Yes, we know the President has charged you to eliminate waste, diddling and bureaucratic bloat, and we know you have come to town with the best of intentions of doing just that, but what you don't know yet is that every third government employee is assigned to answering the weird mail that pours in from the populace.
This is the same populace, we remind you, that elected your Leader, and if you don't answer their letters they will write to their congressmen. Congressmen always answer their mail. They have special staffers whose only function is to bug the bureaucracy on behalf of slighted citizens. This generates even more mail, and will cut into your lunch time. Sometimes the complaints go to the White House, and sometimes something is done about it. So answer those letters, or you may find yourself on the bus back to Peoria.
Besides, once you get the hang of it, dealing with nut mail can be fun. Here are a couple of examples by old pros: Meteorologist in Charge U.S. Weather Service Forecast Office Dear Mr. [Deleted]:
I keep hearing the rumor that your agency will soon be able to predict the emotional ka2 conditions for a region. At first I dismissed these stories as patent nonsense, but now I'm not so sure. After all, physical conditions are known to alter behavior. The presence of negative and positive ions in the air, for example, has a documented influence on human beings. Certain winds are said to have a noticeable influence on the crime rate: the mistral in France, the sirocco in the southern Mediterranean, and the Santa Ana in California. (Raymond Chandler used the influence of this last wind as a device in some of his stories.)
However, I'm told that you people will be able to make predictions of the mood, or the emotional climate, of a region with previously unimaginable accuracy. I'd like to know if this is the case. Will we be hearing this sort of forecast on the radio?: there's a squabble moving in from the west. . . Conditions should be mostly amicable this afternoon with a chance of bellicosity by the weekend. . . We're expecting widely scattered spats with a slight chance of bickering in outlying regions. . . It should be affable in the city and slightly more peevish near the shore. . .
I find this entire subject so incredible that I hesitated to write you, but now I'd certainly appreciate any information you could give me. Is there really a scale called the Emotional-Meteorological Index (the EMI) that correlates weather conditions and behavioral tendencies?
One other, rather minor, question: if the head of the U.S. Postal Service is called the Postmaster General, and we have a Surgeon General, then why isn't the head of the National Weather Service called the Weatherman General? It doesn't seem fair to me. Incidentally, the weather this past week has been lovely; thank you very much.
I look forward to hearing from you. Yours, Randy Cohen Dear Mr. Cohen:
Recently there has been quite a surge of publications correlating the weather with human physiology. I have heard rumors that some areas in Europe give a biometeorology forecast. This is not being considered in this country.
I have neither read nor heard of any publications correlating weather with psychological effects. I doubt if this will every happen, at least in my career. This afternoon we are having difficult enough time trying to predict when and where there will be thunderstorms. The responsibility of issuing a Marital Disagreement Watch or a Flash Temper Warning is something I can do without.
Though the Director of the National Weather Service does not have the title of Weatherman General, there are some advantages. The Postmaster General is a political appointment and the incumbent tends to disappear with each change in administration. Sincerely, [Deleted] Meterologist in Charge Postmaster General U.S. Postal Service Washington, D.C. 20260 Dear General [Deleted],
You certainly are getting a lot of criticism for suggesting an increase in postal rates and the possible elimination of Saturday delivery. However, I believe I have a way to save the 15 stamp. Why not deliver the mail only on Saturday? Let's face it, people get very few things that they must ka2 have by Thursday. To be honest, what difference does it make if your letter comes on Tuesday? If people can get used to going to church only once a week, well then they can get used to once a week mail delivery. What's more important: junk mail or the Lord? (You can use that slogan if you want to.)
If that doesn't save enough money to save the 15 stamp, I propose that you go to once-a-month delivery. People would still get their checks and bills, their magazines and ads, their personal letters and odds and ends in due time. You could call the delivery day Mail Day, and it could be a monthly holiday. There would be celebrations and parties and fiestas in Hispanic neighborhoods. Receiving all your mail on one day each month would certainly produce a sense of occassion; people would love it. Remember that Jo Stafford song from 1951, "Shrimp Boats are comin'; there's dancin' tonight!" You could produce a record called "Mail Trucks are comin'; there's readin' tonight!". That would help everyone get used to the idea.
Each of these plans would save money and promote efficiency and high productivity. Remember that President Carter said that we Americans may have to get used to a lower standard of living. Well, the Postal Service could take the lead in lowering our standards. We must all decline together. (I'm doing my bit by wearing old clothes, eating worse and eliminating every other haircut.)
I'm quite interested in learning your reaction to these ideas. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours, Randy Cohen Dear Mr. Cohen:
I appreciate the cleverness of your letter. It was witty. It was creative. It was of no earthly use to me, except for the laugh.
"We must all decline together," you said. I decline that invitation, thank you. Sincerely, [Deleted]