In case you missed it, yesterday (Aug 20) was the 20th anniversary of the deadliest case of “Going Postal” on record.
On Aug. 20, 1986, Patrick Henry Sherrill tucked two .45-caliber pistols into his postal satchel, locked the doors of a post office in this Oklahoma City suburb and systematically killed 14 people, then committed suicide.
”The screams hurt me emotionally more than the bullet did when it hit my back,” said Bigler, one of six people wounded in the attack. “They screamed in terror when they screamed their last breath. He wanted to slaughter us all.”
In the two decades since Sherrill’s rampage, the U.S. Postal Service has tried to prevent worker violence, but there have been other attacks. Nearly 50 people have died in post office violence since the 1980s, including six postal workers who were shot in January at a mail-processing center in Santa Barbara, Calif., by a former postal worker who killed herself. — Miami Hurled, 8/20/06
This morning I reach “Cap” Stickum, whose kicked off a career with the Post Office as a letter carrier in 1970, and went on to serve as an officer in the union, retiring last December.
“That was a bad one,” he confirms. “That’s the one that got people wondering what it is about the Post Office that brings about these things.”
Sore feet? Crabby customers? Boredom? Psychopathic personalities?
“Well, no more than anywhere else. You can’t tell me that normal people wanna be cops, firemen, or sewer workers. Or teachers, fer chrissake. Who’s more twisted than teachers?”
“But here’s the thing. Twenty-five years in the union and I meet thousands of postal workers. I ask ‘em what they like about their jobs, and they say, Good benefits, Regular paycheck, I like working outdoors most of the time, like that. Once in a while somebody says they like working with people or they like their colleagues, but not often. But nobody ever says they like the work they do. Nobody becomes a postal service employee because they like delivering mail, or licking stamps, or serving the public.”
No Philatelists need apply, eh?
“Even teachers, you find people who say they like education, they like teaching, they find the job rewarding. In 25 years, no postal employee ever told me they found the job ‘rewarding’. So you got a bunch of bored careerists watching the clock and waiting to retire for 35 years. That’s tough. People snap.”
So what’s on tap for the 20th anniversary?
“Nothing. Nada. Typically, we ‘re pretending it never happened. Why draw attention to the fact that there’s a gigantic uniformed labor force packed with armed psychotic maniacs visiting every residence and building in America on a daily basis?”
I was hoping for a commemorative stamp, at least.
“Sure you were. And I guess you’re hoping somebody breaks the record of 14 dead and 6 wounded in a single attack, too.”
Not while I’m on the premises, no.
“Well, it could always happen. But I’m outta there. And I’m outa here, too.” He hangs up.
The post office is one of the many institutions I avoid at all costs, along with banks, municipal services offices, and (recently) FEMA. It’s just too infuriating to conduct business with the army of paper-pushing morons who staff these industries. It’s enough to send a man postal. Patrick Henry Sherrill, I can relate.