Friday, August 7, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, IN - Local grump Larry Cousins received a welcome surprise in the form of a twenty-five thousand dollar stimulus grant, saving his job as senior docent at the Museum of Postal Rampage. The museum chronicles the bloody history of postal employee mayhem throughout the ages. As Cousins gave me a tour, we passed a senior group, staring at a diorama of the Great Pyramids. In the foreground, dummies depicted ancient Egyptian customers, attempting to mail papyrus scrolls, fleeing an enraged postal worker who stabbed wildly with a long spear.
In the galleries, clusters of school kids drifted between displays and artwork. A thick crowd formed around a video montage devoted to feminist pioneer Gale Pilsen. A Hartford, Connecticut window clerk, Pilsen smashed the gender barrier, becoming the first female postal worker to snap and go feral. In 1978, Pilsen shot seven customers and a supervisor before falling under a storm of bullets fired by police and co-workers.
Cousins stopped in the great hall of weapons. "Every weapon here was found at the scene of a post office rampage," he said morosely, sipping from a pint of Canadian Club. Cousins pointed to a pair of English crossbows. "Back in 1352, the Royal Collector of Post left Windsor Castle and walked into the courtyard on his break. He removed those two crossbows, hidden in the bottom of a cart. Reentering the castle, the Royal Collector shot the first person he saw, pinning a groom to the wall like a butterfly specimen. While reloading, the man was hacked to death by guards and children using swords and axes." Cousins huffed. "He probably wasn't appreciated. Nope, not one bit."
Next, Cousins pointed to a pair of flintlock pistols, a musket, and a tomahawk, taken from the body of Hansel Vonderhyde, the first American postal worker to flip out. Cousins explained: "In 1775, Ben Franklin hired Vonderhyde as a postal clerk in Bale, Pennsylvania. Two months later, a customer entered the post office with a poorly wrapped parcel. Vonderhyde went berserk and scalped him. He then charged into the street and wiped out half of Bale until the militia shot off his torso with a cannon."
Cousins knew them all - the Lugars and Uzis and AR-15s. But one question stumped him: "Why do they 'go postal?' Maybe it's the musty smell of mail that draws out the brute in a man." Cousins finished his pint and threw the whiskey bottle down, shattering glass across the floor. "Maybe they got tired of being passed over for promotion." Cousins removed a Thompson .45 caliber submachine gun from the wall. "Or else some sissy coward wrote them up for having a 'bad attitude.'" He released the bolt, sending a bumblebee-sized round into the chamber. "Maybe they got fed up with stupid questions."
With a roaring stutter, the Thompson spoke as Cousins opened fire on the senior group. But his burst was high, clipping off ball caps. By the time he lowered the muzzle, the seniors had scattered and gone to cover like quail. "Maybe someone is just having a day," yelled Cousins, smashing a window with the wooden butt. He fired a long burst, stitching a line of holes in the side of a passing UPS truck. "MAYBE SOMEONE IS JUST HAVING A REAL DAY AND A HALF!!"
Sirens whooped in the distance as I crawled out of the museum, grateful that the stimulus package continued to save jobs and change lives. (Photo: progressillinois.com & fairfieldmint.com)