April 24, 2007

Go Postal

Go postal - Fly into a violent rage, especially when provoked by workplace stress.

The gun-culture in United States might have not contributed to the well-being of the society in any way but it surely has given us a phrase not many would feel comfortable about. The recent hostage and killing drama at NASA reminded moi of the expression we came across in one of our Work Design and Productivity classes: "Go postal".

This originated in the USA in 1990s following a several incidents from 1986 onward, in which individuals working for the United States Postal Service (USPS) shot and killed fellow workers and members of the public. The first event of this kind was in August 1986, when fourteen postal workers were shot dead and six wounded in an Oklahoma post office, by Patrick Sherrill, himself a postal worker, who later shot himself in the forehead. Between that date and 1997 more than 40 people were killed in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage.

The term was first recorded in the Florida newspaper The St. Petersburg Times, December 17, 1993:"The symposium was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, which has seen so many outbursts that in some circles excessive stress is known as 'going postal'."

By 1994, going postal was being applied to crazy or violent outbursts at any workplace.
Pic: Memorial of the August 20, 1986 post office killing spree that left 15 dead.
Sourced from wikipedia.org


suramya said...

didn't know about this phrase, thank u,seems to me, the world has gone very gun crazy nowadays, two such incidents within a short span of time is really heartwrenching.

666 said...

wasnt aware either.. this one is new. moi permit me to add a label postal service since i think there are quite a few traditions out there

Moi said...

Su, 666: i wasn't aware of it either till the prof. talked abt it in one of our Mgt. classes. Can't imagine a postal worker doing this ....but then life is stranger than fiction, oftentimes.

There are several satirical references to these violent acts in books, movies, cartoons etc.....refer to wikipedia for that one.

666, go ahead and update the label.I am sure there are more than one tradition there.

Jas Bhambra said...

I knew about this one. I was once checking for "Go Ballistic" when I came across this phrase.

Moi said...

jas : staying in North America, you can not "not know" the expression..:)