In the first half of the second chapter of Going Postal, I was truly unprepared for the train wreck of the Post Office. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I just… holy shit. (Literal shit.) (Except it’s not.) (OH MY GOD, IT WASN’T GUANO.)
I have only known Moist von Lipwig for a chapter and a half. Forty pages at most. And in that time, Pratchett has masterfully painted such a full portrait of this character that he feels terribly lifelike. At the opening of chapter two, as he begins to plot what he sees as his inevitable escape, I didn’t question any of this. It’s remarkable to me that a character can be so real and so consistent in such a short span of time, and I know from what little experience I have had at this novel game how difficult it is to develop a distinct internal voice. It’s here, though, and it’s in third person, too! (I find voice easier to construct in first person.) Look at this:
So there was no harm in playing it straight for a few days, yes? It’d give his foot a chance to get better, he could spy out the situation, he could make plans. He might even find out how indestructible golems were. After all, they were made of pottery, weren’t they? Things could get broken, maybe.
Pratchett does a close third mixed with an omniscient third for most of his books, but this feels so slimy and sneaky, and you can get a sense for how cunning Moist is as a character. Again, he feels very, very different from other Discworld protagonists, and I’m really digging it.
A Proud Institution
I honestly thought that Moist would show up to the Post Office and tour the empty building while Mr. Pump watched him. If the service needed to be refurbished, I anticipated… nothingness. I did not remember there even being a mention of a postal service in previous books, so surely it was all in ruins, right?
Well, I wasn’t all wrong. The building itself is mostly just a static canvas for graffiti, but I should have known from that posted sign that this was going to be completely disastrous. I still don’t understand it, y’all. Who is Mrs. Cake? [Mark’s note, safe for all, but added after the fact: V jnag lbh nyy gb xabj gung V yvgrenyyl erzrzorerq jub fur jnf gur zbeavat nsgre jevgvat guvf erivrj juvyr V jnf ba n eha. Jr unira’g frra ure fvapr… Gur Gehgu, V oryvrir? Ertneqyrff: FGVYY QBRFA’G URYC ZR HAQREFGNAQ JUNG VF TBVAT BA URER.] Who is asking the Post office about fog or dragons? I don’t know! But I felt validated by the emptiness and dire state of the building because I was ready to mentally pat myself on the back for anticipating something correctly, and then Junior Postman Groat wheezed his way onto the page, and THIS IS NOT WHERE I THOUGHT THIS WAS GOING.
As far as I can tell, after the Postal Service fell apart, no one fired Groat. It very much appears that he just… stayed working? Does he even get paid anymore, or did he do the job out of some weird sense of duty? And it’s not like he’s actually doing the job, either, but more on that at the end. When Moist shows up, I was shocked that Groat did not seem all that bothered by the fact that someone had been sent to work there. It’s almost like he expected it, despite that the post office hadn’t been operating for TWENTY YEARS. Twenty!!! Two and then a zero! Next to one another!
“We keeps the place clean, sir. All according to Regulations.”
Oh my gods, but do you? The place seems like a mess! Of course, as previewed at the beginning of the chapter, there is a “Book of Regulations,” and we haven’t gotten to it yet, so perhaps Groat really did clean the place according to Regulations. But I don’t know since EVERYTHING IS CHAOS. Why does Groat insist he isn’t wearing a toupee when he clearly is? What happened to the floor in the Postmaster’s office? Why is the staff locker room still working? What the hell happened over the last twenty years?
I’m still wrapping my mind around the introduction of Apprentice Postman Stanley. It is… a lot. And the sheer contrasts between him and Mr. Groat only make this even more absurd. After losing his parents to Gnats (still imagining murderous gnats, okay), he lived in an orphanage, then came to live in the Post Office? Which had been closed? WHO SENT HIM TO THE POST OFFICE??? Was it literal? Because now I’m imagining him being put in a crate and being mailed there, and that’s probably more sensible than anything else that’s happening here.
“…and he was raised by peas.”
“Surely you mean on peas, Mr. Groat?”
“By peas, sir. Very unusual case. A good lad if he doesn’t get upset, but he tends to twist toward the sun, sir, if you get my meaning.”
I DON’T. I REALLY DON’T. IS HE A PLANT. WAS HE RAISED BY PLANTS. If so, did they imbue Stanley with his love for pins??? Which I also misinterpreted as, like, enamel pins, which I am VERY enamored with, but nope! Not what he means! I… I honestly didn’t know that being “into” pins was a thing you could be into? But more power to Stanley! I am happy for his love for pins! That… doesn’t seem like something that could help you work at a post office? But I don’t even know if he does work there or if he just lives there. I KNOW NOTHING. NOTHING MAKES SENSE. Oh my god, why is the room divided? Why is there a circular demilitarized zone? WHAT.
Just letting you know he has the best name and I would fight a war for Mr. Tiddles.
Oh god, the weird synchronicity with The Science of Discworld II, which both contain references to homeopathy. I just… there is so much going on in the first half of this chapter, and Groat’s “natural medicine” took me OUT. I wish I could tell you that there aren’t people who have sworn off soap but I lived in the Bay Area. I met a lot of people who just straight up did not bathe for any reason ever. They felt it was unnatural to take a shower or a bath. EVER. And this was not for medical reasons or allergies or anything. They could take showers, but chose not to and all of them ALWAYS BERATED PEOPLE WHO TOOK SHOWERS! Like, do your thing! It’s fine! Why are you calling me a lesser human for having hygienic routines?
That is twenty years of mail piled in the post office, isn’t it? Is it still coming into the facility? OH GOD, PROBABLY??? It is such a chaotic comparison to Groat’s veneration of what the post office used to be, y’all. How did it get this bad???
I’m not ready. At all.
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