In the first half of the ninth chapter of Going Postal, Moist makes a deal. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Going Postal.
Can the opening scene of this chapter just be more evidence that Vetinari put the exact right person in charge of the post office? I said this on video, but it’s so clear to me that Moist knew how to talk to the Upwrights and get what he wanted because he is a conman. (Was? I think he still is, but now I’m interested in whether or not I’ll feel this way by the end of the novel.) Moist speaks to the Upwrights in a manner that appeals directly to their sensibilities. It’s like he speaks their language, and it’s because of that technique that he’s able to navigate their threats, level a few of his own, and then get exactly what he wanted. It’s such a bold move, but it works! Beautifully! And in a sense, I feel like he earned their respect in the process.
That’s what Moist does, though. Well, it’s what he did, but the context was different. He always sought to defraud others, but he’s using a similar technique to actually get shit done this time around. There’s not a con at work here; Moist needs those carriages, and there really is a reason why it’ll be good for business if the Upwrights continue to deliver the mail. And it’s the reveal that Gilt (at least, that’s who I assume reached out to the Upwrights) tried to buy off this company that makes me MOST intrigued by all of this. As Harry Upwright notes, the Grand Trunk company offered too much money, and that’s because they’re trying to eliminate any competition or any threats to their business. There’s no honest competition with men like Reacher Gilt; no, they achieve monopolies through deceit and destruction, not because they offer the best product. Which is what is often so mind-blowing about libertarians and Objectivists and their ilk. They swear that’s what a free market actually supports, but it rarely does. Free markets are built for greed. And look what happens here, y’all. The Grand Trunk owns the clacks, a once-dependable and necessary utility in Ankh-Morpork and beyond. The system has become bloated and inefficient; there are periods of mandatory downtime meant specifically to create demand, and thus, the company justifies charging exorbitant prices for what people “need.”
And then there’s the Hour of the Dead. There’s a whole culture that’s cropped up because of this industry, and the Hour of the Dead is part of it. Well, it’s also a bit of mythology, too, isn’t it? It’s a story told about the hour when the clacks go down for “repairs, replacements, maybe even some paperwork.” This necessary moment, which allowed previous workers to carefully repair broken shutters, has been reduced to just twenty minutes under the Grand Trunk. And with that lack of time comes a desperation, and with that desperation comes accidents. Death. And I am sure those deaths are factored into the overall “cost” of running the clacks, meaning that as long as Grand Trunk is making a profit (and one that continues to grow), then the deaths are worth it.
So there’s something to this Smoking Gnu (I CAN’T GET OVER THIS TERM) and to the overhead. I still don’t have any real theory as to what’s going on here with it, but I believe it’s important that we’ve learned so much about the culture that surrounds the clacks and the people who operate it. Those details have to be important, right? And what I do feel comfortable guessing is that Moist is going to get his hands on this Gnu, and he’s going to use it to take down the Grand Trunk company. But there’s a component to this beyond the competition. I’m beginning to think that Moist sees the moral dilemma here. How can the Grand Trunk owners continue to exploit people like this anymore? I think Moist is going to get involved not because it’ll help himself, but because he can genuinely help someone else.
It’s just a theory.
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