Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bulk Rate by Jeff Weddle

A mailman is driven mad by the endless stream of junk he is required to deliver; by Jeff Weddle.

Jack hates being a mailman. He's hated it for years, but it's the job he has and he's scared of looking for another, so he soldiers on. What he hates most is all the junk mail he has to carry. Bills, personal letters, packages - okay. These things people bring upon themselves. Many times they even enjoy receiving them. But junk mail, all those envelopes: YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER! URGENT MESSAGE, OPEN IMMEDIATELY! A SPECIAL OFFER FOR FOLKS OVER FIFTY! All that useless crap.

The sheer weight of this mail is staggering. Jack figures that over the years he's carried more than seven tons of junk mail for more than a hundred miles. His feet ache just at the notion.

He starts reading stories in the paper about disgruntled postal workers. There was a guy in Omaha who went crazy and shot up the post office. Another fellow in Maine did the same thing. It seems like every time he turns around another postal worker has blown his co-workers away.

The thing he can't figure about it is why the newspaper stories always refer to these guys as "disgruntled." What kind of word is that, anyway? Jack thinks of a number of words that might describe the way he feels: dismayed, disorderly, dissatisfied, distended, upset, pissed off, enraged, perplexed, mad, angry, insane, sore, queasy, sad, loopy, irregular. But disgruntled? Too tame. Too tame especially for those guys already over the edge, the ones who brought their guns to work.

He starts hoarding the bulk rate material. He's supposed to deliver everything assigned to his route. To do otherwise is a felony. Jack doesn't care. He starts keeping it and stashing it in his house. Maybe if it doesn't get to the potential customers the advertisers will see their investment is costing them money and will cut it out. Maybe Jack will single handedly bring down the junk mail industry. The savings in trees alone would be staggering.

Soon his living room is filled with flyers from Food Town and K-Mart. BIG SALE THIS WEEK! UNBELIEVABLE VALUES! Next to them sit the Publisher's Clearinghouse envelopes. Big, thick, hideous bundles of waste. They make a huge pile right next to Jack's rubber tree plant.

A couple of weeks of this and Jack is running out of room. He's got a small place anyway, and the junk mail just keeps on coming. His kitchen fills up, his bedroom, his bath. One day his supervisor calls him into the office. Says there's a problem. Says it seems like some of the mail isn't being delivered.

"Frankly, we're concerned. We can't help wondering where all this mail is going."

Jack doesn't respond at first. He sits there looking at his supervisor. Both are aware that he - Jack - looks like hell. What with the Kroger circulars in his tub, he hasn't been able to shower in five days.

"We want to help you, Jack. We want to make sure the mail gets through."

"DON'T MISS BIG BARGAIN DAYS!" says Jack. His supervisor looks nervous. Sweat forms on his face. There is a button on his desk and he pushes it. "YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION IS REQUESTED!" says Jack. "DATED MATERIAL, OPEN AT ONCE!"

The office door opens and two big men in postal uniforms enter. They look to the supervisor for instructions.

We've got one, boys," he says. "Careful, now."

The bigger of the men leaps on Jack and wrestles him to the floor.

"NOBODY BEATS OUR PRICES!" says Jack. "WE WILL NOT BE UNDERSOLD!"

The big man holds Jack down while the smaller one applies the restraints, the gag, hood and irons. Together they drag him out of the supervisor's office, down the hall and to the room that is kept for just this purpose.

The supervisor has a pretty good idea where the mail has gotten to. He calls and arranges for someone to check out Jack's place and retrieve anything, um, unusual, they find. He looks at a pile of applications gathering dust on his desk. It's hard to get a job with the post office. Good hours, good pay. Benefits. He's going to make someone very happy.

The supervisor picks up the first application from the pile and starts dialing a phone number. He's thinking to himself, absolutely without irony, SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!

23 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this, the inverted humour and the sad but inevitable ending. More so as I have a friend who was 'sacked' as a postman because he failed to get signatures for recorded packages. He thought he was doing the recipient a favour when they weren't at home, he just dropped the delivery into the box. No signature, alas no job.
    Nice story that built up the tension to the end.

    James
    jplmcewan.wordpress.com

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  2. A very good read, so much covered in such a short story. A tale of our times which insensate search for profit by the big companies grinds down the little purpose and squashes them underfoot. The story is all the more powerful for being laced with humour, and so it avoids being a (mini) polemic. Thank you,
    Ceinwen

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  3. Sans Typos - sorry!

    A very good read, so much covered in such a short story. A tale of our times in which the insensate search for profit by the big companies grinds down the little people and squashes them underfoot. The story is all the more powerful for being laced with humour, and so it avoids being a (mini) polemic. Thank you,
    Ceinwen

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    1. Typos or no typos, many thanks for the read and generous comments, Ceinwen. :-)

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  4. yes, loved it and for all the above reasons, especially the humour.

    Mike McC

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  5. Great read! Thank you!

    C. Barber

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  6. By the way, this story, along with my other Fiction on the Web stories and a number of others, some published, some not, will appear in my upcoming collection, tentatively titled HOT SARDINES. It's due in a few months from Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. :-)

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  7. A well paced topical and relevant tale told with enlivening humour

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    1. Many thanks, Bruce!

      Jeff

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  8. Have to say this story resonates with me. Junk mail plunders my mail box on a daily basis! You struck a nerve, with humor, yes, but an underlying frustration as well. Kudos, Jeff.
    Rocabro
    .

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  9. A perfect story ... I'm really sorry for Jack.

    E-mail spams are driving me crazy too :-(

    All the best - Sam

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    1. Many thanks, Sam!

      Jeff

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  10. 'Going postal' is of course a thing and this crazily brilliant story makes great use of that idea. Poor Jack! Love the end line too.

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    1. I'll take "crazily brilliant" all day long. Many thanks, Mandi!

      Jeff

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  11. Good story and thanks for letting me know where my junk mail has been going. Congrats on the upcoming collection.

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    1. Much obliged, pincusb!

      Jeff

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  12. Junk mail with its tons of catalogs is the only thing keeping the fat old postal service alive. What a waste. Thanks for your dandy little fiction full of truth.

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  13. As a mailman I have to say this isn't far from the truth. Delivering stuff people might want holds some satisfaction - but there is so much junk. Sometimes I marvel at the weight of the magazines I deliver in one day...and then there are over 20 of us in this small city...and we deliver six days a week. All these advertising mags nobody reads...hows the planet going to handle it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Frank! Sorry I missed your comment all this time. I truly appreciate the read and the kind words.

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