Priority Mail Thievery

Our throwaway society can be somewhat hilarious even while tragic, such as the widespread desperation to keep upgrading our phones (and Kate McKinnon acting hilariously on a TV ad while telling us we all deserve this). Or the true story told me of a millennial who tossed week-old leftovers—along with the cooking pot they were in.

We grew up frugal, and if one is resourceful, frugality is no poverty. My wife Carrie is brilliant in this: She pursues the art of “repurposing,” making fancy women’s bags from old drapes, or decorating an Airbnb rental in a classy way with entirely used goods. But the pursuit can get weird sometimes, like when she repurposes United States Postal Service supplies. You see, I understand the expected arrangement: the USPS provides a nice box in the right size, with “Priority Mail” printed in red and blue all over it, and in return for the free box, handy adhesive closure, and flat rate, one pays for their shipping service. The contract is broken, however, when one packages something with a Priority box and then tapes over their logos and ships it by FedEx using a ParcelMonkey discount. And presumably one shouldn’t use these to package up Christmas gifts that aren’t being mailed at all. USPS doesn’t recover its costs when wrapping it in the bedroom and walking it over to the tree.

But that’s not all: she doesn’t just repurpose these Priority boxes for their boxing feature. She cuts them up for basic carboard use. Just flip over a few of our kid’s graduation pictures and observe what they’re backed with. Or that shimmed table leg: Priority shimmed. Flower pots need something to hold up that soil while allowing some drainage. Anything structural may need some ridged bracing; a flattened box gets you two strong layers, you know.

Carrie did actually use a Priority Mail package once with the intent to pay USPS, but it was an old and expired size, so she reboxed it with a new one to get the flat rate.

I suppose it’s a bit of an ethical thing for me, Carrie pilfering those boxes that were given out in good faith, but more than taking any high road here, my concern is the legal ramifications. According to the fine print, there’s an implication that the “Postmaster General” will have a beef with us if she is found out. I mean, that’s a title that demands reckoning. The Surgeon General warns us; the Postmaster General threatens us. We all know this person by name, right? Okay, maybe not, but I’m sure he or she wears a badge, or at least a very cool patch. And when that federal official comes knocking on our door, I will recognize the identity of the miffed master. And in my estimation, about five hundred bucks will be due plus fines and perhaps some jail time.

So, I’ll take the blame magnanimously and confess to her crimes myself. The Postmaster will escort me away.  I’ll bring with me only a small flat-rate Priority box holding some cash, and I’ll fill a duffel with socks, underwear, and hotel shampoos for the hoosegow. Actually, no, she needs the duffel so I’ll use a plastic WinCo bag.

Copyright © 2022 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.

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