April 15th, 2009

Post Office Appreciation Day

            This week saw many important events – the recovery of an American ship captain from pirates, the making of an international celebrity (Susan Boyle – if you haven’t seen this yet, YouTube it and be amazed), but most importantly this week we celebrate Post Office Appreciation Day.  April 15th marks this yearly holiday, and each year you can find long lines of anxious celebratants sharing in the joy of the Post Office by having their documents post-marked “no later than April 15th…”

Over the years, some Post Offices have even gone the extra mile by staying open til mid-night ensuring those procrastinators among us (yes, you know if I’m talking to you) had the chance to get their parcels marked with this illustrious date.

            Each year, millions of Americans celebrate this holiday, but this year’s revels presented news worthy events.  Perhaps you don’t think you heard about Post-Office Appreciation Day on your nightly news coverage, but if you were watching carefully you saw the headlines – “Tea Parties Across the Nation on April 15th” “Hundreds Gather in Washington DC for ‘Tea Party’ Celebration”.  An appropriate activity for April the 15th. Obviously these tea parties were to remind Americans of the slow paced times before Post Offices when (for lack of correspondence, current events, and loads of solicitations promising increases in our pocket-size from both financial and more… physiological factors) citizens quietly sipped tea all day and accomplished very little.  But all that changed with the gallant United States Postal Service – come rain or shine, snow or strangely warm days in the middle of February that make us all think that Spring will arrive early but then disappear amid a two-foot deluge of packed snow only 90-minutes after a 70 degree high (can you tell I spent my last 5 years in Utah?).  Yes, the Post Office gives us a lot to celebrate.

            You may ask though, “From whence does the genesis of this auspicious holiday spark?”  To which, I would answer “Who are you Shakespeare?” – But then, in my classic geek style, I’d begin to explore the origins of the festivities re-emerging each April 15th.  Let’s begin with the first United States Post Office.

            One day in July of 1775, a Muggle called Ben Franklin accidentally found his way into Diagon Alley, and catching the witch on guard there by surprise, was pelted with a barge of nasty curses causing him to engage in many strange activities to include: hanging a key on the string of a kite while flying it during a lightning storm; subliminally preparing the country to obsess over any book with the name “Harry Potter” in it (bet you wondered where we got that from… the founding fathers, who else?); and to establish the first Post Office – which he immediately did… in Philadelphia… even though he was in England when he wandered down that alley… and historical accounts of his athletic ability leave the possibility of a one-hour swim across the Atlantic gravely questionable…

            Ok, so maybe I’m having another one of my “moments” where I mix reality with “Potter”ity (is that even a word?  And btw, how the hell do you spell fullaufel?).  We do, in reality, have Benjamin Franklin to thank for establishing the first Post Office on July 26th, 1775 though.  He has acting upon the authority laid out by a little document called the Constitution (don’t worry if you’re not familiar with it.  It seems to constantly be forgotten these days).  Article 1, Section 8 (you don’t have to be a nerd to reference specific sections… you just have to have access to Wikipedia) outs forth the right to establish “post offices and post roads” (“post roads” are, course the opposite of “pre-roads” which are… those things… that they have… around… that place… in Connecticut.  Hmmm… my history seems to be hazy here.  Perhaps one of the history majors in my family can refresh my memory, but I am fairly sure they do sell filawfells on “post-roads”.  Moving on…) I believe section 8 also gives Congress the right to levy and collect taxes, but I’m not sure why that is relevant to a discussion of the importance of April 15th, so forget I brought it up.

            The natural question here is, “If the first Post Office was established on July 26th, then why do we celebrate Post Office Appreciation Day on April 15th?”  Let us look to history to find what makes April 15th providential enough to host this paragon of a day.  Perhaps it was chosen to honor the birth of Leonardo da Vinci.  He was born April 15th, 1452.  And before you go saying he didn’t have anything to do with Post Offices in America, remember the lesson of The Da Vinci code – with enough creativity and gullible audience members, Da Vinci can be involved in EVERYTHING!  (For example The Da Vinci Code 2 – Origins of the Potter Obsession clearly proves that Da Vinci was part of a secret society aimed at preparing the world for the coming of Harry Potter.  In fact, in the movie we clearly see the in-person recruitment of Benjamin Franklin to this secret order by Da Vinci himself.  Thus, we have irrefutable proof of the historical accuracy of this rendezvous.)

            Of course, if April 15th wasn’t chosen in homage to Leonard da Vinci’s birth, it very well could be related to another important birth on April 15th; namely Emma Watson.  She is better known by her character name, Hermione Granger, and was born April 15th, 1990.  This theory is admittedly a little weak considering my tendency to make all things relate to Harry Potter.  Not to mention, 1955 marks the first year Post Office Appreciation Day was celebrated en masse, which pre-dates Emma’s birth by 35 years.  But as my astrophysicist brother (in-training) explains to me, time and space are not as simple as Star Trek makes them out to be.  Perhaps there is an explanation that correlates this 35-year post-facto birth and Post Office Appreciation Day, but let us explore one more theory (and I promise that was the last Harry Potter reference… though there are no guarantees about further misspellings of the word faluful.)

            The theory with the most credibility, in my mind, takes us back to April 15th, 1912 early in the morning.  In the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean that morning, the Titanic, the unsinkable ship, sank.  Over a thousand lives were lost.  The mightiest ship of the sea disappeared to leave us only with grief, questions, and an award-winning movie circa 1997 where we got to see Kate Winslet naked with only a PG-13 rating.  What, oh what, could the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th have to do with the current American holiday?  Easy: modern science has shown* that if the Titanic had had a United States Post Office on-board, they would have received adequate warning about the icebergs ahead.  Come rain or shine, snow or iceberg, the USPS delivers!  In memoriam of this tragic preventable loss, we celebrate Post Office Appreciation Day each April 15th.  May no accident preventable by Postman occur again.

            Knowing the background of this holiday is certain to bring a more festive cheer to all those who celebrate it.  And if that wasn’t enough, to help the celebrations the Government has generously donated over $800 billion dollars to “stimulate” use of the postal service!!  What a great country we live in.  $800 billion dollars, millions of mailings, and years of history all caught up in one day – April 15th.  We

We should get Susan Boyle to sing a song about it (or perhaps just eat a folaffel.)


* Scientific research involved a questionnaire asked fifteen history students at the University of Wyoming whether, in their expert opinion, the presence of a postal outlet aboard the Titanic would have averted the iceberg disaster.  The responses of the students who incorrectly associated “postal outlet” with a rampage of senseless violence, were not included in the final analysis.

PS  Just for good measure - fulafal