I now understand postal rage
By Kevin Fischer
Tuesday, May 29 2007

Going postal: An American English slang term, used as a verb meaning to suddenly become extremely and uncontrollably angry, possibly to the point of violence.

I do not condone violence, but a recent trip to the Greendale Post Office made me pause and feel some sympathy for postal workers who possess a collective reputation of having never attended a Dale Carnegie course.

A customer with a heavy accent was at the counter, and I was next in line. There was only one postal worker on duty at the counter at the time.

The customer asked for a flag.

The puzzled government employee (Yes, I realize that goes without saying) replied, “You want a flag?”

“Yes, flag.”

The customer then proceeded to explain the last set of stamps he bought had flags on them.

“Ohhhhhh,” said the no longer as-confused postal worker. He reached into his drawers, (okay, stop that chuckling) and pulled out a sheet of stamps with American flags.

All better, right?

Uhhh, no.

The postal worker understood, but his customer was now baffled.

“That’s not it, that’s not right,” the customer mumbled.

“What do you mean?” said the employee, who went into a state of agitation in an instant. “You asked for flags. Those are flags.”

“They’re different,” shot back the customer.

“Different…different how?” asked the worker.

These stamps had a different stamp design from the customer’s last set because the previous set was purchased before the rate hike went into effect. As the worker attempted to explain this to Mr. Befuddled, (“Stamps are now 41 cents, they used to be 39 cents”) the line of blue-hairs behind me, the postal worker and I weren’t ready for what was about to come next.

“Stamps are 41 cents? When did that happen?”

(Palm of my hand slaps my forehead).

“Two weeks ago.”



“They’re 41 cents now?”

“Yes, 41 cents.”

The guy obviously doesn’t get CNN.

He then proceeded to confirm his order of a sheet of stamps with the American flags, and pulled out a credit card to pay for them, signed the receipt, and took his stamps.

Story over, right?

Uhhh, no.

The customer now was transformed back into perplexed mode.

He explained that he had two letters at home that needed to be mailed.

Postal worker with eyes rolling in his head looked at him and said the plainly obvious.

“Well now you’ve got stamps to put on the letters you ignoramus!”


I admit.

I added the words, “You ignoramus.” The worker didn’t say that, but you know he had to be thinking it.

“No, no, no,” replied the Rhodes Scholar. The letters he had back home already had the 39-cent stamps on them and he hadn’t mailed them yet. (Why, I have no idea. The genius didn’t fill us in on that).

“Well you can’t mail them,” said the worker.

“I can’t.”

“No, you can’t! You need two cents more on each letter.”


I wasn’t sure if that was a light bulb slowly going on or the poor guy simply realized it was his turn to keep up the scintillating conversation.

“Do you want some two cent stamps?”

“Uhhhhhh, yah.”

“You want two of them?”

“Yah yah.”

“That’ll be four cents.”


Pause continues.

Pause has now become lengthy pause as customer stands motionless.

Oh no, I say to myself.

“I have no money.”

“You have no money?”

“I have no money.”

“Well then you can’t have the stamps.”

“No, I pay for them with card.”

“You want to pay for them with a credit card? You want to charge four cents?”

“Yah, I leave home without any money, ha ha.”

Yep, real funny.

When the customer finally said, “Tank you,” the exasperated worker didn’t even wait until the customer had walked away. He looked at me, as if thanking the Lord Almighty for a new customer and said imploringly, “Can I help you?”

“One stamp,” I answered back without hesitation.

I plunked down 51 cents on the counter. All that waiting allowed me plenty of time to prepare.

The employee couldn’t help but smirk as he gazed at the two quarters and a penny, put the single stamp down, looked up at me and inquired in a semi-sarcastic tone, “You wanna charge that?”

“No, I don’t want to charge it.” I heard the blue hairs waiting behnd me giggle. He placed the stamp on my letter and I offered this before I walked away that brought a chuckle from the postman:

“The day I use a charge card to pay for a postage stamp, just shoot me.”

It was only when I finally got to my car that I realized what I had said to that frustrated postal worker.

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