Insufficient postage


Insufficient postage

You Can't Even Mail the Mail Anymore

I WENT TO the post office to mail out some book orders, and also to send my mom a book she'd given us for Christmas and of which we'd accidentally carried off her personal copy as well. The book for my mom, I put in a cardboard Priority Mail envelope, but when I tried to seal it, the flap started to tear, so I switched to one of those floppy Tyvek Priority Mail envelopes instead. Then I printed out an address-and-postage label at the self-service kiosk, stuck it on the envelope where the label markings were, and went over to deposit it into one of the big clunky parcel drops.

I was about to reach for the handle when I noticed something at my feet: the postage label I'd just printed out. It had fallen off the Priority Mail envelope. I picked it up and stuck it back on, and it immediately fell off again. The adhesive was too weak, or the synthetic surface of the envelope was too slippery, or both. Who knows? It's not a thing you're supposed to need to troubleshoot, how a United States Postal Service postage label does or doesn't stick onto a United States Postal Service envelope.

Remember Louis DeJoy? He came on as postmaster general under Donald Trump and the mail delivery immediately collapsed into chaos while he talked about reinventing operations and disciplining the budget or whatever, business-goon stuff. And then Joe Biden got elected but Louis DeJoy kept on being postmaster general, the way Trump's FBI director kept on directing the FBI and Trump's Federal Reserve chair kept on chairing the Federal Reserve. What news there is about DeJoy says that he is grumbling about answering questions about his 10-year plan for the Postal Service and that mail service was bad again in the holiday season.

The question of whether someone else could do a better job seems to have gone away. Too many other problems to think about. But what would have happened to my package if the label had lasted five more seconds before it fell off? What have you got left, civilization-wise, if you can't put some postage on a piece of mail and get it delivered?

I took the envelope and label up to the window, along with all the things I'd had to take to the window anyway, because the self-service kiosks don't let you send media mail. I apologetically told the clerk the label kept falling off, and he showed no particular surprise. Nor was there some secret trick to make it work. He just got his tape dispenser and tacked the label on with clear tape. Whatever was happening, whoever was to blame, the Postal Service was not achieving new efficiencies.


Brief Reviews of Games on My Computer

Wordle: The Wordle habit became four or five times more enjoyable when I gave up on trying to start each day with a word I'd never used before.

Letter Boxed: Every morning I think about how much I dislike this game, as I settle in to play it.

20 Words // 20 Seconds: Fiendish yet easygoing. If you've ever successfully typed in 20 words in 20 seconds, I don't want to hear about it.

Baldur's Gate 3: Downloading this requires more memory than the entire available space on my MacBook Air, and when I try to put it on a thumb drive instead, the download instantly pauses out whenever I begin. The younger kid seems to be enjoying it on his PC, at least, even though every time I look he's getting killed.

Spelling Bee: Out of all the completely valid English words this game refuses to recognize, I go back and forth between whether HOOPOE or INTINCTION makes me the maddest. NOOB counts but INCEL doesn't? Go to hell.


New York City, January 18, 2024

★★★ Icicles hung down from a green Subaru. The streets were gray with old salt, dissolved and recrystallized, and the sky was gray with the chance of new snow. Dog turds were more of a menace underfoot than ice at the moment. The air stung bare hands and breathing hurt a little. A fine, unfriendly snow began blowing right around noon. The sun, which had been a dim white circle, became a shapeless smudge.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 201: An urgent desire.

Tom Scocca • Jan 19, 2024


READERS OF INDIGNITY who have previously benefited from the Bluesky-code generosity of other readers of Indignity are now daily paying it forward and providing us with even more codes for the still-beta social network. If you haven’t already gotten a code from us, we have lots of codes. Email and we will award Bluesky codes to those who respond, one per reader, first email, first served.


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of sandwiches from Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes, developed by the Bureau of Home Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in 1927, these recipes are now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Chop celery fine, add it to peanut butter or ground peanuts, and a little cream or milk. Spread this mixture between slices of whole-wheat or Graham bread.

Chop hard-cooked eggs up fine and season them with salt and pepper. Add half as much finely chopped celery and enough mayonnaise to make the mixture easy to spread.

Use about 2 tablespoons of chili sauce to 1/2 cup of baked beans, mash the mixture till it is smooth, and spread on brown bread, or Graham bread.

Put shelled roasted peanuts through a food chopper, using the medium fine knife. Do not use the nut knife, because it grinds the peanuts too fine. Mix the ground nuts with just enough cream to moisten and make the mixture suitable to spread. Add salt to taste. Spread this mixture on Graham or whole-wheat bread.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to


The second printing of 19 FOLK TALES is now available for belated Holiday gift-giving and personal perusal! Huddle up against the cold with a cozy collection of stories, each of which is concise enough to read within the snowy part of a wintry-mix storm.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

FLAMING HYDRA will launch in January of 2024. The FLAMING HYDRA Holiday Preview Spectacular, a rich sampling of the writing and art you’ll enjoy as a subscriber to the forthcoming daily newsletter, is available now for your inspection. FLAMING HYDRA is the work of 60 world-class talents, but that’s just one reason to subscribe. FLAMING HYDRA is a 100% cooperatively owned, ad-free publication with no owners and no investors; just a bunch of writers and artists working together and splitting the proceeds equally.

INDIGNITY is a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. We appreciate and depend on your support!