Indignity Vol. 1, No. 26: Postage due.
Did You Know You Can't Mail a Normal Package to Australia Anymore?
THE UNITED STATES Postal Service temporarily raised its rates this week, in preparation for the holiday season: surge pricing, basically, to capture more money from people when they most need to send things. The news about the mail is almost never good. Over the weekend, I had tweeted despairingly after reading that Louis DeJoy—the widely despised Trump donor and self-interested shipping-industry businessman who became Postmaster General under Donald Trump—was not only still on the job but pressing ahead with his plan to ruin the Postal Service by slowing down and otherwise reducing service in the name of "efficiency."
DeJoy is obviously unfit for his duties and is openly dedicated to destroying a vital and universal public service, and millions of Americans got directly furious with him when he sabotaged the whole holiday delivery system last year. Getting rid of him, though, would require either Congress revising its own laws about how the Postal Service is governed or Joe Biden testing the legal limits of his power to force out the members of the Postal Service Board of Governors who now control whether DeJoy stays or goes. So neither the legislature nor the president is willing to assert power in a mildly disruptive way, with widespread popular support, for the clear benefit of the whole country.
This seems like a depressing indicator of how likely the government is to take on more difficult reforms than removing one creep who is obviously bad at his duties. But meanwhile, after tweeting about DeJoy, I got a plaintive reply from someone in New Zealand asking what was going on because they'd heard the news "that mail from the U.S. has stopped." Someone chimed in with a Sydney Morning Herald article saying the same goes for Australia.
Surely the U.S. Postal Service hasn't just abandoned the Antipodes? But no, it largely has, at least for packages. Australia and New Zealand are on the USPS list of service suspensions, along with the likes of Afghanistan, Libya, and South Sudan. The most expensive services, Global Express Guaranteed and Priority Mail Express International, are still going through, but all the normal-priced package and packet delivery options are shut down.
A spokesperson for the Postal Service emailed to confirm this has been going on, and is getting worse:
The Postal Service temporarily suspended First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) destined to Australia on September 3. Two weeks later (Sept. 17), a temporary suspension of Priority Mail International (PMI) service to Australia was also implemented. These suspensions are caused by a lack of available transportation and affect only outbound FCPIS and PMI destinated to Australia at this time.
FCPIS and PMI services to New Zealand were similarly impacted on October 1st.
Priority Mail Express International (PMEI) service destined to both countries is, however, still being accepted. Thus, U.S.-based customers may still use PMEI for their present mailing needs to Australia and New Zealand.
Sending a flat-rate Priority Mail Express International envelope weighing four pounds or less from New York to Australia would cost $69.95, according to the postal service website. That's $30.65 more than the now-unavailable Priority Mail.
Or you could just spend $1.30 and send your Australian friend a normal first-class international letter, telling them you can't send them a package. The Postal Service does not provide an estimate of how long a non-premium international letter would take to arrive; if it were a package, and you were allowed to send a package, Stamps.com says 7 to 21 days.
"Our ability to find available transportation capacity to Australia and New Zealand," the emailed statement from the Postal Service spokesperson said, "is driven by external forces which we do not control."
If you've already dropped a package in the mail to Australia or New Zealand, the suspension notice on the USPS website explains, the Postal Service ("Postal Service employees," the notice specifies, as if the mail sorters or carriers were the ones responsible for the situation) will "endorse them 'Mail Service Suspended — Return to Sender' and then place them in the mail stream for return."
Is this news? It hasn't been news in the United States. Maybe the pandemic has just numbed everyone's sense of crisis. Maybe if you can still mail some kind of package to Australia, even if it costs 70 bucks, the American empire can still count itself as up and running. It just seems like more things used to be possible to do than they are now. Neither rain nor snow, they said, or at least the architects of the General Post Office Building said it for them in 1914. (Now the General Post Office Building is a semi-fake train station for people who want to literally go out of their way to avoid the real Penn Station.)
This slogan is not a formal commitment, and in fact the USPS routinely delays mail during bad weather. Similarly, the USPS has been increasingly imposing a policy of mail carriers stopping delivery long before the gloom of night, in fact by 5PM even if sunset is hours later, although it can cause mail delays..
This Truck Is for Assholes
HERE’S A THING, parked on a public street: a GMC Sierra. Yes, it's blocking a fire hydrant. Even if it weren't, though—! That vehicle behind it, barely visible, is a Nissan Rogue SUV, which weighs about one and three-quarters tons. The Rogue is a "compact" SUV, which means that it is an inch or so shorter than a 1991 Ford Explorer. Its roof barely peeps over the Sierra's tailgate.
The battle to build the biggest, dumbest, rudest vehicle on the road will never end. The Nissan Rogue exists to buck up the confidence of drivers who would be afraid to get behind the wheel of a normal, humble sedan or minivan anymore, but the GMC Sierra could back over a Nissan Rogue without even realizing it. And that's not even the most dangerous end of the Sierra! The grille is made for killing people. We stood a fifth-grader by the front end and the top of his head only just cleared the hood. A third-grader simply wouldn't exist from the driver's point of view—or from any point of view, after the Sierra was done with them.
It's possible that the reason the Sierra was parked at a fire hydrant was that the driver couldn't even see the hydrant. Maybe they were so used to things making way for them that they just assumed a parking space opened up out of deference.
A full-sized delivery truck came down the street while we were still boggling over the Sierra. It looked like it had a lower grille than the pickup truck; its hood was definitely downcurved to give the driver better sightlines. It was big because it was built to do a big job. The Sierra was big like a giant robot suit is big: so it could make a big asshole into an even bigger asshole.
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VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.
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SANDWICH RECIPE DEP’T.
WE PRESENT instructions for the assembly of sandwiches from Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes, Copyright 1916, now in the public domain for the delectation of all, written by Marion Harris Neil, M.C.A., former Cookery Editor, The Ladies’ Home Journal, author of How to Cook in Casserole Dishes, Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them, Canning, Preserving and Pickling, and The Something-Different Dish.
4 ozs. (1/2 cup) butter
3 hard-cooked egg-yolks
1 cooked shad roe
3 drops Tabasco sauce
3 chopped olives
Salt and paprika to taste
Pound the roe and rub it through a sieve with the hard-cooked yolks of eggs. Cream the butter, add all the other ingredients, then spread between slices of bread Cut into shapes and dish up neatly on a sandwich tray.
Cooked cod’s roe may be used in place of the shad roe.
Another Method.—Crush a pair of cooked shad roes with a silver fork and moisten with mayonnaise dressing flavored with tarragon vinegar. Spread one slice of white bread lightly with mayonnaise dressing and cover with chopped watercress; spread the second slice with butter, and then with the shad-roe mixture, and press lightly together.
If you decide to prepare and enjoy this sandwich, kindly send a picture to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.