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"YOU EXIST ONLY TO REDUCE OVERTIME"

A story about working for the United States Postal Service
posted by curious nu on Sep 26, 2014 - 57 comments

the iconic mailbox

In 1915, dissatisfied with the many competing designs for rural mailboxes, the US Post Office Department decided to specify its own box. The result, designed by postal engineer Roy Joroleman, was the iconic tunnel mailbox. Unpatented and easily manufacturable, it would be become ubiquitous along America's roadsides and would often serve as a blank canvas for homeowners' artistic expression. [more inside]
posted by We had a deal, Kyle on Jul 21, 2014 - 53 comments

How Obama can save USPS and ding check-cashing joints

...yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives. What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans... a way to deliver needed amenities to the nearly 68 million Americans—over one-quarter of U.S. households—who have limited or no access to financial services. Instead of banks, these mostly low-income individuals use check-cashing stores, pawnshops, payday lenders, and other unscrupulous financial services providers who gouged their customers to the tune of $89 billion in interest and fees in 2012. - The Post Office Should Just Become a Bank
posted by beisny on Jan 29, 2014 - 114 comments

"This line of reasoning merely received a laugh from the clerk."

In 2000, Improbable Research sent a variety of regulation-violating items through the mail to see what would make it.
posted by Pope Guilty on Jan 8, 2014 - 52 comments

INTERNET 1897: A Series of Pneumatic Tubes, Some of Which Contain Cats

Between 1897 and 1953, the New York City post office used a system of pneumatic tubes to move up to 30% of its mail around the city. Among the first things sent whizzing across Manhattan during the inauguration of the system: a black cat. Via the links in that Atlantic article, you can find other strange aspects to the story. For example, there was a pneumatic subway in use in NYC by 1870 — The Beach Pneumatic Transit covered an entire block for three years!
posted by not_on_display on Oct 8, 2013 - 28 comments

Fake Real Stamps and Real Fake Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service prints more than 20 billion stamps a year, the vast majority of which are perfect. However, tiny errors can make even humble 1-cent stamps worth many times more to collectors (or philatelists, if you're feeling formal). The most famous of these is perhaps the Inverted Jenny, which features a biplane flying upside down. Only 100 of the misprinted 24-cent airmail stamps issued in 1918 were found, and one can fetch nearly a million dollars at auction, or even appear in a Florida ballot box (that one was fake). [more inside]
posted by Etrigan on Oct 7, 2013 - 19 comments

Mail Covers for everybody.

Concerned about privacy and government surveillance? Not even snail-mail is safe: With Mail Isolation Control and Tracking, the US Postal Service is now photographing the exterior of every piece of paper mail in the United States, and storing the data indefinitely.
posted by anemone of the state on Jul 3, 2013 - 100 comments

I have a crazy friend who says we dont need zipcodes...is he CRAZY?

On July 1, 1963, The US Post Office introduced the five-digit ZIP Code with a series of PSAs broadcast on national TV. The Atlantic looks at a new report [PDF] that details the history of the now $9.5 billion a year product and its current state of affairs.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Apr 25, 2013 - 64 comments

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers..

The United States Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting in August. The move is expected to save $2 billion annually, which will no doubt help fix their imaginary pension problem. [more inside]
posted by entropicamericana on Feb 6, 2013 - 208 comments

A Great Package Deal

The US Postal Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Parcel Post by renaming it "Standard Post". [more inside]
posted by Knappster on Jan 26, 2013 - 44 comments

Henceforward Shall Be Free

For a stamp celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, designer Gail Anderson turned to a printing technique of the period, the classic wood types of Hatch Show Print (previously).
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 20, 2013 - 7 comments

You were once wild here. Don't let them tame you. Isadora

The USPS issued new stamps commemorating four American dancers, including Isadora Duncan, for Dance Day last week. A group of Duncan dancers gave an impromptu performance at Dupont Circle In DC in honor of the event. The 135 anniversary of Duncan's birth and the 85th anniversary of her death are both being commemorated this year. Although Isadora has been called the Mother of Modern Dance, she is often remembered for her unconventional life and death as much as her art. [more inside]
posted by Isadorady on Aug 13, 2012 - 6 comments

Goodbye Newman.

