"Yeah, I work for the postal service. What of it?"
I received today a box from a faithful reader who sends me brass now and again. It had been shipped from Louisiana in a large priority mail "If it fits it ships" box. Well, it was broken open when I received it and of the 40 pounds original weight only 32 pounds remained, and as it was split entirely along one whole width of a seam, I am lucky to have received what I did.
I spoke to a USPS employee that I know and this is what I was told: If you want to make sure such a package gets through, you have to use nylon-reinforced packing tape and make sure the box is well-wrapped with it before giving it over to the tender mercies of the postal service. Using doubled zip lock quart or gallon bags for the brass you ship (gallons are best) helps keep the brass within the box if it is compromised. Why is this necessary? Because, they explained, "postal workers hate the 'If it fits it ships' (expletive deleted) because the packages tend to be heavy and people don't like having to move heavy parcels so they make a game of seeing if they can bust them open to pay you back for making them work for a living." I kid you not. They actually said that.
Talking to my wife Rosey, who is inside sales manager for a local material handling company and whose shipping department ships dozens of boxes of forklift parts everyday via UPS, the Big Brown employees play the same game with heavy boxes. She told me they have to incur more shipping charges for a larger number of lighter parcels because otherwise they will find some gorilla to slam the heavier boxes around until they break open. This costs the shipper, the customer and UPS more money for damage claims and time lost, but nothing happens to the lazy bastards who do it, so it continues.