The United States Postal Service is bleeding money like the sacrificial goat in a satanic ritual. From what I've been reading in USA Today, our Postmaster reports record-setting losses for the 2008 fiscal year totaling in the billions of dollars. Billions! Yes, we're talking about the organization with an army of men and women prancing through the streets in their too-tight navy shorts and their oh-so-cool European satchels. Just where exactly is the $8.40 I'm spending on every book of 20 stamps going? Yeah, yeah - salaries, pensions, health insurance, vehicle maintenance, gas ... Gas! I had almost forgotten to take into consideration the fact that last year's record losses for our little letter carriers coincide with the record gains in gas/oil industry profits as regular unleaded gas was going for about four bucks a pop last year. I'll admit that maybe the post office's bitching is legitimate and perhaps it's more than governmental ineptitude which is blowing our country's postal wad. So what do we do?
According to the articles I've been reading in the newspaper, there are three options which are being considered to ensure that the U.S.P.S. weathers its current financial storm. One possibility is to put together some sort of federal bailout, a lump-sum payment/loan from Team Obama which would keep the delivery trucks' tanks filled and ensure that the stockpile of silly shorts never runs short. Considering the stunning efficiency and effectiveness with which the Fannie and Freddie bailouts were performed, it's no wonder that this option seems to be spoken about only as lip service. The second option suggested was to significantly increase the price of a stamp. Normally, the price of a stamp can only rise at the rate of inflation except in emergency conditions when the post office can ask Congress to approve a rate hike as high as necessary. Postal spokespersons have already stated that when they seek approval for a rate increase which would take effect in May, they would not ask for anything more than the $.01 or $.02 boost which would keep rates in pace with inflation, forgoing any "emergency" increases. The only other reasonable course of action officials can come up with is to cut an entire day of mail delivery, reducing the postal schedule from a six-days a week operation to an only five-days a week affair. This sounds to be the most seriously considered option at the moment and in my own admittedly uninformed opinion, this does seem the most ideal of the three choices for rescuing our mail services.
But can't we come up with an option number four? While for a lot of people the daily mail is nothing but a load of bills and snailspam, mail-call for me is just about the only thing I've got to look forward to each day. The rush from mail-call is not unlike putting a big bet down on a roulette table, watching the guard make his way to your cell like a ball circling the wheel, sorting the stack of letters and magazines in his hand while the inmates watch and wonder if today's going to be the day they'll hit. Sometimes you lose and the cop just keeps on strolling past your room and sometimes you hit big and a thick stack of envelopes come sliding under the door. Win, lose, or draw, there's always the thrill of the game, so eliminating a sixth of the mail delivery is like eliminating a sixth of my happiness. I'll bet those selfish pricks didn't even take my opinion into consideration when coming up with this crackpot scheme of theirs. Jerks. Childish rants aside, I'm certain that there has got to be a better, even more cost-effective way of saving our already generously paid postal workers' asses without stripping Whitney of a sixth of his reason for getting up in the morning.
To come up with such an idea we must look for inspiration everywhere. Especially outside of America, where men and women brave the rain, sleet and snow to ensure that fellow citizens have their letters and magazines and anthrax in a timely manner, just as we do. And, like us, the boon of e-mail's instantaneous transmissions and ease of online bill-paying has been a near-mortal bane to postal services across the globe. The whole world is feeling the postal pinch, so what have the world's other nations been doing to counteract the technological scourge of e-mail? This online villain which is slowly but surely digging a grave for the almighty stamp. While Europe is without a doubt the first place to look for money-saving strategies, we should not focus too hard on the French. This clever nation has already devised a deceptively ingenious method of trimming expenditures through having constant national strikes by government employees. Many American state governments have picked up on the idea and instituted four-day work weeks for state workers, but some of these workers are fighting the change tooth and nail. The French government has realized that by pissing their employee unions off they can not only get them to reduce their hours, but also to actually initiate the reductions themselves. While this tactic is indeed genius, it's important to keep our goal in mind - to keep work loads at their current level, if not actually increasing them. What about the Deutschlanders; the Scots; the Swedes? Is India having any major issues with postal cash flow? If not, why not; what's your secret? I, for one, am willing to seek good advice from wherever I can find it, whatever it takes to preserve the six days of mail delivery which I cherish so much.
Until this international feedback arrives (Really! Leave your comments!) though, we can also be considering every possibility already available to us Americans. Although the U.S.P.S. is a Federal institution, it is designed to run at a modest profit. This fact makes it, by definition, a business. Why is it that the Postmaster General seems to have forgotten one of the cardinal rules of business: Sex sells. I mean, who really looks forward to dealing with the dry, old traditional post office? This isn't the Fifties, these days Playboy is considered so tame that by now issues are probably sold in check-out lines at Toys R Us. The globe is in recession, so now is not the time to be afraid of showing a little skin. First and foremost, where's the Jenna Jameson stamp? I'm not suggesting having a still-shot from Naughty Nympho Gangbang 4 right beside the "42 cents USA" text. But a tastefully raunchy photo of this emaciated porn mogulette is certain to boost business among men in the 8-80 age bracket. Also, with the restaurant industry in turmoil, there's got to be hundreds of out-of-work Hooters girls who would be more than thrilled with government pay and benefits. How about ditching the tacky shorts and knit shirts for two-piece bikinis? Watch the resulting explosion in packages having the same return address as the shipping address and requiring a signature upon delivery. Do not mistake the preceding suggestions as being made in the spirit of exploiting women. They're intended to exploit men and their Pavlovian reactions to anything with curves. And what's wrong with giving the ladies a little glimpse at some man-meat as well? I've developed a pretty nice body over the past couple of years so, if it were for the good of my country's mail services, I wouldn't hesitate to hit some of Florida's retirement communities to delivery mail wearing nothing but my fuzzy blue cowboy hat, zebra print bikini underwear and a pair of comfortable shoes. Enduring the gawks of a few old ladies is the smallest sacrifice a man can make for his country and its desperately ailing postal network.
If half-naked employees is too extreme even in this 21st century, that's fine. But as much of the rest of the country is scrambling for part-time jobs (if they can even find them) to supplement income, it should not be unreasonable to expect the U.S.P.S. to do the same. Almost every person in this country has a Federal employee on their property once a day. While that government representative is there, what if someone needs a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread from a store down the road? For a fee, how about being able to have a few groceries delivered with one's mail - two birds with one stone. Or if it's your friend Jenny's birthday, how about sending her a singing telegram with her next issue of Elle via the U.S.P.S. For a fee.
These are just a couple of the possibilities which come to mind. Whether or not these particular strategies are put in place is not important, but we do need to keep in mind that desperate times call for desperate measures. As a country, it is vital that we think outside the box. If this means putting Chippendales on delivery routes while carrying speakers blasting Right Said Fred's mega-hit "I'm Too Sexy" or if my mail suddenly comes with a song and dance on my birthday, great. I just hope that we can come together as a nation to do what needs to be done so Smitty From The City can enjoy as many days of mail roulette as possible.