My late father, Arved Stangl (aka “The Chief”) gets mentioned in this space many times. As the fifth of six children, I was witness to many lessons taught by my father that have stayed with me. I believe some of the reactions are hard wired into my DNA, so when situations arise, I simply switch into “Arved” mode.
The Chief was not a fan of popular culture. His favorite movie star was John Wayne. He adored Lawrence Welk. I could probably still sing Welk’s sign off song “Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen,” but I won’t put you through the trauma. Any time he saw anyone performing that he didn’t “get,” his reaction was to place a bemused expression on his face and remark “They pay them good money for that?”
I’ll admit to using the phrase a time or two myself. When I came across a recent item about a retailer’s new fashion line, the thought entered my head.
It seems the United States Postal Service (USPS) is licensing its logos for a new line of clothing sold by retailer Forever 21. Among the garments splashed with USPS logos are “Express” and “Priority” joggers and cropped tanks, a hooded windbreaker covered in USPS mailing labels, and a belt covered in USPS bar codes. There’s a “Priority” tube top as well as a biking uniform, which features blue bike shorts and a yellow tank top that has the USPS logo on it.
Writing for Fast Company, where I read news of this new fashion line, author Elizabeth Segran points out that the biking ensemble bears more than a passing resemblance to the ones worn by Lance Armstrong when he was on the professional team sponsored by USPS. “In 2010, Armstrong and his teammates were accused of defrauding the U.S. government by doping while sponsored, forcing Armstrong to pay $5 million to settle the case. Is the USPS being self-referential to the point of self-parody?” Segran writes.
In an official statement, USPS’ brand marketing executive Chris Karpenko said, “The collaboration will generate royalty revenue for the Postal Service, and build brand awareness among a younger audience.”
Segran points out that Generation Z and Millennials, who comprise Forever 21’s target market, grew up with the internet and are among the folks who rarely use the postal service.
Photos of the items show a zippered clutch bag with the Priority Mail logo and reflective trim jackets similar to what letter carriers might wear, but make no mistake, these items are not to be worn while sorting mail.
USPS’ Karpenko says in the release “This collection is not part of the official USPS uniform and should not be worn by postal employees while on duty. Managers and supervisors can use Postal Uniform Guidelines, a pictorial guidebook that USPS released last year, to help ensure employees wear their uniforms properly.
“Our employees are welcome to show their postal pride by wearing officially licensed USPS apparel, but they should do so in their free time,” Karpenko said.
I’m really glad he added that. I would hate to see someone sorting mail while wearing the $12.90 “Priority” tube top.
I get that the postal service is trying to make a buck wherever and whenever they can, but as a business customer who depends on them exclusively for delivery, I would rather they focus on delivering on time.
And yes, we do pay them good money for that.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
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