Going postal

Americans have an easier relationship with things that go bang than we do. At a UK airport, you have to carry dangerous things like Anusol and Vagisil in a little clear plastic bag so that everyone can see them. At US airports, you can have a gun in your luggage, just as long as it isn’t loaded. I suppose it’s just the way we are. One thing we have in common is that (by and large) you aren’t allowed to carry guns in the Post Office. However, it is now legal to carry a firearm, open or concealed, in the parking lot of US Postal Service property (or the car park, as we like to call it in Britain). You probably wouldn’t get away with that in the UK, but since most Post Offices in the UK don’t have car parks, it doesn’t really arise.
uspostofficeThe restriction on carrying explosives and weapons (concealed or otherwise) on US Postal Property dates from 1972. Very prescient, since the first episodes of employees ‘going postal’ didn’t occur until the 1980s, but (with hindsight) not entirely effective.
According to Wikipedia, Americans are more likely to be the victim of a ‘workplace homicide’ in retail than they are in the Postal Service, but it puts that down to exposure to robberies. Wikipedia doesn’t mention disgruntled customers, complaining that the Beretta Cheetah they just bought isn’t accurate beyond about fifty yards. On the other hand, (also according to Wikipedia) ‘13% of workplace homicides were committed at postal facilities by current or former employees’. Blimey. Is the Post Office such a terrible place to work? I did the Christmas post as a student, years ago, and it didn’t seem too bad. I’ve worked in worse places, and for less money. I think we got free tea, too.
postofficeWe Brits tend to be somewhat more restrained when it comes to workplace rage. Maybe spitting in the boss’s coffee, or something, rather than gunning down everyone in customer support with an Uzi. Since I’ve never really experienced workplace rage (or spat in anyone’s coffee), I’m guessing a bit. Our strict gun laws probably help. In the UK, only criminals are allowed to carry guns, whereas in the US, pretty much anyone can. While most Americans don’t go around shooting people, if you haven’t got a gun, it does make it harder if you should be tempted to do so.
We aren’t even allowed to carry knives in most places, and on that score the Americans are catching up. I had a penknife (with a useful corkscrew) confiscated from me at Hartsfield Jackson, when I tried to leave the airport with it. I also had to hand in my (different) penknife at the Atlanta aquarium, presumably in case I tried to stab a fish. My friend had to hand in his cigarette lighter in the same aquarium incident. Otherwise, we’d have had the beginnings of a beach barbecue between us. Unlike the airport authorities, the aquarium people did give us back our things when we left. I didn’t ask whether I’d have been allowed in with a gun. Like joking about drugs with the security guards at airports, it’s probably a bad idea.
postalThe ban on firearms on US Post Office property (other than the car park), doesn’t just apply to employees. In America, if you turn up at the post office to post a letter, there’s a sign on the door, telling you that you can’t carry a firearm inside (I don’t remember the sign telling me I couldn’t carry a bomb, but it might have done). To an unarmed Brit like me, toting no more than a penknife with a corkscrew, that isn’t a problem. However, if you hurry down to the Post Office in Dodge City to send your Aunty Martha’s birthday present off before they close, what happens when you arrive outside with your trusty Colt 45 tucked into the waistband of your trousers? Do you just leave it on the pavement (or sidewalk) while you go inside? Or are there special employees, who’ll look after your gun for you while you go in and sort out the stamps for Aunty Martha’s parcel? In a country that values enterprise, you could probably set up a little business, ‘Al’s firearm minding service’, or something. It might make money.

12 thoughts on “Going postal

  1. I had a pair of tiny nail scissors confiscated at Barcelona airport security…they were scared I might terrorise someone with long bigtoe nails I suppose…I never did get them back..which was irritating..they were my best shoplifting scissors, excellent for cutting the security tags out of posh frocks…lovely post Francis..

    • Haha. Thanks, Billierosie. I have never come across the concept of shoplifting scissors. I may incorporate them into something in the future. Glad you liked it. Xx.

  2. I always know where to come for a good chuckle, Francis. I just love your rambling absurdities. I also had my nail scissors confiscated. They were those proper ones with curved ends. I often wondered what they thought I might do with them…I found them useful for all sorts of things, none of which were life threatening.

    • Thanks, Val. I spent ten minutes at Heathrow once while the security team investigated a suspicious looking object in my man bag, which turned out to be a paperback book, when they finally decided the bag was safe to open. Glad you liked it. Xx.

  3. so it’s OK to walk into the post office with my little pen knife then.Good. Coz I did that yesterday.Amazing the way Americans have all these restrictions, yet the number of mass shootings, etc is so high. Thank goodness we have strict Gun Laws. There are a lot of people I might be tempted to shoot if we didn’t. Present company excepted.

  4. I have a very small pen knife on my key ring. It also contains scissors,a nail file, a toothpick and a tiny pair of tweezers and I’ve never thought a thing about it. I’ve had it in my handbag almost for ever and it’s been through dozens of customs checks without being spotted. When I went to Ireland recently the customs officers were more interested in checking how much channel number 19 I had in the bottle. The penknife? Sailed through as usual.

    • Chanel Number 19? Dangerous stuff. Heaven knows how many young and impressionable Irish boys you could lure away from the farm with a whole bottle of the stuff. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Xx.

  5. The American Embassy has very strict rules, mainly concerning mobile phones, and basically, you’re allowed to take nothing in but the relevant paperwork you’re hoping to get okay’d. Interestingly, there are many little shops scattered about the American Embassy in London, where for a small fee you can leave your personal belongings. Even more interesting, the fount of all human knowledge informs me that for religious reasons, Sikhs are permitted to carry their ceremonial daggers in public.

    • Haha. Thanks for that Julia. Interesting about the Sikhs. Does that mean that as a follower of The Great White Sock I’m allowed to carry my ceremonial Kalashnikov into the American embassy?

  6. Carol introduced you to us, and we are glad she did as we just love your sense of humour. Carol does know some very interesting people!
    Jay has worked for the post office in her youth, and although she loved her time there, there were days when some kind of weapon would have come in very handy!

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