In a draft document obtained by the Washington Post (print version), the United States Post Office proposes cutting 120,000 jobs, losing an additional 100,000 through regular attrition, withdrawing from employee health plans, and most dramatically "asking Congress to eliminate the layoff protections in our collective bargaining agreements," all by 2015. [more inside]
posted by 2bucksplus on Aug 11, 2011 - 79 comments

Return to Sender

So it turns out that the United States Postal Service has lost $2.2 billion in the first quarter of 2011 with estimated losses of $7 billon by September. Despite shedding over 130,000 jobs in the past three years and promises from the Postal Worker's Union to not demand any raises in the near future, some doubt that the USPS has a future in America. Does the future have a P.O. Box? Google sure thinks so.
posted by Avenger on May 11, 2011 - 174 comments

There's an official app for that

Did you forget about what the TSA allows in carry on bags? Need to know if that guy behind you in line is on the FBI's most wanted list? Need to look up a zip code? Calculate your BMI on the road? The US Government has an app for that. [more inside]
posted by booksherpa on Aug 4, 2010 - 33 comments

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom of Night--But Maybe Gmail

You'll have to pry this mailbox from our cold, dead hands. At a time when a disgruntled few are turning up at town hall meetings around the country with assault rifles to defend America from the potential threat of health care reform bringing "socialism" to our doorstep, at least one small town in Maine seems to be saying, "Free markets be damned! We want access to our favorite government service whether it makes economic sense or not."
posted by saulgoodman on Aug 19, 2009 - 48 comments

Make your own joke about irrelevant things lingering on past their prime...

The US Postal Service announces a series of Simpsons stamps to be released on May 7. [more inside]
posted by 1f2frfbf on Apr 10, 2009 - 62 comments

The Future of Snail Mail

Shrinking the United States Postal Service: What happens to Netflix? [more inside]
posted by Secret Life of Gravy on Feb 2, 2009 - 117 comments

Direct Postage

What happens if you post a letter using coins instead of stamps?
posted by divabat on Nov 12, 2008 - 49 comments

Only in Brooklyn.

No rest stop? Try latex. From consumerist.com, a tale of... what can i say? Just a funny story. With pictures.
posted by paulinsanjuan on May 16, 2007 - 24 comments

Neither snow nor rain nor too-hot sand

Florida's Barefoot Mailmen traveled 68-mile routes between Palm Beach and Miami in the late 1800s. Walking 40 miles (barefoot) and rowing 28 miles over the course of three days each way, these letter carriers brought efficiency to a postal route that previously required that "a letter from Palm Beach to Miami begin its trip at the lighthouse community of Jupiter, 22 miles north, then by an Indian River steamboat to the rail head at Titusville. By train it continued to New York's port and from there by steamer to Havana. From Cuba, a trading schooner took the letter to Miami. It took a voyage of 3,000 miles and a period of six weeks to two months for a letter to arrive in Miami." Ed Hamilton, who disappeared in the course of duty (and whose mysterious death may have been engineered by moving his rowboat out of reach in alligator-infested waters), is honored with a bronze statue in Hillsboro Beach.
posted by occhiblu on Mar 14, 2007 - 6 comments

I wanna lick John Lennon!

How come we can't get these? On Feb 9th there are two sets of Beatles stamps being released in the UK. Jealous? I am.
posted by mannythedog on Jan 26, 2007 - 34 comments

Numbers Give Me A Geek Woody

US Census Bureau Facts & Figures: Holiday Edition says that more than 20 billion letters, packages and cards will be delivered this holiday season and 12 million packages a day through to Christmas Eve. Also check out the Special Edition for comparison data from 1915, 1967 and 2006, the African-American History Month Facts & Features and more data going back to 2000.
posted by fenriq on Dec 15, 2006 - 4 comments

