My friend Adolfo is a policeman in Desaguadero, Bolivia. He has lived in the small town along the border of Peru since he was graduated from El Nino University with a degree in criminal intent. Before that we shared a flat in London where I taught him English, the language and the billiards maneuver.
Adolfo said that recently he had to arrest a woman for trying to mail a mummy. The lady went to the Desaguadero post office with a large box addressed to a person in the French city of Compiegne.
“The postmaster called the station,” Adolfo said, “saying that one of the clerks asked if there was a special rate for well-preserved human remains.”
Adolfo sensed something was wrong so he went to the post office. He was expecting to make an arrest and perhaps be a part of a landmark case. But, as it turned out, the woman was right: the Bolivian post office had a special rate for mailing well-preserved human remains.
The postmaster apologized to Adolfo, who was shocked to learn that the government allowed the mailing of well-preserved human remains, leading to observations about other strange items going through the mail.
Adolfo later discovered that more than half of the artillery in the Peruvian Army arrived in large insulated envelopes—Second Class—without a return address.
Foreign dignitaries in South America received custom clothing and bribes through the general delivery services of the post offices.
The addition of all South America to “The Americas,” continent listing was made official through a form filled out and a self-addressed stamped envelope, which was returned to the governments of South America with an official stamp that read: “Your territory is now a member of The Americas, a continent among five that make up all the land on Earth.”
So much for the uselessness of “snail mail.”