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Freshman Guide: Intercepting the Mail

College is truly a radical life change. The academic difficulty and independent lifestyle presented by college can be a major challenge, forcing many new students to leave some of their extracurricular interests behind them. Here at Sherman Ave, we don’t want to see new students lose track of the things they love to do. And, if you’re anything like me, you love crime. Specifically, you love mail theft. Swiping stamps. Pocketing post. During my years at Northwestern, I’ve acquired a large amount of skill and experience at stealing from the University’s postal service, skill and experience which I wish I had as a freshman. In order to make your transition to college easier, I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to make this felony easy for you from day one.

Make sure you’ve got all your gear.

If you want to be a successful mail thief in college, you’re going to need the right equipment:

  • a bag for keeping the mail out of sight,
  • a miniature crowbar for prying open locked mailboxes,
  • a flashlight for working in low-light conditions,
  • a pair of Groucho Marx glasses for obscuring your identity, and
  • a smoke bomb in case your operation becomes compromised.

Obviously, try your best to avoid using the smoke bomb whenever possible. Not only do you want to remain covert, but also smoke is a carcinogen and could lead to long-term negative health effects.

 Make your move during off-hours.

Not every residence hall on campus has mailboxes in it. Rather, only large dorms have mailboxes in them, housing both their own mail as well as that of nearby smaller dorms. These mailboxes are, more often than not, located near gathering spaces, like dining halls or sad, sad lounge spaces. In order to minimize your chances of being caught, it is recommended that you rob mailboxes during periods of low activity. Campus security officers (CSOs), security contractors that reign over dorm lobbies at night, will often doze off around 3:30 AM. This is a good time to act.

 Faculty mailboxes are an easy target.

Faculty mailrooms are great places to raid ‘boxes. Generally found in non-residential university buildings, faculty mailboxes are almost always tucked away in some obscurely-located, unlocked closet that is out of sight from almost everyone going about their daily activities. This makes them a great target, especially for beginners. While it is low risk, however, faculty mail is often low-reward; most faculty mailboxes will seldom contain more than students’ assignments, brochures about retirement plans, and notifications that a university employee was recently fired. I did one time steal a notification that a professor was up for a Nobel Prize, though, which was a pretty sweet grab.

You’ll need an associate on the inside.

It is nigh impossible to steal packages from the NU mail system alone. In order to retrieve a package, a student must report to the nearest package center and present their Wildcard, after which a package center employee (usually a student) will give them their parcel. Without having the proper Wildcard, there’s no way to retrieve a given package. College students will do nearly anything for a quick buck, though, and offering a student behind the package center desk a steady payroll of $10 per week will usually gain you a loyal and powerful ally.

Don’t forget about off-campus residences.

With the University’s culture being so insular, it’s easy to forget that there is indeed a small city of 75,000 people immediately outside Northwestern’s dumbly shaped campus. What’s more, the residences off campus often have much less mail security: most apartment buildings do nothing to protect their residents’ packages, and most houses do not have locks on their mailboxes. The lower concentration of people makes getting caught much less likely, and the content of the mail is often better than that of on-campus mail.

Handle the goods properly.

Once you have the mail in your possession, it is imperative that you handle it intelligently. Make sure you have a safe for stashing any mail you want to keep and a lighter and gasoline for burning the rest of it. This is very important: I, once, forgot to set fire to my leftover mail and someone tipped off the police the very next day. I had to pay a one thousand dollar fine. In the end, it was me, not the mail, that ended up getting burned.

Always remember to have a little fun.

Stealing mail can be stressful. Often, it can seem like the reward is not worth the labor. To keep yourself going, try to have a little fun on the job. Replace real mail with fake gag mail. Put Smirnoff ices in random mailboxes every so often. Try applying your mail theft skills in other pursuits, like stealing cars or jewelry.

Take care and good luck!

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