Like Wild West pioneers, our Covid-19 remoted asses as soon as once more are counting on the postal service to be our hyperlink to the surface world, delivering our face masks, birthday presents, and discreet quarantine dildo purchases. And whereas we must always have a coronary heart for all of the laborious work our beleaguered postal employees are doing, not less than we’re solely anticipating them to ship our every day groceries this time and never your entire grocery retailer.
In 1916, financial institution director William Horace Coltharp was in a really relatable transport price huff. Tasked with establishing the primary financial institution in Vernal, Utah, he wished to construct the outside out of pressed bricks that might stand up to each fires and any leftover prospector dynamite utilized by old-timey outlaws. However between the closest producers being situated in Salt Lake Metropolis, the mountainous Vernal having no entry to railroads (and even straight roads), and bricks being fairly heavy by design, to privately ship a whole constructing’s value of supplies would have price an astronomical $2,250 — roughly $53,000 in right now’s cash. Fortunately for Coltharp, a brand new postal service had simply opened in Vernal and, with it, an enormous loophole.
Having began in 1913, the U.S. Postal Service’s home Parcel Submit system was nonetheless understanding the kinks. A serious one, it turned out, was that USPS was calculating transport price by distance and never by weight. Worse, these distances have been divided into value zones, one of many least expensive being anywhere inside 150 miles because the crow flies. And on the map, Vernal was solely 125 miles away from Salt Lake Metropolis, by no means thoughts the 400 miles of filth roading it’d take to achieve the place by truck. So having executed the cash math (as bankers are wont to do), Coltharp realized that mailing the bricks would nonetheless be twice as low-cost as hiring the native Pony Specific. So he instructed the Salt Lake Pressed Brick Firm to place all 37.5 tons of bricks in 50-pound crates (the max transport weight), lick a bunch of stamps and mail the financial institution by the put up workplace.