Peer-to-Peer Postal Service

This post originally appeared on http://www.p2ppostal.com.

In the months leading up to my PhD defense, I was pulling 20 hour days in the lab. I survived on a diet of instant Ramen and self-loathing. My mother called from time to time to check up on me.

“Are you eating well?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said.

My mother always knows when I’m lying. Fearing that I would perish from scurvy, she painstakingly boxed up a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and shipped it via UPS.

The problem with UPS is that the delivery vehicle arrives in a window of time between 9am and 5pm, when working people are at work. The infonotices landed on my door day after day, until the third one stated that my package would be returned to sender if I didn’t pick it up from the warehouse within a week.

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The other problem with UPS is that its warehouse hours are also limited to weekdays from 9-5, hours that I needed to be in the lab.

I don’t fault UPS for being a soulless corporation that operates during normal business hours. But why must we rely on a centralized delivery service when the world has already self-assembled a peer-to-peer distribution network? This network consists of everyday commuters, kids going on road trips, or anyone else who happens to have a few cubic feet of space in their car.

Hence the driving force behind Peer-to-Peer Postal. People are going to commute as a course of everyday life; why not pay them to carry some mail while they’re at it? As an added benefit, mail gets delivered by humans on human schedules, not underpaid truck drivers subject to the whimsy of UPS or FedEx.

Peer-to-Peer Postal

And it took another week, but I finally did get my package. I didn’t go to the UPS warehouse to pick it up — I had my labmate fetch it for me on his way to school.

I opened the box to find a liquefied mash of black and moldy produce.

My mother called me again. “Did you get the package I sent you?”

“Yes,” I said. “It was delicious.”

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