Friday, January 20, 2006

Traveling Through the Mail?

` Hey, just because I'm a skeptic doesn't mean I don't like anecdotes! From Cecil Adams' more or less skeptical column The Straight Dope, I learned that there have been people who've acheived travel via the U.S. Postal Service.

` This is by far the most noble reason:

Escape from slavery. From the 1851 memoir that bears his name we learn of one Henry "Box" Brown, a slave residing in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1840s. Desperate for freedom, in March 1849 Brown poured acid on his finger in order to be excused from work; then, anticipating Beavis and Butt-head by nearly 150 years, he arranged for a pair of associates to nail him inside a three-by-two-and-a-half-by-two-foot wooden box, his only accommodations a bladder of water and a tool with which to bore additional air holes.
` That done, the accomplices delivered the goods to the railway express office, presumably paid the freight, and wired a friend in Philadelphia to await delivery of the male (Brown's joke, not mine). The journey was no walk in the shade. Despite the fact that the box was marked "this side up with care," it was placed upside down for hours at a time (freight handlers being no more attentive to instructions then than now), causing the blood to rush dangerously to Brown's head. Just as he felt about to lose consciousness, though, a couple jamokes turned the box over, the better to sit on it.
` At another point the box was flung from a wagon, knocking Brown cold and nearly breaking his neck. After some additional travail the fugitive arrived at the desired address in Philadelphia and was uncrated. He emerged and promptly fainted, bruised and battered but, thank God almighty, free at last.
` That was a slick escape plan! Very nice! Though more recently, there have been some pretty ignoble reasons:
Escape from New York. In September 2003 Charles D. McKinley, 25, had himself shipped by airfreight from New York to his parents' house in suburban Dallas, his goal not freedom but saving the plane fare. This being the 21st century, McKinley took along not water but a computer and arranged for a pickup from a business in the Bronx.
` The carrier, Kitty Hawk Cargo, flew the encrated man from Newark to Buffalo to Fort Wayne, Indiana to Dallas, whence he was transported by truck to his folks' house. He'd have gotten there undetected except that at the last minute he apparently removed a covering of some kind, allowing the deliveryperson to see him while unloading the box.
` The jig up, the driver called police, who arrested McKinley on some old warrants. A federal official conceded that U.S. air security measures clearly weren't the impenetrable shield one might like in the wake of 9/11.
` Evidently, the freight compartment he was traveling in was pressurized, which is good, because otherwise he would have arrived a corpse.
` Anyhow, I really must go, but not until I post a picture of the most recent development in the weather....

3 comments:

Galtron said...

I wonder if I could exploit the postal service to get myself all the way to Cancun?

S E E Quine said...

` First of all, make sure they pressurize the cargo hold....

Aaron said...

Nevermind the fact that it's probably -50 degrees or so in the cargo hold of an aircraft at altitude.

I've thought about this before galtron. It's pretty cheap to next day air yourself to Hawaii. I'm pretty sure you'd freeze to death - if not suffocate like Spoony says.