Monday, April 4, 2011

People that Inspire : Postman

A postman (or mail carrier if we want to be politically correct) is a person who delivers mail. Mail carriers are employed by post offices generally, though there can be private mail couriers that would still count as postmen in my eyes.
The earliest mail system belonged to the ancient Persians – though no one can apparently pinpoint the exact point of invention. Either way, post people have been around for some time.
In those early times, the mail carriers were given the mail and sent off with a horse to deliver them. Along the way – apparently in day intervals – there would be people waiting with fresh horses and the mail carrier would then swap his horse for the new one to ensure the speed of the delivery.
Postmen in modern times – and probably ancient times as well – are forbidden to open mail addressed to someone else, enforced by federal law.
Though in this age, paper mail is quickly dying out (much like paper books) to make way for electronic messages and mail.

To forge a story from something like this, you must figure out how it can be different than it seems. From the things I wrote above, three things stand out. Thus, I see three things that can be manipulated into something that differs from the norm to form a story.

1) There were new horses waiting for postmen in ancient times to ensure the speed of delivery.
2) Postmen are not allowed to open other people’s mail.
3) Paper mail is a dying form.

In number one, the deviation is this. What if there wasn’t a horse waiting for a mail carrier on a tired horse? He may be holding an important letter. Speed was essential for mail delivery in those times. What does the mail carrier do? Why wasn’t there a horse waiting?

Number two. What if a certain postman sees something on a letter that intrigues him and decides to open it, despite regulation and law? Upon opening it, he finds a letter to someone important with dangerous information in it; threats or illegal dealings or worse. Maybe there is information inside that puts the postman in danger when the wrong person sees him reading it.

Number three. With paper mail dying, the future could be one that has no post office. A dying old man – the last of the postmen – is recruited by the government – afraid of interception via electronic means – to take a message across hazardous land, using all the skills and talent he had as a postman to achieve it.

To paraphrase Orson Scott Card, always ask what else could happen.

Herewith is my attempt at flash fiction (feel free to leave an opinion or a piece of flash fiction based on postmen – 200 words or less in this case – of your own in the comments):

Bill quivered in front of the massive oak desk that housed the Lord of Mail. The huge man finally put down the paper he had been reading and turned his attention to Bill.
“What is it?”
“Sir, you should look at this,” Bill said, sliding the letter in his hands across the impossibly smooth desk.
As the thin eyes scanned the lines quickly, the Lord of Mail’s face grew more furrowed.
“Where did you get this?”
“It was in my bag of mail and–“
“You opened someone else’s mail?” the Lord of Mail yelled, slamming his fist on the table.
“Yes, sir, but for a good cause! The president is planning on betraying his country.”
“You know what the penalty is, don’t you? Execution of your entire family.”
Bill’s throat felt like a postbox.
“But sir, the president...” Bill began.
“Joshua, take care of this.”
The Lord of Mail’s personal body guard appeared behind Bill and slit his throat. As the red ink in Bill’s veins dripped to the floor, Bill felt the guilt of sending a copy of the letter to Internal Affairs fade away. No one would open the mail, of that, Bill was sure.


  1. Cool post and love the picture! Whatever happened to mailboys and girls? I think that's a dying form too, like post mail. Thank God for email though, it's so much faster and easier.

  2. Thanks for reading and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Sorry for the late reply.