Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Founding of the Postal Department in 1792

 

First Stamps

This post continues the Top Ten Things Not to Do with a historical backdrop. This week marks the anniversary of the founding of the postal service in 1792. If you have access to a time travel machine, please take this list with you should you land in 1792. It might help avoid some embarrassment if you end up at the first post office.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Founding of the Postal Service in 1792.

10 If you are at the founding of the Postal Service, do not ask for a roll of stamps. If you do, at best the clerk will be confused. At worst, they will think you are joking with a Federal employee. (Since stamps were not introduced until 1847, you are now involved in a controversy, Greggory. Fooling with a Federal Employee carries a $100.00 fine and ten days in jail or both.)

9 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not yell at Tiny the WWF champ who is working at the postal service to pay off his assault and battery fine. If you do, at best Tiny will have taken his medication. At worst, Tiny is the first recorded episode of an employee “going postal.” (Now you’ve done it, Gregos. You’ve been the reason for the creation of a whole new verb. Countless Postal employees will curse your name from this time on.)

8 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not lie to the clerk about the contents of your package. If you do, at best no one will be any the wiser. At worst, your package has been randomly chosen for inspection. (Funny how those twelve unpaid for letters got into that shipment of socks isn’t it? Grigory? You’ll need a bag of pence to rectify this situation.)

7 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not mark your package fragile. If you do, at best it will be handled carefully. At worst, the word will be a challenge to all handlers to see how well you packed your item. (I guess the recipient of your package was quite surprised to receive a present of ground glass for their birthday, Gualtiero. You could tell them that it is a do it yourself crystal vase hobby kit.)

6 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not mark your letter “air mail.” If you do, at best the clerk will think you have nothing in the envelope. At worst, your letter will end up on Ben Franklin’s desk since it is assumed his experiments with kites have something to do with your correspondence. (In this case, Gunny your private love note has been published in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper to the delight of hundreds. Good thing you didn’t sign it.)

5 if you are at the founding of the postal service, do not ring that little bell under the sign that says ‘ring bell for service.’ If you do, at best no one will come anyway. At worst, you’ll be facing a clerk who was just having a sandwich in the back. (That white linen envelope you carefully picked out to deliver your valentine is now decorated with a mustard thumbprint, Gustavus. Best not say anything.)

4 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not stare at the person looking at all the fugitive wanted posters. If you do, at best they are only curious. At worst, they are wanted for robbery and murder and are checking to see if there are any posters on them. (Try to look away quickly, Gwallter. Making eye contact with that person will be hazardous to your health. Oops too late.)

3 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not take the quill pen at the desk. If you do, at best you can call it an accident. At worst, the clerk will alert the sheriff that you have stolen government property. (What a beautiful mess. If only there had been a chain on that quill, Gwernach. Oh well, ten years at hard labor will pass quickly.)

2 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not moan out loud at the unusually long time it seems to take to serve the ten patrons in line ahead of you. If you do, at best everyone will think you have a toothache. At worst, your displeasure will be met with increased slowness on the part of the patrons and clerk. (The guy at the counter is asking the clerk for directions to Plymouth for heaven’s sake. You should have kept quiet, Gwyn.)

1 If you are at the founding of the postal service, do not attempt to mail an oversized package. If you do, at best the clerk will tell you to go away. At worst, you will be advised to read the rules and regulations of acceptable package dimensions. (If you are incredibly unlucky, Gavin the clerk will read you the rules word for word. That is payback for the person who moaned behind you.)

67 comments

  1. […] you say something, and you get committed and if you edit that something out, Linda G. Hill calls John W. Howell and the next thing you know, Tiny is nailing a list of 10 things not to do when participating in […]

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    1. Thank you for the ping back, Dan

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    2. Thank you the ping back

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  2. Gwen Plano · ·

    Too funny, John. I especially loved #6 about “air mail” and Ben Franklin’s kite. Have a fantastic day. 😀

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    1. Thank you, Gwen. Have a terrific day too.

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  3. John,

    The worst part about that fine you incur for fooling with a federal employee is that, in 1792, you couldn’t even offer to let bygones be bygones by treating them to Buffalo Wild Wings.

    And I wonder how many peeps who use the term “going postal” are of the age where they know what it means, LOL.

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    1. Given most of the comments are around that subject I think the real meaning has been lost.

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  4. I always stare at the wanted posters. Funny post, John!
    BTW, do they still make postcard stamps?

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    1. Yup. They cost 35 cents.

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  5. Hilarious John! I loved #2! Happy Monday!

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    1. Thank you, Jill. 😁

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  6. Looks like the postal service hasn’t changed much in the past 227 years! I wondered where the term going postal came from.

