Why don’t you do it Your &$#! Self – Reflections on the (Not Always) Thankless Job of OJI slash CCA Babysitter

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BY MEL CARRIERE

When people tell you you’re just being paranoid when you complain about the perils of your letter carrier job, just tell them to look at the picture above so they’ll know that we’re not just blowing smoke but we really do get it from all sides.  Not only do we have to watch our backs, but we also have to peek out cautiously from beneath the brims of our pith helmets once in a while to make sure we’re not getting attacked from above either.

I saw these pooches up on a rooftop as I was delivering a swing on somebody else’s route late this afternoon, and at first I thought it was just runoff from last night’s storm, because it finally did rain cats and dogs here in Southern California.

All canine-related puns aside, my workday got off to a rather surly start when the rather overbearing Mother Hen in our office came over to my case and suggested that I let the CCA I was training case mail instead of doing it myself.  Since that was already part of my game plan – I was going to have the CCA case while I went and loaded parcels and DPS, I thought this was a rather rude intrusion.  My first impulse was to tell her “If you don’t like the way I train, why don’t you volunteer to do it your &$#! self!”

Although I stayed my tongue, this unwelcome intrusion by a person who doesn’t do much but insists on criticizing everybody else put me in a surly mood for a little while.  it also caused me to reflect on the last couple of years of being an On the Job Instructor and whether or not I think I’m doing a decent job at it.

I’ll admit I sometimes doubt myself.  I sometimes wonder if I am being as thorough in my instruction as I need to be, but when I realize the overwhelming amount of details that go into delivering America’s mail on a daily basis I reassure myself with the fact that there is just no way anyone can learn everything there is to know in this job in three days, and there is certainly no way I can remember to teach everything!  All I can do is give the CCAs the basics, kick their butts a little to make sure they realize management will do the same thing, except much harder, if they don’t get back in a reasonable amount of time, and try to help them learn to follow the mail smoothly and efficiently without thinking themselves into a state of panic.

I don’t mean to brag, but maybe I should, most of the time I’m Mr. Meekness anyway – but after this rather doubtful pause of introspective self-evaluation I came to the conclusion that a glance up at the scoreboard makes me think I’m not doing too bad as an OJI after all, and the scoreboard don’t lie!

Turns out that even though the local CCA turnover ratio here in San Diego is about 50 percent, a number that comes from the CCA academy instructors, my turnover ratio is a lot better.  Fancy that – 50 percent here in sunny San Diego, where most of these youngsters have never even seen snow, much less delivered mail in it!  Yet most of my CCA babies are still around, and I’m damn proud of that fact.  I’ve trained at least 20 of them since I started, and as far as I know only two of them have dropped out.

One of my failures barely spoke English, and he wasn’t too keen on Math either.  I tried to explain to him the difference between even and odd and why this was important in mail delivery, but he only gave me bewildered looks.  Meanwhile, every time he needed to cross the street because the 2, 4, 6, and 8s had changed to 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9s he would spin around in confused, dizzying circles and wonder why he ever got out of bed that morning.

I can’t be held responsible for the failure of the California Public School System, can I?  My supervisor would probably say yes.

The other dropout just didn’t like to sweat, and he didn’t like to get dirty either.  I suppose he thought when he started out that he was going to deliver the mail in an air conditioned cocoon.  Although this young man was actually one of my faster learners he quit after one day.

But my other CCA babies, who I refer to as my children, have all made it!  Although most are scattered to the four winds now, from time to time the job brings them around to where they first started with me as their postal mentor, and most of the time they stop by to check in and shake my hand.

Maybe I’m just easy to please, but this makes me happy and this makes me proud.  In spite of what meddling Mother Hen thinks, maybe I ain’t doing so bad after all.

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New Postal Commercial has my Fried Brain Reeling

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BY MEL CARRIERE

Have you seen the new postal commercial where everything is
bright and beautiful in Postal Land?  I have to confess that my Sun and Santa Ana baked brain is a little befuddled.
There is no sign of hostile scavenging politicians hovering over the Postal carcass; waiting to pick it clean.  There is not a hint of a threat of impending doom to Saturday delivery.  In fact, the whole point of the ad is to proclaim the availability of SUNDAY delivery, as if a forebodingly evil thing such as the end of five day delivery could never have been contemplated in this joyous realm.

And then there are those nifty text messages to let you know your package is on the way, extolled as if this was a brand new cutting edge technology that nobody has been doing for oh, say, about the past ten years and maybe Donahoe himself invented it yesterday.  From the sound of it he probably even invented text messaging, period.  As long as we are living here in Postal fantasy land  with that unearthly heavenly glow everywhere why not?

I’m not saying I don’t like the slick, happy look of the commercial and the possibility it delivers to help us undermine our competitors.  What has gotten me scratching my head is the Bi-polar personality of the Postal Brain Trust.  Just a second ago weren’t we busy closing post offices, processing plants, and getting ready to roll down the steel doors on Saturday delivery once and for all? And now here are all these happy postal customers sitting around ignoring each other on their cell phones as the CCA pounds on the door to drop off their package before they pack off to church or the football game.

What is it these phone zombies are all looking at anyway?  Are they all tracking the package at once?  A little overkill, I think, but in Donahoe’s Neighborhood of Postal Make Believe this is what o
ur customers do all day.  It doesn’t so much matter that the package is on the doorstep, what matters is that the right scans are being made so people don’t have to look up from their phones to maybe talk to one another.

I guess there is no pain in Postal

paradise after all.  Now I’m tired and  I’m going to bed to dream these sweet Postal dreams too – to dream that every day is Sunday, there are only CCAs and no fussy regulars to deal with; to dream of a place where sugar plum visions of Postal text messages fill my head and my phone from top to bottom.  Good night.

Image from ispot TV

More Reasons not to Trust your Supervisor – Notes on New Route

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BY MEL CARRIERE

I have been five days on my new route now, struggling to make the transition from unmotivated, carefree T-6 back to taking responsibility for the safekeeping and proper mail delivery for my 600 plus customers.  I guess the one good thing about being a T-6 was not having to keep the mailboxes clean and for the most part not having to deal with the burdensome CFS side of the business.

But as a T-6 I honestly felt disconnected from the job and the customers.   I can’t count how many times as a T-6 I heard a customer say “Are you the new regular?”  I would just roll my eyes somewhat impatiently and answer “No he’s just on vacation, ” or “No it’s just his day off.”  Now when I get this question at least once a day I am happy and proud to answer “Yes I am your regular.”  I am glad to take ownership of these good people and do my best to give them the service they deserve.

Upon taking over this route I also rediscovered that supervisor vendettas against letter carriers often go much deeper than just how poorly a carrier is delivering the mail. The mailman who had the route before me had the reputation of being somewhat of a “slug,” simply because management was always following him on the street and he was frequently being disciplined.  Therefore, since management thought his performance was poor his route must be easy, right?

There is no telling how or why this carrier fell on the wrong side of management but I confess that I too accepted this ill informed opinion and bid on the route thinking that my daily burden would be considerably eased.

I was wrong.  Although my job is nicer now because I only have to walk half the day, the route is still long and spread out and I find myself rushing trying to get back in time.  I currently have the reputation of a good carrier and I certainly can do without the daily management drive-bys that the last “bad” carrier was getting.

As it turns out, I have discovered that this “bad” carrier was serving his customers very well.  I receive daily inquiries from customers about where he is at and how he is doing.  I have several streets that share the same house numbers, and I have been told that whenever the “bad” carrier was off the mail was frequently delivered to the wrong street.  This “bad” carrier would also change the locks on mailboxes for his customers, even taking the locks home to grind the hasps down if they didn’t fit exactly right.

This “bad” mailman was going above and beyond the call of duty for his customers.  I have no idea how he incurred the wrath of his supervisors and have decided I don’t care.

The point I am trying to make is that we letter carriers should not be judging and murmuring against our coworkers based on the opinion of supervision.  Oftentimes management has its own opinions of people that are not rooted in reality,  but revolve around some secret hidden agenda that is based mostly on meanness and vindictiveness.  Let’s not fan those flames; we’ve got enough to worry about.

Image from Janelle Kelley on Pinterest.  These boxes are not on my route but I do have a couple rural style boxes down in the river valley that somewhat resemble these.

Turning up the Heat – Is your Postal Supervisor Putting your Life in Danger?

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By Mel Carriere

Hello, my friends.  The Postal Provocateur has been down for a while due to having too many irons in the fire at once, but I haven’t given up on this site and I’m going to try to be more consistent about cranking out posts on a more consistent basis for my postal brothers and sisters and anyone else who honors me with a read.

Our Southern California weather seems to be getting gradually more extreme.  I have lived here since the day I stepped off of a plane into Navy Boot Camp hell back in January, 1983, and for at least the first 28 or 29 years of my residence in America’s Finest City the weather has been nothing but pleasant and mild.

All of that seems to be changing.  The last couple of years we have had several temperature spikes to one hundred or above, and that’s just not the San Diego I know and love.  The annual summertime pilgrimage from Arizona to our beaches has ceased and even reversed; it is now San Diegans driving to Arizona by the droves, seeing if they can find a soggy monsoon cloud to park beneath so they can remember what rain is like.

I am using the topic of the uncharacteristic heat to transition into the subject of postal supervisors and whether or not we as letter carriers are safe under their watch.  I know we all complain about being run ragged by our supervisors because they drive us to the point of physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion, but could our lives actually be put at risk because of the irresponsibly negligent and sometimes criminally deliberate actions they perform while occupying their positions of postal authority?

I believe the answer is sometimes yes.  Even though most supervisors are jerks, probably the majority are well meaning jerks that push the letter carriers to work harder because they erroneously believe that this benefits the organization.  But lately I am increasingly amazed to discover that there are delivery supervisors who work only to advance themselves and will quickly toss their fellow supervisors, letter carriers, and the success of the Postal Service in general under the bus without a second thought if they think this will somehow quicken their rise up the ladder.

For instance, we have a PM supervisor who has no compunction about altering CCA schedules during her afternoon shift and then not informing anyone about it, either the CCAs affected or her fellow supervisors.  She does this because she wants to go back to being the AM supervisor, so she tries to make the current AM supervisor look bad by throwing the schedule into a state of chaos, expecting that he will get blamed for the mistakes.  Meanwhile, the CCA with the changed schedule comes in an hour early as instructed and then gets scolded by the station manager, who is looking at a schedule without realizing that devious, underhanded, unauthorized edits have rendered it unworkable.

This same sneaky, underhanded, “twist the knife” supervisor will also put the customer service line on hold all afternoon and then use the carrier hot line to talk to her friends and co-conspirators, starting about 2 PM when carriers are instructed to call from the street if they cannot make their time commitment.  She then keeps the hot line tied up all afternoon so that carriers cannot call, probably in the hope that they will then do whatever is necessary, up to and including killing themselves, to get back on time.

Now that we are in the middle of a heat wave, this practice of tying up the hot line has become increasingly problematic and increasingly dangerous.

Back in May, during another severe hot spell, a young CCA in our office had a heat exhaustion incident out on the street.  She couldn’t get through on the hot line, but eventually reached another letter carrier who got her medical attention and then drove back to the office to alert the supervisors.

One would the guilty supervisors might learn from this incident and keep the hot line open for emergencies and urgent postal business, as it is intended to be for, but nothing has changed.  The same underhanded politically motivated tactics take place every day without even a hint of conscience or sympathy toward fellow human beings.

To add insult to injury, after a rash (luckily not a heat rash) of hot line incidents that elicited a chorus of complaints from letter carriers last week, a stand-up talk was given on Saturday in which we were scolded for giving out the hot-line number to customers.  This was a blatantly shameless attempt to redirect the blame for what happened with the hot-line last week toward us.  Interestingly enough, the guilty supervisors all stayed home on Saturday and left a substitute supervisor who had absolutely nothing to do with it to deliver the scolding.

The weather is shameless and our supervisors are shameless.  This could be the recipe for the perfect storm of disaster, but Lord I hope not.  Meanwhile I pray that the cooling breeze from the ocean returns soon, and that the cooling breeze of reason somehow filters its way into the heads of these unscrupulous people who play with the lives of others.

Image from: http://www.10news.com/news/heat-wave-hits-san-diego-this-weekend

More about this twist the knife supervisor can be read at:  http://www.bubblews.com/news/6920657-more-supervisor-malfeasance-twisting-the-knife

Debunking Postal Myths is not easy when those Myths are in there so deep you need Pliers to yank them out

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Is your infantile supervisor riding your back?

By Mel Carriere

 

Yesterday I published an article on my Hub Pages site called “CCA Confessions.”  Essentially it deals with some of the harsh experiences and abysmal working conditions CCAs have reported to me in the comments sections of some of my other articles.  I haven’t officially shared this article on Facebook or Twitter yet, but if you want to get a head start I will post the link below and you are more than welcome to read it and share your own thoughts if you like.

Every once in a while I get comments on my posts that reflect postal misconceptions that persist among the American taxpaying public.  Many of these comments are simply made out of error.  The commenting reader simply does not know the truth, either because media forces that are hostile to the Postal Service have disseminated misleading information or because it is simply assumed by the reader that since we are a government agency we must be running on the government dole just like NASA or Homeland Security does.

At other times I am exposed to the thinly veiled hostility toward the working man that has been brainwashed into our society over the last thirty years or so.   People who obviously struggle or have struggled to make a living curiously seem to believe that working people should just keep their mouths shut, not complain about wretched working conditions where they still exist, and definitely not voice support for those sneaky, evil, snakelike unions, even though unions have raised and maintained living standards for unionized and non unionized workers alike in this country over approximately the past two centuries.

Anyhow, I received both of these types of comments this morning.  Although I am on vacation this week, around 7 AM a marauding hawk in our backyard woke up my wife, who got out of bed to take a look.  I grudgingly got up too, but once on my feet I could not go back to sleep.  So instead I began checking my phone notifications, and I found the two comments that I will now share with you.

Please bear in mind that Commenter A actually seems to be an open minded person.  He acknowledged his lack of understanding in a later comment and encouraged me to write an article on the subject, which I plan to do.  Anyhow, here is his comment and my response.  I wanted you to read my comeback to see if you thought it was appropriate.  I thought it was pretty fair stuff for 7 AM when I’m still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

Commenter A:

I believe we in the US really don’t know how much it costs to mail a letter. We know how much we pay for the stamps, but have no idea how much it costs us to reimburse the Postal Service for their annual losses using tax payer money.

Like with any government run agency the USPS is not exactly operated like a real business. They don’t have to worry about losing money because we pay to make up all the money they lose.

Congress would not allow them to stop Saturday service. I have to wonder why that is? I wonder how many people even care if they only had mail delivery every other day or even just a couple times a week?

My reply:

The myth that you are proliferating here is that the postal service receives taxpayer money, which they do not. Like any other business such as FedEx or UPS, sometimes they may borrow from a bank or other financial institution but they pay it back using postal funds that come from the business of selling postage on letters and packages. The postal service runs exactly like any private business in this regard, except that at times private businesses such as GM, Chrysler and large banks have received enormous bailouts from the taxpayers.

On the other hand, throughout history Congress has dipped its hands into the postal treasury to take out money, most notably recently via the PAEA act which has removed a financially devastating 49 billion dollars to date and almost destroyed the Postal Service. Now Cingressmen have their greedy eyes on the postal coffers again and want to steal 2 billion a year for highway funding.

Once again I reiterate that the postal service operates independently and does not take money from taxpayers, unlike corporations that bleed the taxpaying public dry. Thank you for commenting.

Sorry about the typos, but not bad for 7 AM, don’t you think, if I do say so myself?

Here now are Commenter B’s remarks, in which I think he tried to do an end run around his true feelings to be polite, but when a bully hawk wakes me up at 7 AM on my vacation Thursday I don’t feel like being too polite.

Commenter B:

I wonder what is worse, terrible working conditions or no job at all. It may come to that.

My Reply:

I decline to support the notion often force fed down the throats of Americans that we should just be thankful we have a job and keep our mouths shut. This is what they used to tell the sweatshop mill workers of the turn of the century when they were paying them pennies per day to work long hours in horrid working conditions, and many in this country would be happy to see a return to those glory days.

American workers are the backbone of industry and deserve a fair share and to be treated with dignity and respect. There are of course many great geniuses whose innovations have helped build this country, but a lot of them died poor. On the other hand some of our notable Captains of Industry past, future and present became obscenely wealthy through theft of other people’s ideas and by buying out politicians – of both parties. This is not a partisan issue.

As usual I appreciate you dropping in and contributing to the discussion.

Commenter B actually raised my ire more than A did, because his comments imply that American workers should just go to work, do their job whether the rights entitled to them as free human beings are being violated or not, and not ask for more money or benefits even though it is their hard work and talents that make the business or enterprise profitable.

This is what we are up against folks.  In the first place we have to fight an uphill battle against misinformation that is often deliberately disseminated by our foes to discredit the postal service by portraying us as an enormously wasteful tax dollar sucking behemoth.

I can actually stomach the misinformationists more than the Commenter B types, which seem to be part of an insidious plot to destroy almost two centuries’ worth of gains made by working people.  The most disturbing part is that these types of comments are most often made by working people themselves, who for some misguided reason believe they are acting in their own best interest in trying to destroy their ability to make a living wage.

The silk suit wearing anti-postal, anti-labor fat cats rub their hands with glee every time the same people they would happily oppress and force back into near slave labor conditions fight their battles for them.   So it is up to us to debunk these myths wherever we find them, and I for one am willing to get up early, even on my vacation, to fight the good fight.  Now how do you shut up a loudmouthed hawk when you don’t own any weapons?

http://melcarriere.hubpages.com/hub/CCA-Confessions-Letter-Carrier-Revelations-made-Public

Is Tuesday the new Monday? – Thoughts on Postal Ostriches and Load Leveling Revisited

I can’t remember if I have written on the subject of load leveling before or not but I probably have. Whenever there a new postal euphemism in circulation I immediately pounce on it, but since load leveling is currently the flavor of the month I’m sure I can dredge up a thing or two more to say on the topic.

A euphemism, by the way, is a nice word that is attached to a darker, more insidious concept to make it more digestible for people. For instance, in George Orwell’s book 1984 the “Ministry of Love” was the place that “thought criminals” were taken to be tortured. I’m not saying we’ve arrived at Orwellian extremes in the postal service quite yet, but “load leveling” definitely is a bland, sterile term that superbly smoothes over the impact it has on the daily working lives of letter carriers.

In fairness, I think it is safe to say that load leveling has brought about some improvements, at least on Mondays. Mondays are no longer the torturous hike down the highway of postal hell that they used to be, at least in my neck of the woods. I haven’t really taken the time to do any precise mathematical analysis on the issue, but I would loosely estimate that the routes I deliver have had up to thirty minutes shaved off of them on Mondays since load leveling came into existence.

But therein lies the problem. The mail that used to go out on Mondays has now been shifted to – guess what, don’t everybody raise your hands at the same time – Tuesdays! And postal supervisors have us so thoroughly indoctrinated to think of Tuesdays as a light mail day that in a lot of cases they are getting away with tricking us into taking the new Tuesday’s mail for the old Tuesday’s time.

Last Tuesday my supervisor wanted me to carry two hours on another route and wouldn’t give me anything on my own. Instead she smiled at me sweetly and said “But it’s Tuesday!” Because this was one of my longer routes and I had Pennysavers to deliver naturally I got in trouble and I had to call in and ask for help.

I wasn’t about to go down the road of skipping my lunch to make it, because if you do that once then they’ve got you forever. I suspect, however, that there are quite a few letter carriers out there across the load-leveled postal landscape that are doing exactly that – skipping lunch because maybe they feel embarrassed or intimidated they can’t get the job done as fast as they used to be able to on a Tuesday.

But Tuesday is the new Monday, my friends. The DPS mail where I work is now heavier on Tuesday than on Monday, because they process ad mailings in there that they leave behind the day before, and our parcels are heavier as well. Basically the postal cooks are throwing everything into the lumpy Tuesday soup that wouldn’t fit in the little saucepan allocated for Monday. The result is a very sloppy, heavy stew that is barely digestible.

You better watch out, my friends, and you better start counting your mail carefully before you commit. Your load may be leveled, but on some days it’s definitely more level than others, so don’t let them trick you into that old “postal management ostrich head in the sand” routine of “What? I don’t see any mail. It’s Tuesday.” Tuesdays are now the most grueling day of the week, so keep a sharp eye on those low flying ostriches.

Image from my iPhone

Letter Carriers keep America’s Dogs in check – Another reason not to deny the value-added social benefits of the Mailman

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By Mel Carriere

When was the last time you saw an honest to goodness dog catcher chasing down some rabid, runaway hound in a neighborhood where you live or deliver mail to?  Come to think of it – when was the last time you actually saw a stray dog terrorizing passersby?  Unless you live in certain parts of Detroit, Michigan, where I understand dog packs roam unimpeded or unabated, dangerous dogs running loose on the streets of America are not something that people in this country have to deal with much.  Although I’m sure your local animal control officers would love to receive your accolades for keeping you safe from canine terrors, in reality I think most of the credit goes again to that unique, multi-talented and multi-tasking hero, your United States Postal Service letter carrier.

Americans by and large don’t have to worry about doggies nipping at their ankles when out for an evening stroll because the mailman is making sure these canine cretins are inside the house or behind the fence where they belong.  It is a byproduct of delivering the mail.  If a dog is loose when the letter carrier goes by and he or she cannot get to the mailbox then that dog owner’s mail is going to be taken back to the post office and held until the customer goes in and signs a letter saying that the dog will be restrained.  A second offense means the mailbox will be moved out to the curb, and the third strike is the death penalty – no more mail until doggie do us part.  People don’t want that.  They like to get their mail conveniently at home without having to bother to drive and pick it up at a PO Box.  So for the most part Americans keep their dogs inside, and that is why that even though America’s streets may echo with the baying and howling of canines of every pedigree, these dogs are safely restrained and cannot escalate their angst from barking into biting.  True, there are dangerous neighborhoods where dangerous dogs are on the prowl, but these are usually the ones that are delivered to by junior letter carriers who don’t have the experience, or are too afraid to deal with the problem.

I’m not knocking animal control officers by trying to say that these people don’t play an important role in keeping animals in check.  I’m just pointing out that like a lot of government bureaucracies the local animal control office is desperately understaffed these days, and the outings of these officers are limited by budget constraints to tracking down those really dangerous rogue beasts that even the dog owners cannot handle.

That’s okay, because America’s letter carriers continue to fill the void and pick up the slack.  So if people really want to turn over mail delivery to a strictly by the bottom-line company that dispatches low wage employees that don’t care about the neighborhoods they service because they are delivering to a different one every day, then the consequences of such an ill advised action need to be accepted.  Letter carriers fill a lot of different niches that are above and beyond the call of duty, and there is no way to calculate these extra social benefits in dollars and cents.  How many shut-ins are assisted by or even have their lives saved because of letter carriers?  How many lost children get home safely because the mailman spots them, knows where they live, and calls their parents?  How many criminals are scared out of committing a crime because the letter carrier is keeping a vigilant eye on them?  And how many attacks by vicious dog attacks are forestalled before they start because the letter carrier is making sure the neighborhoods he or she delivers to do not become havens for unrestrained pooches?

All of these are value added benefits built into the price of a stamp that people don’t often think about.  It’s a small price to pay for safety, and it’s something Americans need to seriously consider before supporting politicians who seek to dismantle this fantastic institution.

 

Image from:  https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2010/pb22284/html/kit.htm

 

 

 

 

“Ur Funny” – Does Ur Postal Supervisor have you banging Ur head against the wall?

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By Mel Carriere

Most of the time I try to do the right thing, but if you have ever heard the expression “No good deed shall go unpunished” you’ll get the idea of what I’m up against when I try to go above and beyond the call of duty.  Especially when you are wearing a postal uniform, doing the right thing or actually taking your job seriously will more often than not just get you looked at crosswise by your supervisor, or at least conspicuously ignored.

As a case in point, about three weeks ago some very tiny first class packages with bar codes on them came in sequenced with my DPS.  Of course because I wanted to do the right thing I reset my pathetic, technological dinosaur of a scanner to office function so that I could scan these items as Arrival at Unit, knowing that they were going to show up as failures if I did not.  I’m sure that the letter carriers reading this post will agree that this is a time consuming process, because it also involves having to re-synchronize the scanner with the defunct, pathetic, technological equivalent of a wilted wallflower old-maid cell phone we have to carry around.

Nonetheless I felt very proud of myself for having taken the trouble to undergo this exhausting ordeal.  Thinking that my supervisor might appreciate my extra effort, being that she is the one that has to answer for the missed scans, I texted her a picture of the mail pieces and a suggestion that she report this on our district reporting site.  Bar code packages in the DPS are probably going to result in failed scans nine times out of ten so I thought that somebody should be made aware of it.

A few minutes later she texted me back. “Ur funny!  Thx” she said.

What did she mean by that? – I asked myself.  Am I funny because reporting sorting problems from the plant usually means district auditors pouring into your station afterward like the famous light brigade cavalry, or was I funny because I actually cared enough to worry about the Postal Service’s scanning performance, which is very important to our mailing customers and might make a big difference between us getting a contract or one of our competitors.

When I sent the text I wasn’t laughing, I wasn’t even smiling.  I was, in fact, very irritated that I had to go through all of those extra steps to deliver a couple of tiny packages that could be normally dropped into a mailbox without much extra effort.  How was I being funny?

One of the problems with the Postal Service is this “circle the wagons” mentality in which its employees, supervisors especially, are always on the defensive.  The local office will not communicate with the plant, the Area Manager or the Postmaster because they are afraid for being rewarded for their suggestions on how to improve service by being given some extra unwanted vigilance beneath the microscope.  When I went through my brief stint in management I remember how when we would report variances in the dispatch we could expect an audit from Implant Support, usually the next day, that would go over our PM dispatch procedures with a nit picking, fine toothed comb and then report any minor deviation to our Area Manager.  This usually resulted in a good butt whipping for us.  Naturally, we were not too enthusiastic about reporting variances when the result meant being chastised, and I quickly learned the truth and meaning behind the postal adage “No good deed shall go unpunished.”

Maybe I didn’t really learn at all, because I keep on trying.  I keep banging my head against the wall, thinking that the results will be different this time – the clinical definition of insanity, I think.  I keep being passionate about wanting things to be done the right way.  Silly me.

So go ahead and say it – “Ur funny.”  It’s okay, I’m a big boy, I can take it.

 

Photo of this headbanger taken from:  http://councilagainstmedicalschemes.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/headbanging/

Singing the T-6 Blues – the Battle Between Carrier Technician and Regular can turn into ugly hair pulling, b-slapping pissing contents.

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Mel is tired of carrying around the crybabies on his T-6 string

By Mel Carriere

 

Yesterday must have been the downswing in my hormones because I went into work in the mood of a malcontent female feeling the low ebb of the estrogen cycle and when I saw all of the mail the regular left for me it definitely did not improve my fragile emotional state.  I immediately vowed that I am going to put an end to this T-6 experiment I’ve been on for the last two years and start shopping around for a route of my own.  I’m tired of cleaning up everyone’s mess.

Forgive me all of you hard working lady carriers who do the job to the best of your ability every day with nary a word of complaint, but when I bid on my string I didn’t know there would be so many girls on it.  When I looked on the bid sheet I identified five masculine names associated with the routes on the string, so I assumed I would be dealing with people who suck it up and do their job every day.  But the truth is I would rather be dealing with real females on a daily basis because the ladies in our office put the pseudo-chicks I substitute for to absolute shame.

I’m tired of carrying Red Plums and Pennysavers four days a week.  Two or three carriers on my string always manage to wuss out of them on their assigned days and sometimes string them out almost until Friday.  I know that there are legitimate circumstances that force a letter carrier to curtail the coverage on an occasional basis, I’ve done it occasionally myself – but man it’s always the same she-males time and time again.

I can feel the rage and hear the rude comments being flung at me right now and my answer to it is yes, I know it’s a two way street.  There are a lot of worthless T-6s (Carrier technicians) out there and the battle between regular and T6 can be as acrimonious, vindictive, and downright ugly as any drunken Friday night 911 spousal dispute call. 

All I’m trying to say is that we should all just make an honest effort to do our jobs in a forthright, honest fashion so that this wedge between brothers and sisters can’t be driven between us.  An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work – isn’t that what it’s all about?  There are tough Mondays and there are relatively easy Mondays, and I understand that on the tough Mondays tough decisions have to be made in the heat of battle.  But let’s not pretend that every Monday is a killer because the regular leaving the coverage behind for the T-6, or the T-6 leaving the coverage behind for the regular over time becomes a habit that’s as hard to break as nicotine.

Nicotine might be just what I need to calm my jangled nerves right now.  Anybody got a cigarette?  I think I’m going to light one up while I check the bid sheet.

 

Photo of the mailman and satchel-baby taken from:  http://brokenworldnews.com/2013/06/06/worlds-most-decorated-mailman-dies-without-fanfare/

Welcome to Hell – An anonymous reader comments on the life of a CCA

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By Mel Carriere with Anonymous CCA

Every once in a while I come across something that does such a superior a job of saying what I’ve been trying and failing to enunciate that I have to nod my head and say “Damn I wish I had written that.”  Such is the case of a comment left by a CCA on one of my Hub Pages blogs.  Unfortunately this person failed to leave his or her name or any other identifier, apparently seeking to remain anonymous.  But this commenter left some superbly articulated and amusing comments about the plight of the CCA that I thought I would share with you.  Aside from a few fat-finger typos which I will leave as is I think this person is absolutely brilliant, and its author should start his or her own blog immediately.  I don’t necessarily agree with everything that is being said, but I can understand the frustration being expressed.

New CCA here. We need to be back in the office by 5pm. On a very good this is possible. A good day would be one where the DPS isn’t filled with every-house spam, where the flats aren’t too heavy (we case them by hand here), where the scanners will bother to read, where people are home for certified mail, where the weather isn’t a factor, and where I don’t have to deliver parcels to some convoluted building without a secretary. That is to say, it doesn’t happen often. If you’re past 5pm you have to explain why formally. If you didn’t fill out a form saying you were going to be late ahead of time (say, because you didn’t have time) you get in trouble.

The job is very diverse but the overseas think it’s assembly line work, as though you’ll be at the same place at a specific time each day. It’s like trying to predicting the weather 2 weeks out. Too many factors. Why were you a minute late here? I tied my shoe, caught a red light, and sneezed. I have a phone that places my exact location to my boss, even when I’m not being paid during lunch. I envy the rural carriers.

The training academy was essentially a union guy complaining tangentially for hours before rushing through powerpoint presentations to make up the time. I found it odd that the guy welcoming us would rail at length about how bad the post office is. Should have hung a banner that said “Welcome to hell!”

My co-workers complain of being over-managed but the manager complains of the same. All the things he’s enforcing pass strait through him from his boss without the benefit of discretion. I’ve tried to broach this with the co-workers but they like using the manager as a target for their frustration. Nearly every interaction between the two is like watching divorce court.

My co-workers speed-walk during the route and run back to the LLV when they’re out of mail. They also drive like maniacs. Every mail box stop is accompanied by tires screeching and torn up lawns. They routinely skip breaks and have suggested I do the same.

I injured myself in the third week pretty bad and was told to not say anything as any injury would result in termination. I sucked it up and kept going.

A lot of the ideas they have to actually speed up the job are poo-poohed by the union. Things like cluster boxes and curb-side transitions are being fought tooth-and-nail. Instead, the USPS keeps raising expectations of speed, causing injuries, mistakes, and decreased customer service. The union fights against non-USPS store clerks providing postal functions. Instead, the USPS creates positions like the one I’m in where I get paid essentially nothing and do a dangerous job without benefits. Seems like in their fight to keep everything as-is, the quality of the job is eroding and jobs are still being lost.

It’s 50/50 if I’ll make it beyond the probationary period. I’d like to get a career position but if it’s 4-8 year deal there’s probably better ways to secure a future.

 

View the article that generated the comment at:  http://melcarriere.hubpages.com/hub/CCA-Survival-How-to-Make-it-Through-Your-Postal-Trial-by-Fire

 

Image from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dore_woodcut_Divine_Comedy_01.jpg