Biff America: Illegal underwear and the high cost of stamps
special to the daily
“44 cents to mail a letter – are you kidding me? That is ridiculous!”
There was probably a half dozen of us standing in line at the post office, so I was reasonably sure the guy wasn’t talking to me. In addition, though he looked vaguely familiar, he wasn’t someone I knew so I felt no need to respond.
But his declaration got me thinking: I had not really considered the fact that it’s now almost a half-dollar to mail a letter.
It was while pondering this that the same guy repeated a little louder, “44 cents to mail a letter – that’s highway robbery!”
I am a slow typer, reader, biker, driver, skier (and yes, lover) but I think pretty fast for a guy my age. In the time between it took the older dude behind me to offer the same assertion twice, I was convinced he was wrong. But I waited for one of the other line-mates to either agree with him or not so we could be done with it. That was not meant to be.
Getting no response he added, “No wonder the Postal Service is going broke!”
Sometimes when I’m doing something stupid, I can see myself doing it as an out-of-body experience. The smart guy in my head screams “NO!” as it watches the lunkhead who operates my mouth begins to open it.
“I don’t know if I agree.” I said sweetly. “I just spent more than two dollars for a cup of coffee that is long gone. The thought that I can put a letter in a box here and it will get delivered, safely, to anywhere in America within a few days for less than a half a buck seems like a pretty good deal.”
Trying to lighten up the mood a little, I added, in a stage whisper: “Plus, I don’t want to tick-off any postal workers.” I held up my pink slip and continued, “I’m picking up my Victoria’s Secret for Men order, and I don’t want them keeping my new underwear for themselves.”
The inner voice in my head pleaded “Please stop taking.” This time I listened.
The guy behind me did not seem to have an inner voice because he continued: “They have to deliver your package. It is a federal offense to tamper with the US Mail! I pay taxes; a federally funded department should not gouge taxpayers!”
The voice in my head whispered: “Smile and nod.”
I could do neither. I get a little tired of people beginning a complaint by saying “I pay taxes.” Doesn’t everyone pay taxes? That’s like beginning an argument with the words, “I breathe oxygen and …”
We all pay taxes; if not income tax, sales tax, Social Security, excise tax. I too pay taxes and, in all honesty, I think I get a good bang for my buck.
Luckily, all that was said inside my head, for which the voice in there thanked me and asked me to keep thinking and not speak.
But it was too late, my mouth was already moving.
“I know it is illegal to tamper with mail, but I have to tell you, some of the underwear I ordered is also illegal; or it should be.” I heard the inner word, “STOP!” just as I was saying: “Please don’t ask for pictures; my wife gets jealous.”
If the postal worker heard the exchange, she didn’t mention it. I did my business and headed out, passing by the angry-over-the-price-of-stamps guy. By the look on his face I hadn’t cheered him up; I gave him a smile and wink.
My inner voice screamed, “Keep moving.”
It would not have killed me to express some sympathy, or at least understanding, for the old dude’s outrage, but I’m just getting a little tired of anger and outrage as the fallback emotion of many Americans. If you are reading this, then more than likely you are better off than many of the other poor souls who inhabit this planet – so get over it.
Some events and situations occurring over the last couple of years that have affected friends and family have caused me to evoke this mantra: “If you don’t have a tumor, you’re not hungry, homeless or afraid for your life – quit your damn bellyaching.
But upon further reflection, 44 cents to mail a letter is kind of pricey ….
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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