Being a letter carrier has unexpected consequences. I can’t speak to the craziness that’s going on today; I suspect it tops my mundane stories, one of which involves delivering department store flyers containing scratch n’ sniff perfume advertisements. Oh, sounds fragrant, eh? A nice antidote to the dog poop that inadvertently sneaks into your oven-of-a-jeep on the bottom of your unsuspecting shoes? Well, not exactly.
Imagine a stripped down WWII Army style Jeep. According to postal regulations, you have closed and locked the windows and doors, parked as close to shade as you possibly can, and walked a half-mile loop in 100-degree heat with your arms and satchel straining to contain one flyer per household—all containing perfumed inserts. Let’s imagine that only 5% of said inserts fall out of said flyers and join one another for a party in the bowels of your bag. It matters not, because, when you return to your trusty Jeep, all those inserts for the remaining houses on your route have been baking and releasing their sexy scent into the close atmosphere of your nearly airtight Jeep.
For someone like me, with no fragrance allergies or other maladies of the body, the Shalimar, White Shoulder, Opium, or Chanel #5 are mere annoyances. But imagine my surprise upon returning to the office after a long, hot day locked up with fragrance inserts, to my supervisor following me to my work station, his nostrils distended, a puzzled look upon his face.
“Is there a problem?” I ask, mildly irritated, conscious of my summer sweat factor.
“Well, ah . . . ” he responds, clearly uncomfortable. “I had a complaint today . . . someone from your route.”
“Yes?” I respond, wondering what the hey….
He steps closer and takes an audible sniff. I back away; this is clearly inappropriate behavior, especially given the pressure cooker of a day I’ve just endured.
“Well, actually, ah . . . Mrs. C, at 1915 S. Cataldo, complained that her carrier wears too much perfume. She’s . . . ah . . . hyper-sensitive to fragrances and the mail you left in her box today made her violently ill.” His eyebrows peaked to match my own.
And then I laugh. Out loud. I grab the Postal satchel, with its handful of extra perfume-laden flyers and shove it toward his nose. “Ya suppose it was this that made her ill?” I inquire.
He coughs and steps back. “Oh.”
I rather suspect that those perfume-laden flyers have found a new delivery venue by now. But never fear, the ever-scheming United States Postal Service has devised a new torture for employees and patrons, alike. The US Postal Service is releasing a scratch ‘n sniff stamp! Do we really need popsicle stamps? Aren’t talking greeting cards annoyance enough? Weren’t the cool thermochromic, eclipse stamps of 2017 techie enough? I guess not. Any gimmick to sell stamps…especially the most lucrative ones that land in philately collections, thereby provide 100% profit to the service.