On “Going Postal”

Tucson

What causes people to “go postal,” and where did the phrase originate? The St. Petersburg Times published the phrase on Dec. 17, 1993, in response to a symposium on violence in the workplace, and in 1995 the movie Clueless used the phrase repeatedly, solidifying its popularity. As to why people go “postal,” that would obviously be different in every incident, but some common reasons are a feeling of being boxed in and powerless in attempts to alleviate stress, made to feel humiliation from management (who are more interested in numbers than in people), and other long-standing mental problems which the environment may exacerbate. Some of the most famous shootings are listed below.

* On August 20, 1986, 14 employees were shot and killed and six wounded at the Edmond, Oklahoma post office by Patrick Sherrill, a postman who then committed suicide with a shot to the forehead.

Oklahoma

* A former United States Postal Worker, Joseph M. Harris, killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, then killed her boyfriend, Cornelius Kasten Jr., at their home. The following morning, on October 10, 1991, Harris shot and killed two mail handlers at the Ridgewood, New Jersey Post Office.

* On November 14, 1991 in Royal Oak, Michigan, Thomas McIlvane killed five people, including himself, with a Ruger rifle in Royal Oak’s post office, after being fired from the Postal Service for “insubordination.” 

* Two shootings took place on the same day, May 6, 1993. At a post office in Dearborn, Michigan, Lawrence Jasion wounded three and killed one, and subsequently killed himself. In Dana Point, California, Mark Richard Hilbun killed his mother, then shot two postal workers dead. As a result of these two shootings, the Postal Service created 85 Workplace Environment Analyst jobs to help with violence prevention and workplace improvement. (In February 2009, the Postal Service eliminated these positions as part of its downsizing efforts.)

* Jennifer San Marco, a former postal employee, killed six postal employees before committing suicide with a handgun, on the evening of January 30, 2006, at a large postal processing facility in Goleta, California. 

According to media reports, the Postal Service had forced San Marco to retire in 2003 because of her worsening mental problems. Her choice of victims may have also been racially motivated. San Marco had a previous history of racial prejudice, and tried to obtain a business license for a newspaper of her own ideas, called The Racist Press, in New Mexico.

* Grant Gallaher, a letter carrier in Baker City, Oregon, pleaded guilty to the April 4, 2006 murder of his supervisor. He reportedly brought his .357 Magnum revolver to the city post office with the intention of killing his postmaster. Arriving at the parking lot, he reportedly ran over his supervisor several times. Subsequently he went into the post office looking for his postmaster. Not finding the postmaster, he went back out to the parking lot and shot his supervisor several times at close range, ostensibly to make sure she was dead. Gallaher reportedly felt pressured by a week-long work-time study. On the day of his rampage, he was ahead of schedule on his route, but his supervisor brought him more mail to deliver. Years earlier, the union steward at the Baker City post office committed suicide.

There have been other shootings, including two in 2017. One at a San Francisco postal facility, and one in Dublin, Ohio in which the perp shot his supervisor and then beat the postmaster to death over his pending dismissal.  

Originally a small press hardcover, Postmarked for Death is now an audiobook, and also an ebook and trade paperback. A rookie postal inspector hunts a politically motivated bomber targeting immigration offices and food stamp card processing equipment. Calvin Beach (#BeachReads) is hiding within the Tucson post office in the heat of summer, mailing letter bombs as police search for the wrong man. A why-dun-it instead of just a who-dun-it. Endorsements: “This gifted writer has given us a page turner that affords a fascinating look behind the scenes at the Postal Service. Read this one, and dropping a letter in the mailbox will never be the same.” –John Lutz (author behind film Single White Female). “A class performance, powerful and accomplished. . .mystery at its best.” –Clive Cussler, world’s #1 adventure writer, interview HERE. —Jonathan Lowe

Bomber

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Dog Poems

 

playing ball

the ball did not matter     to him,
it was the play,
the movement and bright colors,
it was the     interaction,
and i cannot escape the same need,
the same desire,
for bright places           people,
what we had in common,
what he learned from me,
even as i sit here        now
without movement
in this room with curtains pulled
tight      not right
missing him
and life
and trying to                 understand

Ray Bradbury Poem

(Ray Bradbury was my writing mentor, having answered every letter I wrote him as a teen. Have several new release ebooks and audiobook productions. If you are press, email me at TowerReviewFilms(at)Gmail for a free review download code or ePub copy. If you are not press, order a title and get another free. Titles shown HERE, and appear at Amazon, iTunes, BN.com, and Smashwords.)

