Day-old poultry. What exactly is poultry, anyway? Poultry refers to domestic birds kept for meat, eggs, or feathers. So it’s a nomenclature of exploitability and Linnaeus had nothing to say about it. Examples could include chickens, geese, swans, emus, or pheasants.
This is among the many things you can find out about the Postal Service if you lower yourself into its website and thrash around a little. There are numerous portals to branching catacombs of obscure minutiae and if you have the patience of Job’s wife you can sometimes whack your way to an answer, often inside of a half-hour
It’s really not the website’s fault. There are no easy answers at the post office. But there are people who do know all of the answers. They’re called clerks, and they have powers. A clerk can weigh an envelope to precision on her fingertips, in a half a second.
You can hand a clerk a parcel to mail and she’ll have it sized up before you get it out from under your arm, and will whip out a customs form–the big one, not the small one, or the green one, because each has its unique function–in triplicate, and shuttle you to the side to fill it out.
“It’s not a snake, is it?” she’ll say. “There are some countries you can’t mail a snake to.”
Really none of her business, I thought, but I shook my head, crossed out “snake” and wrote “gift” on the customs card. How much was this going to be?
“Depends. It’s one price to Canada or Mexico, and another to most other countries, except Flackland, which has levied an arrogance tariff on items originating in the U.S. since 2017, and, of course, Lower Begonia isn’t accepting any mail pieces at all.”
“Only in months ending in ‘R.’ Their prime minister is trying to manage civic expectations by limiting joy. Also, snakes.”
I handed over the customs card, and the clerk crossed out some of it and rewrote it on the correct line, whipped tape around the plastic, affixed it to the box, bounced the box a couple times on her palm and said Sixteen Fifty-Five. I got out my card and she set the box down on the scale for a nanosecond, muttered Yep, and slapped on postage, accompanied by an ethereal chime somewhere between a cash register and Glenda, the Good Witch.
Anyway, this time I had this teeny package and wanted to avoid the post office lobby during plague season, so I tried to calculate postage using the postal website. And she’s a bitch. She won’t let you slide over to the next window until you’re done answering questions.
What zip code are you mailing to? Mailing from? What date? What time of day? What moon phase? What, if any, planets are in retrograde?
Is your package stiff? Squishy? Rancid? Prone to melancholy?
Are you mailing:
Liquids? (This could apply to non-cremated remains)
Live animals other than day-old poultry? (Some restrictions)
Tardigrades? (No restrictions)
There are instructions. Cremated remains, it says here, must be affixed to all sides of the package. I am assuming they mean stickers saying cremated remains, but in the event, I do have a glue-stick.
You already know about the pheasants.
But emus? Who mails day-old emus?
The female emu lays huge green eggs and then goes away because she can’t even with those eggs. The male emu, unlike most other birds, has a big shlorpy penis and totally pays for it. He has to sit on the eggs for eight weeks, turning them carefully ten times a day, and does not eat during that time. He survives only on stored body fat while brooding the eggs. Once they hatch, he will stay with the chicks for the next year and a half, teaching them how to hunt. Who mails day-old emu chicks?
Adult male emus, that’s who.