The time of year has come for the great Christmas race between the tortoise and the hare. Those who know Aesop’s fable, know it as a moralizing tale. In this case, it involves a total lack of morals whatsoever. This race is also symbolic — the hare is the representative body of United Parcel Service and the tortoise is the United States Postal Service. Each year they compete for the affections of a public determined to send Christmas presents to relatives, friends and colleagues. The millions of boxes shipped is a major financial present for both agencies. How they handle it in their own ways is unique.
UPS is the greatest legal slave driver in the U.S. A few extra drivers and helpers are hired each season to help with the colossal overload that hits them starting in November. The newbies are forced to join the union, although the union won’t move a toe to do anything for them. They are also issued Fascist Brownshirt attire (also symbolic) and stuffed into trucks laden to the bursting point. The goal is to run around like a maniac until the boxes are delivered.
Safety techniques are taught, then mentally dismissed the first day as unpractical for one has to run around like an electrocuted chicken to get the job done. So huge is the work load that there is no time for breaks and to even take a lunch stop is almost impossible.
Everything is run with a Nazi like efficiency and an SS like ruthlessness. Contrary to the heart warming, fuzzy UPS ads that appear on television this time of year depicting the smiling carriers casually handing a package to a housewife, deliverers are instructed not to spend any time in gabbing and to constantly be on the move to the next stop. Home deliveries are given one quick bell ring, then left before the front door. Perhaps a better symbol of the speed needed would be the cheetah, but that would ruin the allusion.
Meanwhile, over at the Post Office, things couldn’t be more different. Being a monolithic governmental agency they are accustomed to taking their time. Come Christmas they can afford to hire ‘casual’, non-union people to help them over the time of year when those working behind the scenes might actually work up a sweat. The new people are not union and never will be, so they can be treated like excrement and then given the boot once Christmas is over and work once again becomes a leisurely diversion from spending the higher than normal wages that Federal employees make.
The union is so strong that it is almost impossible to get fired for any infraction short of murder (although some have tried to get away with it) and they know it. It is common for warehouse people on the night shift to spend half their time sitting in the cafeteria area talking or sleeping. Newman, in the Seinfeld TV series, was not a character wrought out of sheer fantasy, there are Newmans ‘working’ in the back of Post Offices across the nation.
Each year the comical race of the tortoise and the hare repeats itself. Were a behind the scenes postal worker to ever turn coat and work for UPS, they would be dead of exhaustion within a week. Would a UPS person do the same and work for the postal service, they would probably fall asleep from boredom and get run over by a forklift driver.