June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014

Frank Yankers

When ZIP codes were introduced in 1963,
this fella—"Mr. Zip."—was used to educate the public
about the new system. WHY DID THE GOVERNMENT
STOP DOING THIS? Obamacare would have been a
zillion times more successful with an adorable
animated mascot.
Despite our childhood dreams of becoming astronauts, cowboys, and/or President of the United States, by now we’ve settled into our ultimate career fields, yes? Whether by virtue of education, experience, nepotism, or bribery, you have a job and—let’s be honest—it’s probably a little late in the game to quit everything and pursue a career in sand sculpture.

(Unless you’re reading this while still in school. Children of the world: Follow your dreams! Anything is possible! I’m sure plenty of paying work exists for English majors!)

Yet I think we all occasionally hear about a gig that makes us think “what if.” For the athletically-inclined, has the World Cup has brought back memories of college soccer* greatness? Did the National Spelling Bee make you wish Webster had pursued a system of human rather than paper dictionaries? Does trivia night make you realize that producing questions based on uncommon and archaic knowledge is quite possibly the one area in which you could be a functional rather than a support employee?

(Not to crap all over my chose field, but administration is not at all sexy or interesting to talk about at parties. It is in fact one of the main reasons I avoid attending parties, the others being my misanthropy, my crippling social anxiety, and the tragic lack of spinach dip at 99% of parties.)

Anyway, the daily Now I Know trivia newsletter today introduced me to yet another job I think I could have killed at: Postal Service data conversion operator.

(You should subscribe to NIK, both because it will make you a better, more informed person and because you obviously have time to read amusing things in the middle of the day.)

In short, data conversion operators translate wonky handwritten addresses on letters and packages into something the computers understand, keeping the mail flowing while simultaneously assisting our future robot overlords. It’s quite possible that the only thing keeping us from the idyll of the Matrix is the insistence of people (let’s be honest: old people) on addressing things in cursive. I’m all for calligraphy on notable documents, but does the envelope my birthday card comes in REALLY need to look like the Magna Carta? *dismissive hair flip, followed by two snaps*

The New York Times article about this whole operation also mentions “impossible letters, like the one addressed to the house ‘down the street from the drugstore on the corner’ or one intended for ‘the place next to the red barn.’” It’s been 51 years since the introduction of the ZIP code, so I reiterate: Humanity, we are doomed.

But if you have to spend the time between now and the day the computers seal you in a pod to harvest your body’s electricity in order to run a universal computer simulation doing something, it might as well be something like this. Something that makes everyone’s lives a little easier.

* Or, if you went to school in Latin America, fútbol. ¡Olé!**
** I don’t actually understand how the upside-down punctuation works (is it mandatory?), but I like the idea of it.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: