Monday, May 6, 2024

Postal Service, part II


One of the pluses of working as a letter carrier, we were told more than once during classroom training, was that one would 'lose weight'. No one in my training seemed to need this rather toss-away information. However, it was not only said by the first trainer, a somewhat sleepy guy in his late 50s who probably wanted to be anywhere else than in that training room with us, but it was also said by some HR bigwig zoomed in from elsewhere in the country. HR guy mentioned how he had been in the best shape of his life when working as a carrier a number of years ago. He then patted his belly while making reference to the fact that his office job did not keep the pounds off. I wondered why middle-aged men kept putting such an emphasis on one's weight and fitness as a selling point of the job. I mean, I guess it is? The real perk would be that working as a postal carrier means you are a federal worker and with that comes decent medical benefits and a 401(k) plan. I was keen on joining the letter carrier union myself.  

Speaking of weight, the first thing the manager at my unit (the USPS uses militaristic language--I find it funny) said when we met was, 'You're pretty skinny. Do you actually think you can do this job?' Never mind that I'd already met a carrier on site who was in her 50s/60s trimmer than I was, so I don't know what his comment was really about. My response was: Well, I have a very physical job right now, but, of course, it's not the same as this job. And I think I'm capable and would certainly like to try. In my head I was thinking, why are you commenting on my body, you fucking twerp? Later that day, the Postmaster told me that she thought I had come from the white collar world and, you know, those people normally quit after three days! I simply repeated a version of what I'd told the manager and she seemed satisfied. Having them both question my abilities did put me off, but I rallied on. You could call it swatting away the red flags. Looking back, I can see why folk would quit after their 3-day training period, and the fact that the job is physical is not top on the list of reasons why.

Right after I was hired and before any training commenced, I spent an 8 hour shift literally following a senior mail carrier around on a fill-in route as the usual carrier was away on vacation. It was an easy route, to be honest. There were no hills, only short blocks and it was very near the ocean (which could be either good or bad, weather dependent). The person I shadowed was also very pleasant and we had great chats during our breaktimes. He told me at one point: You get paid to walk! What's better than that? I can now say that not being yelled at by management is better than that. More on that later...

17 comments:

  1. Actually, I think most of American business are past this kind of paternalism and patronizing, though I could be completely out of touch, not being in an office building since the eighties. But most of my grandchildren are Gen Z citizens, out there earning a living, and often bust me for inappropriate remarks.

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    1. I would have thought so, Joanne. I'm GenX. I don't have kids, but my friends have teenagers. I'm sure I must say things that make their hair curl.

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  2. Management is always the fly in the ointment, isn't it.

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  3. Sigh. And I expect management wonders why it is so difficult to attract and keep staff, ignoring the fact that they are often the elephant in the room.

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  4. It's probably the kind of working environment where there are a lot of non-PC people, but that's their problem. You're right that the benefits are the main perk, as I found on taking a state job. Our posties here seem to have a lot of heavy packages to carry at the start of their rounds.

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    1. Yes, that is true. From having worked in the service industry and working with my family, I am well-versed in the world of non-pc jobs. One simply has to ignore that bullshit, if possible. Our postal service has shifted as well to being a parcel-heavy delivery business.

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  5. Do you walk from the depot straight to the addresses? Here, the posties usually get some sort of transport to localities, but it is a long time since I have seen one on a bike.

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    1. In San Francisco we still have 'foot routes' whereby the carriers pick up mail along their route from relay boxes--they are green and slightly larger than our blue post boxes. Where I was sent one only had 'motor routes'. Essentially, the vehicles are like relay boxes on wheels. It's a sort of walk/drive affair throughout the day.

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    2. To answer your question a bit more clearly, one drives out from the depot with the mail truck packed and ready to go.

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  6. I have so much respect for postal workers. I'm sad to hear your experiences are mixed. I hope you enjoy the new job, but of course dealing with other people is the drawback.

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  7. Ugh, the comments are completely out of line. Being paid to walk does appeal to me.

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    1. It is a great thing, if one is up for it. The thing to keep in mind that being a postal carrier these days is really also being a package deliverer a la Amazon or FedEx.

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  8. I imagine the post office is probably still filled with a lot of older, white males who aren't going to win any awards for their thoughtfulness. Best of luck, Bea. I hope it works out well and you don't have to deal with too many more of those comments.

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    1. Interestingly, the sort of senior white dude in the unit (36 years on the job) was rather nice and bothered to remember my name!

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A piece of your mind here:

Postal Service, part III

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not of the 'every body receives a gold star for participation' generation. I don'...