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    1. This originated in the USA in 1990s following several incidents from 1986 onward, in which disgruntled individuals working for the United States Postal Service workers shot and killed fellow workers and members of the public.

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  7. I’ve always suspected #7.

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    1. ‘Do not bend’ is another bull’s eye.

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      1. We shall now play a game of Mailerang!

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  8. Loved the way you used our experiences in a look-back setting. For me, no question – the air mail #6 got the best howl.

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    1. Thank you, Frank. I’m glad you liked it.

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  9. Too funny, John! Tiny was at his best on this one. Loved the air mail and going postal.

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      1. You’re welcome, John. You’re still planning a Tiny WWF Top Ten one day, I hope. This one is a candidate. 🙂

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      2. Ha haha. I guess the title would be Top Ten Things Not to Do Near Tiny.

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      3. Sounds good!

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  10. That was a long wait only to find out they’be never heard of an Elvis stamp.

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    1. Ha haha. Good one, Craig.

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  11. I love knowing that Tiny was the first employee to go Postal. I worked for the Post Office, John, and these would all have been problems in the 1970s – they might have known what a roll of stamps was, but asking for it still would have gotten a look. Taking the pen – Oh my God you’d be lucky to get only 10.

    Great list!

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    1. Thanks, Dan. You and I share the same experience. I worked there during Christmas breaks in College.

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      1. I remember going home one night with one of the mailbox keys still attached to my belt. I walked into an inquisition the next morning.

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      2. Oh no. Lucky you didn’t get banned to the truck unloading dock.

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      3. I was already on the 3:00am – 6:30am and 3:30 pm – 9:00 pm split shift. I don’t think they could have made my life any worse.

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  12. I loved number five. I’ve rung that bell for service, but rarely — the looks from the employee emerging from the back aren’t always pleasant. I’d only add, if you’re at the founding of the postal service, I hope you brought a big plate of cookies. It helps to ensure good service in the future!

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    1. Good point, Linda. I think a five pound note would work too. 😀

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      1. Easier than five pounds of cookies, too.

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  13. Gee, 200-odd years and things haven’t changed all that much. Interesting post, John, and I’m always glad to see Tiny included . . . even if he ends up as a scapegoat.

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    1. Thanks you, Debbie. He will always be there.

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  14. It would be fun to tell the first postal clerks that one day the post office will be mailing houses and cars to Sears customers.

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    1. Ha haha. That would be fun.

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  15. But you should “go postal” and make history.
    (Hey, somebody has to be the first, fight?)

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  16. Don’t take the quill pen! Haha, I am sure a lot of pens do go missing at the P.O., just like at the bank. We have become quite the disposable society.
    You mention stamps. I play a game on my iPad where a stamp usually means the kind of stamp you dip in ink and then press onto a surface. I wonder if they had that kind of stamp in those days. I bet they did!

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    1. I’ll bet they did too. I just can’t imagine a letter leaving with out someone pounding it.

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      1. Haha! And then the wax stamps, too!

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  17. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    Funny list John. I’m glad they came up with stamps later.

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  18. I’m laughing out loud AGAIN! Good ones, John.

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    1. Good to hear, Jan 😁

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  19. I wonder if they had such things as express pony or walking pony? Most entertaining John.

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    1. Funny. You would pay extra for express. Like everything else the letter would arrive in the same time no matter.

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  20. Just wait till they figure out they can go on strike… Then what do you do?
    Back to the stone ages 😉

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    1. Who? The postal service? Strike? Ha ha ha

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      1. I know… crazy notions I have, occasionally…

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  21. Like Charles, I was always suspicious of #7. Just seems like an invitation.

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    1. Ha haha. Like “Do Not Walk on the Grass.”

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  22. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this post from John Howell’s Fiction Favorites blog with the Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Founding of the Postal Service in 1792.

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      1. You’re welcome.

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  23. Brilliant, John. If you come and visit South Africa you will find the delivery times are around about the same time. Four to six months [by the slow ship].

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    1. I thought of your situation while writing this. Thanks, Robbie.

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  24. Love #6. I have heard of people who bottle air and try and sell it. To think there were no stamps, so you really had to queue and wait your turn back then.

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    1. You did. The plus side is you could pay with barter. “How far does this beaver pelt get my box?”

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  25. Good one on the stamps. Envelopes were invented in the same year, but over in England. It took a few years to get to this side of the pond. Remember using sealing wax? Those were the good old days.

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    1. I had a sealing wax kit with my initials on the stamp. I think I used it once. Now I wonder where that went. Thanks for the visit Andrew. Here’s a nice cold Grey Goose. Salute.

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