Once upon a time, your author saw a hard boiled egg delivered via the United States Postal Service.
The unknown sender had affixed a stamp to its crown with a piece of paper, whereupon the Stars and Bars waved, yes, like a flag. It did not arrive intact, of course, so USPS had put it in one of those damaged mail plastic bags, along with a formal note apologizing for cracking Humpty Dumpty.
The whole thing was so absurd. It only takes seeing something like that once to realize exactly how precious, and worth saving, the Postal Service truly is.
For years, the Postal Service has been threatened with cuts to service days, manpower, and potential privatization. This week, one of the nation’s oldest and most reliable providers went to lawmakers seeking $89 billion in help, admitting that mail circulation had dropped 33 percent from this time last year, due in large part to the pandemic. Its failure looms larger than ever before.
In the face of a projected $13 billion dollar shortfall this year alone, sending friends across town postcards with Norman Rockwell commemorative stamps sounds really pleasant! Two thumbs up from City Pages.
Yeah, buying a few stamps will help the USPS. Eggs don’t mail themselves. (Though maybe don’t mail eggs to each other, ya punks.)
And yet, at 55-forever-cents a pop… do we hear Jeff Bezos snickering in the distance somewhere?
So, making the best use of all this QuaranTime on our hands, we dug through the annals of USPS’s info section to find six big-ticket, legally permissible items to send friends, family, homebound coworkers, nursing home-bound seniors, Twitter crushes, ex-friend's pets, hated nemeses… all of which pack a certain wow factor that regular old first class mail lacks.
Decorate any of the below with as many stamps as you see fit. What could possibly go wrong?*
Boxes of Bees
Bees are precious. Bees are wonderful. Delivered correctly, they’d be a true gift. Sent with malice, though…? You decide how to play the bee card. Per USPS: “Only queen honey bees may be shipped via air transportation. Each queen honeybee shipped via air transportation may be accompanied by up to eight attendant honeybees.” Those in the ranks go by coach (surface transportation). “Bees must be securely packaged” is one of the more absurd things we expect to read in 2020. What they mean is: invest in that Good Tape.
Poison is Fine!
Please note that “fine” is a relative term here, so you’d best know your poisons, my witches. “Some poisons may be sent by air and ground transport, others only by ground,” says the government outfit. Okilly dokilly, then!
By USPS rule, mailed birds must weigh more than six ounces and less than 25 pounds (which is a very chonky bird considering their bones are hollow), and multiple birds per parcel are permitted, though they don’t get into specifics about that. Birds may only be shipped in containers marked per U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requirements. Service available via Priority Mail Express service.
Under certain circumstances (revenge?), these terror bugs are completely okayed by the PostMaster General! You’ve just gotta have the right paperwork to accompany your treachery. Double-pack those bad boys, double-check that the interior and exterior of your shipment is labeled LIVE SCORPIONS (no one will believe you) and you’re good to go. Oh, an important detail: The recipient must either be involved in medical research or actively use them to produce antivenom. NBD.
Someone You Love and Miss
After his assassination, Abraham Lincoln went on a two-week funeral tour in the 19th century’s equivalent of Air Force One: a train car that ended up in Minnesota, of all places. In these fraught times, we might not be able to attend funerals IRL. But consider this modest proposal, of our dearly departed’s cremains traveling from household to household for a farewell tour, a la Lincoln, all courtesy the United States Postal Service. “USPS is the only shipping company that ships cremated remains (human or pet ashes).” For secure handling, the online Postal Store offers two separate Cremains Kits for your shipping needs.
The keys to ensuring all of the “suggested” ideas remain above-board are simple: proper packaging, safety first, legal disclosure, and labeling. Can you imagine thinking you're unboxing your great aunt's urn, only to find the very species of enormous bird suspected of killing her? FOLLOW THE RULES, PEOPLE. You don't need a federal court case when you're already in a global pandemic.
*Don't do most of these. That "buy stamps" plan was better.