»  Wall Street Journal

January 9, 1996

  No Sweat

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Note: The "Letters to the Editor" of December 19th, 1995 included the following contribution from Hazel Tallent Williams of Vernon, Texas.

No longer can I remain silent. For years, with growing annoyance, I have read and heard "sleet" used instead of "heat" in "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat , nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" (Inscription on the Main Post Office, New York City, adapted from Herodotus's portrayal of Persian messengers).

And now even the Journal has allowed "sleet" in this usage to slip onto its pages, on Nov. 20, page A15. Even more inexplicable is the fact that this appeared in an ad for the U.S. Postal Service, with the heading "Neither rain nor sleet nor government shutdown." How could the U.S. Postal Service be unaware of the correct wording of this well-known inscription on its own building?

My response was published in the "Letters" columns on January 9th.

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No Sweat

In response to the Dec. 19 letter from Hazel Tallent Williams: Ms. Williams should consider the possibility that by substituting "sleet" for "heat" in an advertisement in the Journal the U.S. Postal Service is trying to tell us something.

Through ev'ry kind of precip known
To meteorology, comes the mail.
Through snow and rain and thunderstone,
Through lightning flash, through rattling hail.
In swift completion of his rounds
(Appointed by the powers that be)
The rugged mailman yet astounds
With zeal and punctuality.
But wait — the forecast calls for heat.
They say it may reach ninety-nine!
Now postie's missing from his beat.
"Too hot for work," says the service line.
"We've changed the rules: in heat, no show."
The customer's the last to know.