I read Post Office by Charles Bukovski and I came across this sentence:

The soup was a bullneck named Jonstone.

Who could help me to understand this soup meaning

  • 1
    Thank you for linking to the source. That lets me find more context. You can help answer your question by giving more context.
    – James K
    Aug 28, 2018 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


This is the third time "soup" has been used in this context in this novel. The narrator is a temporary Christmas postman and he says:

They only gave you a block or two and if you managed to finish ... the soup would give you another.

then later

... I was—a substitute mail carrier... the soup was easy and I strolled around doing a block or two...

and finally, your example "the soup was a bullneck named Johnson".

So a "soup" is a person, this person can be tough (a bullneck) or "easy". And if you finish your work early, this person can give you extra work.

So "soup" must mean "superintendent" or "supervisor", I.e the person in charge of the mail carriers. It is an abbreviation, but not one that I've seen before. However, the meaning is clear enough in context.

  • Normally this would be spelled "supe". Perhaps the OP got this from an audiobook and didn't see it in print?
    – Beanluc
    Aug 28, 2018 at 23:07
  • @Beanluc It seems to be the same in the print edition, based on the Google Books link from the OP.
    – Milo P
    Aug 28, 2018 at 23:19
  • So, any reason behind why "soup" is linked to "superintendent"?
    – dan
    Aug 29, 2018 at 0:43

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