“Olive, the Other Reindeer” is a 1999 Christmas special that centers on Olive, a dog who believes she is a reindeer who can pull Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas. The special's main antagonist is the Postman, a disgruntled postal worker who wishes to ruin Christmas and the staggering mail load that comes with it. While his hatred also stems from being put on the naughty list, the Postman’s complaints about holiday shopping are legitimate even twenty years later. His musical number “Christmas (Bah, Bug and Hum!)” is only grounded in fact.
“One flimsy little Christmas card,
Surely, that can't be too hard!
But multiply it a billionfold,
And see why Christmas leaves me cold.”
The postal service is flooded during the holidays. Though greeting cards have decreased with the emergence of email and social media, 2018 still saw around 1.3 billion holiday greeting cards mailed by the USPS alone. Combine those cards with other mail and packages, and the USPS made nearly 16 billion deliveries during the holiday season.
Abandoning brick and mortar stores for online shopping has also caused an increase in the workload. In America, online purchases during November and December increased from $80 billion in 2015 to $123 billion in 2018 and continues to increase with COVID-19 encouraging more people to shop from the safety of their home. Even before coronavirus, more than 60% of American consumers preferred to buy their holiday gifts online, and over 60% waited until the last minute and bought their gifts a week before Christmas. This puts a great strain on the companies that deliver packages.
“Send a friend a two-ton gift,
I don't mind, I love to lift!
Especially when the weather's freezin',
Oh, yes, I love the Christmas season!”
The employees who deliver your packages are overwhelmed by this high shopping demand only made worse by COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, one employee in California delivered 180 packages in his 10-hour shift, but when the lockdown began and encouraged people to stay indoors, that number jumped to over 300 packages a day, and his shifts drug on to surpass 12 and 13 hours—a number sure to increase during the holiday season.
“The shoulder strap tears at my flesh,
I'm a zombie by Thanksgiving!
With four weeks' torture still to come,
This is no way to make a living!”
The 1999 lament of “Olive, the Other Reindeer’s” Postman is truer than ever before in the world of online shopping and COVID. Can we really fault him for singing “Christmas, bah, bug and hum” on his daily route?
Charlene Pepiot is a junior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her @firstname.lastname@example.org.