Rumor has it that Bartleby, the scrivener, previously worked in the Dead Letter Office and it had an adverse affect on his affect. That is, it sort of rubbed him wrong, or right, depending on your point of view staring out the window all day at a brick wall. But that’s another story I would prefer not to get too into.
When you say Dead Letter Office, I might say: REM album from 1987 that I paid no mind, as it was between Lifes Rich Pageant in 86 and Document in 87. Some say it wasn’t even an album, more of a compilation. Whatever. Nomenclature. Jibber jabber. Blah blah blah. I’m an REM fan pre-1991, but that’s another story I would prefer not to get too into too.
When I say Dead Letter Office I’m referring to what the USPS now calls the Mail Recovery Center. The place where mail with bogus addresses and no return address goes to die. Employees there make an effort to redirect the mail if there’s any hope at all. If all avenues have been taken and it’s totally dead, they open it and trash it or auction off anything of value.
I have this romantic notion in my mind, an image of overflowing piles of drunken love letters written to old flames that moved away years ago, Christmas lists to Santa, hate mail, fan letters, delusions and clueless scribbling. Many people out there do not know how to address an envelope or affix proper postage or embrace the concept of a return address. It’s amazing how many things actually get delivered. It took me years to address my postcards to Shaggy with the proper directional. But the mail carriers in Milwaukee were looking out for me because I never put my return address on postcards. I’m no USPS worker, I’m an electric assist Mr. McFeely cycling in the margins of futility but I get my hands on some mail here and there and I get to see some clueless scribblings. It’s as if the sender believes people will read their minds and realize what they meant to say, not what they actually said. That goes for simple campus mail as well as international letters.
When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail."