I remember reading a book about Hitler where some elderly Prussian noblewoman remarked on his ascension to power, “We’re done. He has the sensibilities of a drunken postman.” I’m not defending Hitler here, but I suspect it was the rare day you found him napping or looking through titmags in a jeep, or trying to get Bormann to fill in for him while he went on a bender. Granted, he was a world historical asshole, but the key question here is one of intent. Nobody intends to be a postman. They wash up there. If they tell you they love it, put five or more dollars in the mailbox around Christmas and keep them on your good side, because they’re incapable of feeling pain.

I had to get a job with the Postal Service, because the bar where I worked/lived was on the auction block, and it looked like an insufferable dick was going to be the new owner. I ‘d also been led to believe it was one of those remunerative jobs I’d heard so much about but never encountered in the flesh.

I did pretty good on the first exam, but found out later they lost the results. The next one landed me the designation “dual casual”, a craft-crossing experiment that got its promoters in deep shit with both the  National Association of Letter Carriers (City Boys), and the  National Rural Letter Carrier’s Association. I  ultimately wound up being offered as a sub for a rural carrier.

If I had to do it all again, I’d promptly saw into my jugular with a table knife:

I should have known when I went downtown for the interview and they made me wait in an office with nothing but an austere metal desk and a chair until a skeletal but potbellied old guy with multiple bags under his eyes walked in and began ratlling off questions in pseudo-cop interrogation style.

“You’re driving on Walnut Street facing north. Ascending street numbers on the right. There’s a non dismount collection box unit in a cul-de sac to your left. Where do you park the vehicle to begin your loop? If the first box number on the right is 2435544 will the numbers on the left be odd or even? Where do you park the vehicle to begin your loop? Where do you park the vehicle to begin your loop?!”

Jesus, what a flaming asshole, I thought. I hope I don’t  ever have to work near this douchebag. It was the the first  of many ass-backwards clairvoyancy episodes I experienced in my tenure with them.

Next up was right hand drive vehicle training and a dehumanizing battery of fill-in-the-voids tests that let me know the only way I could lose this job would be to strip down naked and start humping the instructor right there in the windowless cinderblock room under the whirring flourescent lights.

Then again, maybe not.

What puzzled me most at the time was how joyless the bastards were until it came time to discuss accepting gifts from customers. Cookies-OK. Cash gifts of five dollars or less-OK. Cash gifts in excess of five dollars? -Hey, sometimes stuff gets caught up in your bag.* Sexual encounters?-Highly unlikely, and therefore, you’re in uncharted waters. Just remember, you’re a federal employee, and a representative of the government.

When I got behind the wheel of the jeep for my right-hand drive training, I was remembering my first driving test  as a sixteen year old. I’d been fine until I saw a guy signalling left and slowing down and I made a right into traffic. The examiner said “He could have had that signal on since yesterday.” And I failed. Didn’t bother me. Hated cars then, hate them now.

The steering wheel on the postal jeep the instructor selected  had what I was later to find out was typical play for a vehicle that entered service the year Nixon resigned: About ¾ of a turn one way, and ¼ back to correct for the breathtaking lack of wheel alignment. The first hundred or so yards in downtown Raleigh were pretty hair-raising, but mostly for the pedestrians hearing the hubs beginning to grate the curb at the edge of the sidewalk. The instructor seemed a little panicked- “Slow it down and look at the horizon before you kill somebody God Damn. You drive like a drunk man. That’s better. NO. Don’t look at the lines. You’re going to run somebody down! ARRGhahhggg.! Calm down! Easy. Look at the goddamn lines! That’s more like it.”

Some old guy waved to him on the street and he hung out the window “Hey Shoup! Get your hands off your dick! This boy’s gonna run your ass down! Hahahahaha!”

When we got back in the parking lot he signed a sheet of paper he’d been carrying on a clipboard.

“That was pretty good.” He said.

*Actual non-fictive quote.