Zoom zoom zoom goes the mail

So how DO those discs go back and forth? We all love Netflix and LaLa, but doesn't it seem just a little bit amazing that those little silver discs go back and forth quickly and safely? How about a shout out to our friends at the USPS and their nifty machines that make it all happen? Scroll down toward the bottom of the page for a few short movie clips of the machinery in action.
posted by twsf on Mar 11, 2006 - 29 comments

Stamping Out Free Email

When you really, really want your email to arrive at its destination: now you gotta pay postage. Another brilliant, forward-looking idea for monetizing-the-InternetTM from the wizards at AOL and Yahoo.
posted by digaman on Feb 4, 2006 - 46 comments

Go Postal

Portable Zip Codes "Every year millions of Americans are on the go: People who must relocate for work or other reasons. Those people may have been quite attached to their original homes or an adopted town or city of residence. For them this innovative measure will serve as an umbilical cord to the place they love best."
posted by cmicali on Apr 2, 2004 - 13 comments

Where do I lick the barcode?

Postal ID Plan A government report urges the U.S. Postal Service to create "smart stamps" to track the identity of people who send mail. [more inside]
posted by Irontom on Aug 13, 2003 - 20 comments

Terabytes by mail--Interview with Jim Gray

Interview with Jim Gray, head of Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center. "Clear your schedule, because once you've started reading this interview, you won't be able to put it down until you've finished it. Who would ever, in this time of the greatest interconnectivity in human history, go back to shipping bytes around via snail mail as a preferred means of data transfer? (Really, just what type of throughput does the USPS offer?) Jim Gray would do it, that's who. And we're not just talking about Zip disks, no sir; we're talking about shipping entire hard drives, or even complete computer systems, packed full of disks."
posted by mooncrow on Jul 11, 2003 - 23 comments

Damn you mail tub theives!!

So that's why the economy is so bad. The USPS is looking for $65 million dollars worth of white mail postal tubs. If you work in an office or deal with a mailroom, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The penalty for not coughing them up? 3 years imprisonment and a $1000 fine. (I read it on the side of one of the boxes I have by my desk).
posted by gwong on Dec 10, 2002 - 24 comments

USPS advice on the Anthrax treat.

USPS advice on the Anthrax treat. You've read through the hype. Now read about what you really must know.
posted by betobeto on Oct 16, 2001 - 9 comments

Staten Island postal people prevent posting of posterior postcards.

Staten Island postal people prevent posting of posterior postcards. Um, I mean, they wouldn't allow postcards of guys' butts to be sent. The cards were advertising short films to be shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. (NYT. Login: imaguest; password: imaguest)
posted by mudbug on Jul 27, 2001 - 3 comments

YES! You can help save the US Postal Service!

YES! You can help save the US Postal Service! With the USPS raising rates every month, it seems, and continuing to run with a $2 billion deficit, it's beginning to look like this quasi-public agency is going to lose the battle to those other overnight delivery companies. But since there are some people who can't afford the luxury of email or the high prices of FedEx, there must be something the common man can do to help keep Ben Franklin's baby afloat. There is! via Pigs & Fishes
posted by crunchland on May 17, 2001 - 10 comments

Post Office May End Saturday Delivery...

Post Office May End Saturday Delivery... One day I'll be may be able to tell my children, "When I was your age mail was delivered six days a week." My children will respond in awe.
posted by MarkBakalor on Apr 3, 2001 - 44 comments

By testing the limits

By testing the limits of what the USPS will actually deliver, scientists at the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) have answered an age-old question: "How patient is the US Postal Service when it comes to unwrapped packages?" (via Useless Pages)
posted by samsara on Mar 16, 2001 - 11 comments

The U.S. Post office is a monopoly! or is it?

The U.S. Post office is a monopoly! or is it? USPS allows rate hike under protest...
We can't choose another vendor for this service. It is illegal for anyone to deliver to a mailbox other than the USPS. Has there ever been a substantial court case challenging this?
Should it be privatized? Your thoughts?
posted by ooklah on Jan 10, 2001 - 40 comments

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