape. The only place I’ve done business with that had nearly the same kind of aggressive helpfulness is probably Trader Joe’s, and the USPS doesn’t have the weird appropriative “tiki bar” iconography to make you worry that you’re supporting the wrong people. Sometimes they’re too busy to help, but I’ve also felt trapped while an eager clerk crunched the numbers on basically every combination of shipping methods to save me two cents when I just asked for an extra stamp for a heavy envelope. They’re seriously good people, there…

    I do need to start sending out more mail, though. I’m half-considering if I have the commitment to join one of those prison pen-pal programs, since that potentially touches on a few things at once. But if I’m going to start putting it off after a few months, it’s not worth it.

    Oh, and the consensus on chainsaws appears to be that you should either use an old chain (if there’s one available) or replace the chain for your neighbor, since pressure-treated wood is probably going to dull it. And mask up, obviously. Creosote and nails are apparently where you get into trouble.


  2. Amanda Jordá OTI Staff #

    Great idea with the snack bars! I left my mail carrier a box of gloves and masks a little while ago, would definitely recommend anyone who can to do the same. I never knew my mail carrier until I moved to my current apartment. I used to come home and check the mail right around the time he was there so now we chat whenever we bump into each other.

    The “Ooh, a treat!” feeling is so familiar to me! I became a little bit of a magazine subscription hoarder too and began online shopping a lot more when I moved to a small town years ago. I felt so disconnected from the world and getting things in the mail always felt like receiving a small piece of the world I felt cut off from…


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