Wine Writer Boo Walker

Boo Walker

After picking the five-string banjo in Charleston and Nashville and then a few years toying with Wall Street, Boo chased a wine dream across the country to Red Mountain in eastern Washington with his dog, Tully Mars. They landed in a double-wide trailer on five acres of vines, where Boo grew out a handlebar mustache, bought a horse, and took a job working for the Hedges family, who taught him the art of farming and the old world philosophies of wine. Recently leaving his farm on Red Mountain, Boo and his family are back on the east coast in what’s called the Portland of Florida, St. Pete. As he wraps up the second book of the Red Mountain series, he’s got his eyes and ears open, building his next cast of characters. No doubt the Sunshine City will be host to the next few novels. The author of Lowcountry Punch, Off You Go, Turn or Burn, and Red Mountain, Boo’s novels are instilled with the culture of the places he’s lived, the characters he’s encountered, and a passion for unexpected adventure.

Jonathan Lowe) You’ve always wanted to write, but you’re involved in the winery business. Have a friend named Jeff Davis who has a wine show in Napa area. Did you start with articles or fiction?

Boo Walker) I used to play music in Nashville for a living with a band called the Biscuit Boys. My first taste of the creative process and putting words together was writing songs. When I left that career, I had to fill the void. Being a voracious reader, I always wanted to try my hand writing fiction. So I went from songs to full-length fiction.

JL) Anything happen at the winery itself that could be described as “mysterious” or “suspenseful?”

BW) There’s always things that happen at the winery with a sense of suspense or mystery. Our winemaker was nearly killed by the press one year. A year before that, someone stole our neighbor’s grapes, picking them at midnight during harvest. I’ve seen wars waged between humans that may not resolve themselves for generations. Eastern Washington is desert country, the wild west. We have coyotes that will track you, we have badgers that will maul you, and we have rattlesnakes that linger in the grass. Even though Red Mountain is a tiny blip on the map, the potential stories are endless!

JL) Drinking a bit helped me with live interviews, and many writers have been aided by wine in loosening up the free flow of ideas. Red or white for this?

BW) Ha! The best interviews always begin with a glass of white. But I have a steadfast rule… no drinking while writing. Even Hemingway stuck to that.

JL) Favorite authors? Influences?

BW) My favorite author for many years has been Pat Conroy. We share pasts in Charleston together. If I could emulate one writer, it would be him. But I read Plum Island by Nelson Demille while traveling through Ireland after high school, and it gave me the thirst. I was in Waterville on the west coast, and I remember thinking that I had to write a book. Not that I could or should, but that I had to. So I owe him a lot. My favorite book right now though, one that has utterly blown me away, is A Gentleman in Moscow. I’ve never felt so motivated as a writer. Amor Towles puts words together in ways that make my eyes water. The way his mind works is pure art and genius. And most importantly, he’s reminded me to be free in my writing. I don’t need to subscribe to any particular way of doing things. I need to write from the heart and let my voice shine.

JL) Your wine is carried at Whole Foods, bought by Amazon. Some of your characters are in wineries, too. Ever thought about sending a case to Jeff Bezos? He might buy movie rights.

BW) I love the idea of sending wine to Bezos! I sent him an email one time; he never responded. Perhaps a box of wine would do the trick!

JL) Hobbies? What’s next for you?

BW) I’m halfway way through the sequel to Red Mountain. Once that’s wrapped up, I’ll be writing a few books from my new home in St. Pete, Florida. After many years in Washington, my wife and I decided to take a new adventure. So I’m getting out and about in St. Pete, learning the history, the culture, the people. And then I’m going to throw it all in a blender and see what kind of fiction comes out. I always tell my new friends that they better be careful what they tell me, because I’m always looking for new material. Other than writing, I still play some music and absolutely thrilled to be buying my son his first guitar this Christmas. My newest hobby will be teaching him everything I know!