Rage Against the Sorting Machine


Over at Stats.org, Trevor Butterworth works himself into a frenzy over the latest in rage-oriented trend stories, considers the evolution of "holiday rage," and puts all the blame right where it belongs: on the U.S. Postal Service.

Other recent examples of "whatever rage" include "airport rage," "tip rage," and "gnome rage" (this was casually described by the Swindon Advertiser as a "drunken rage," that resulted in a violent attack on several garden gnomes, but someone has to look out for the little people).

The etiology of "whatever rage" as a syndrome in popular culture owes much to the idea that working for the United States Postal Service was a distinct pathological activity, given the number of times disgruntled postal workers turned up at work and shot their colleagues and superiors….

Thanks to media hype and references in "The Simpsons," the term "going postal" became synonymous with workplace rage even though the CDC found that the occupational homicide rate for postal workers didn't exceed the rate for all workers in the U.S. in the 1980s.

Whole thing here.


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  1. My father in law works for the USPS. I can aver from personal knowledge that they had a culture that was even more corrosive and hostile than the worst that I experienced in the U.S. Navy.

    Abusive managers and supervisors can get away with a lot of bullying of their employees. Because the job has a nice pension and pays better than other professions available to them, alot of the sad-sacks try to sit out the abuse. Occasionally one of them snaps.

    It’s not as bad as it used to be, but it’s still pretty bad.

  2. The linked study by CDC found that there was some indication of a higher rate of homicide by co-workers among postal workers:

    Although the occupational homicide rate for the Postal Service industry is similar to the national rate for all industries, coworkers appear to be disproportionately responsible for homicides that occur in the Postal Service. During 1992, 82% of work-related homicides were associated with robberies or miscellaneous crimes; only 4% were committed by coworkers or former coworkers. By comparison, the NTOF data in this report, supplemented with information from the newspaper review, indicated that 57% (20/35) of work-related homicides of postal workers from 1983 through 1989 were committed by coworkers or former coworkers. However, 14 of the 20 coworker homicides occurred in a single incident. The remaining 15 postal worker homicides were presumed to have been committed by persons who were not Postal Service employees.

  3. Kerry,

    If you bothered to read the article you posted, you’d see that Trevor blamed “media hype and references in ‘The Simpsons,'” not the Post Office. However, jp’s post suggests that postal workers do have that rage thing going. Maybe you’re right and Trevor’s wrong.

  4. Maybe it’s just me that sees delivering the mail as a low stress, fairly well compensated job, but i doubt it. If you can walk, have an IQ above room temperature, and are not lazier than a sedated house cat, it seems like a pretty good deal. My sister delivers the mail and agrees with this.

  5. Thanks to the postal union and their CYA attitude, the cunt who physically assaulted my wife got to keep her job, while my wife lost hers. Said cunt is universally recognized as one of the laziest employees they have, whereas my wife was one of the hardest working. Bitter? Me?

  6. My wife said she read an article about “desk rage”. It’s supposedly some sort of white collar anger and frustration.

  7. Was Mrs. damaged justice not in the union too?

  8. …the job has a nice pension and pays better than other professions available to them…

    tarran beat me to it, but it bears repeating: the Post Office is one of the very few places where a working stiff without a college degree can walk in and get a relatively well-compensated job. The reason the rank and file postal workers often put up with the bullying is that they are convinced they have no viable alternative.

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