I wheel away from the scrap yard, satchel of letters held in my third right arm, and all the time I am thinking to myself, Mr. Postman™, what are you doing? Never has the scrap yard been on your delivery route. How could you have gone to that place?
There is rust dust on my wheels now, marking me. And worse is in the satchel: I have the mail, yes, but also… a special order. Never have I taken a letter from a robot before; never, that is, a letter written by a robot themself, not ferried from their owner.
The little scrap yard robot, A1-5, she pretended, but she cannot hide her writing. “Deliver to: MT-ρ” is written across the top of the letter she gave me. The pen strokes are too regular for a human, even though she tried to draw them jagged. I have spent my life deciphering human writing, I know these things.
Many more letters I have, I could be delivering. So, why now, Mr. Postman™, are you rolling down Station Street to the radio tower? There is disorder in my mind these days. Ahh, perhaps Postmaster Mayflower is right about me… perhaps I am winding down.
It started, all of this, a month ago. Once, I was a big shot — yes indeed! The Clockwork Carrier, they called me. The Mailmecha! Six-arms, articulated fingers, sturdy wheels. The papers said such grand things of me. The Postman of the Future! Well, twenty-five years have passed since then, but I would hardly say the future is over. Why, then, should I be?
That month ago, I overheard Postmaster Mayflower saying it was time to replace me. There are some very nice new versions of letter-carrying robots in the catalogs, she said.
My life I have spent for the post office and to hear them talk now of digital interfaces and GPS’s and maximum package storage capacity! The post office has letters to be delivered, and I deliver them. What does my speed matter? And let us see how their digital interface holds up in rain and heat and gloom of night!
But also I wondered, is it right for me to complain? Perhaps to be shut off and broken down is just the last part of my duty.
Then, two nights ago, the post office rented me out. I was assigned as an extra in a film, Sealed with Revenge. And this movie star, Überbot, you know of him?, he said some things that are real interesting. And I got to thinking, this Überbot or this Mike character of his, well, he would say it is not right that the post office treats me this way. And I started to think he is right.
All these thoughts were whirring in my processor, and I decided I wanted to see where the post office means to send me. So today, I wheeled to the scrap yard. And no, I did not like what I saw there. The ripped apart carcasses of robots, the dirt, the rust, the reselling of pieces of the dead. So when this A1-5 robot, acting so sly, asked me to take a letter with no return address to the radio station, I found that I didn’t care. I put it in my satchel.
And now the radio tower looms high as I wheel up, thinking how these humans are a problem. They have faulty minds, an error in how they think. A yap-yapping dog rushes me when I go up the drive, as if he knows I carry something illegal. I put my hand to his face and push him back — it is useful, to have these many arms — and slide the letter into the slot. The yapping dog bites my fingers and I think, after the humans, next we solve the dog problem.
— Mr. Postman™