Friday, March 17, 2017

Postal Tsunami 3/17/2017

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What Is A Sense of Urgency - Musings from The Postal Tsunami

 Are you a letter carrier with a sense of urgency?  Just what is a sense of urgency?  Furthermore, is your urgency my emergency?  Mel ponders the particulars of postal philosophy on The Postal Tsunami.

Postal Tsunami 2/10/2017

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We Deliver Dog Kicks - San Diego Letter Carrier Accused of Punting Pooch

Do letter carriers get their kicks punting pooches?  Or are there legitimate reasons why flailing feet sometimes launch furry footballs into orbit?  The Postal Tsunami explores a San Diego case.

Postal Tsunami 1/20/2017

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Are Postal Customers Preparing for the Trumpocalypse?

Donald Trump is now President, without the reassuring -elect suffix attached.  Are Postal Customers stockpiling, in anticipation of a dreaded Trumpocalypse?

Postal Tsunami 1/2/2017

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Did We Win? - Early Returns Show USPS Makes Further Breakthroughs in The Parcel Delivery Business

Mel tells some heart-warming holiday stories, then reveals secret statistics that demonstrate how the Postal Service is kicking butt on its competitors.  From the pages of the Postal Tsunami.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Postal Service Throws The Election Again - Musings on A Campaign (Almost) Passed

By Mel Carriere

This election season was brutal, and it's not quite over yet.  Here in San Diego it seems that political mail volume soared to new heights, even as voter apathy soared to new heights along with it.  Although many of us are not enthusiastic about going to the polls next Tuesday, November 8th, the mass mailers more than covered the enthusiasm gap by inundating maiboxes with a paper tsunami that literally leveled everything in its path, particularly me.  All of this laborious lugging of ballots, voters guides, revisions to voters guides, and knife thin political ads ranging from postcard to poster size has sent me home exhausted and nursing deep paper cuts, every day.

The question is whether the American public, or even the candidates who benefit from this holocaust of trees, this mass defoliation of millions of acres of irreplaceable forest, thank us for our efforts spent wearing down our already impaired muscles and joints with this extra burden of paper that doesn't weigh much per piece but has your straining satchel scraping the sidewalk when you stuff the blue canvas bag so tight that the seams start to split.  No, rather than express their undying gratitude for our efforts in making democracy work, they are already shouting "rigged election," and lining up to lynch a letter carrier on every street corner.  

Instead of looking in the mirror and saying "I suck, I am a totally uninspiring, uncharismatic, unabashedly unprincipled, unloved, unpleasant, uncouth undesirable," failed candidates and causes are looking to throw you, just an underpaid, underappreciated underling, under the bus.  Every public office-seeker keeps a stable full of scapegoats for pets to drag out bleating and head-butting in the event of failure, and one of these always has a postal logo emblazoned in bold blue letters across the horny nubs on top of its head.

The truth is, the USPS makes it easy for those aspiring to public office to complain when their favorite candidates, namely themselves, fail to top the polls.  Unfortunately, sometimes things happen to the mail.  It is not a perfect system, mistakes are inevitable, but their effects are magnified and multiplied when they happen in the height of the election insanity.  

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, for example, an "unknown number" of absentee ballots were returned to sender because of a mistake in a mail-sorting machine.  Even though "Issues such as these are isolated and the vast majority of ballots are being delivered to election officials without incident," as a Postal Service spokesman was quoted correctly as saying, some embittered nominee is going to use this incident as the reason for why he or she is not being showered with confetti or pelted with champagne corks at a post-election party.  

In Denver, Colorado, an electoral college-tilting total of three voters complained that their mail ballots had been returned to them.  It must have been a very slow news day over there on the Front Range of the Rockies, because the story made headlines.  While not very significant in the big ballot picture, some long-faced loser will pick up this political football and run with it like Leon Lett returning a fumble in Super Bowl XXVII.  Also like laughable Leon, he will ultimately fail when some political Don Beebe knocks the ball, or ballots, out of his hands just shy of the end zone.  Let's face it, three votes does not an election make, but postal bashing is fun and always raises weak ratings on a day when nothing important is happening in the world.

Are there lamentable lapses that occur when politics and post office mix?  Yes, but I believe these isolated incidents of mail-processing snafus ultimately balance out when mail voters show up at polling places to vote twice, as Donald Trump reportedly urged his Colorado supporters to do. Isolated incidents of mail fraud like this balance the scales of isolated incidents of lost, returned, or misplaced mail ballots, for a net effect of zero.

Meanwhile, until Super Tuesday rolls around, go home and take an Advil for your aches, spread the Icy Hot on your ills, because you sure aren't going to get any comfort from the enraged electorate or the belly-aching baby kissers.

Interview tips and more for aspiring CCAS on Tough Nickel

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Are Mailmen Stupid? Any "Advise?"

By Mel Carriere

Okay, I admit I probably wasn't making good life choices when I raised my right hand back in December, 1993 for something other than to give my Billy Idol White Wedding impression.  I had a wife and  a year old son to take care of, the bank I was working for had gone belly up, and the Post Office money looked too damn good to say no to..  So I joined the approximately 20,000 others who piled into the Scottish Rites Center, took the test, and became one of the approximate 100 or so among the ranks of the "uneducated"  who was accepted for postal employment

In retrospect, maybe it wasn't one of the most brilliant moves in my life - I often ponder the "what ifs" and "might have beens" if I had done otherwise, but here I am and there is no use crying about it now.

In spite of spending a lot of time wasting "taxpayer" dollars daydreaming, instead of working, about how things would have turned out if we had gone to Med School or taken the Bar Exam, we old school Postal Employees believe we're a pretty clever lot.  The hring standards have been lowered these days, simply because the starting wages are less when you adjust for inflation (which we are not smart enough to do because we are only postal employees, after all), but back then it wasn't easy to get this job.  It was a highly competitive process, and maybe only 5 or 10 out of a thousand were able to sneak through.  They sold books and courses and even had classes about how to pass the test.  If you were smart enough to get in, I think a little self congratulation was appropriate.

Therefore, I suppose this is why it rankles me when somebody bursts my bubble by implying that we, the proud men and women of Planet Postal - a warped little world in a skewed orbit around a dim, distant star in the uncharted regions of deep space, are less "educated" than those of obviously superior interstellar civilizations who would turn their noses askance at us.  This is exactly what someone did in the comments section of one of my articles yesterday.  Here's the comment:

I'm not going to share this person's real name, so let's just call him Ed, since he is obviously  so"ed"ucated.  Poor Ed, you just don't get the bang for your buck with a college degree anymore, do you?  Back when I was coming up, you couldn't even get out of junior high, much less college, without knowing that "regretting" has two 'ts,' not one.  Before we get started here, take my "advise," Ed, and recheck your resume to make sure you are not confusing the noun "advice" with the verb "advise" anywhere else.  This could be why you are forced to work for the Post Office now.  Some hiring managers reading your resume might actually be familiar with proper English construction.  Not many, but some.

Okay, the teacher is done spell checking and otherwise grammar correcting the assignment, so now let's get down to identifying any logical fallacies in Ed's arguments.

First and foremost, Poor Ed is employing what is known as a "false premise."  Dear Lord I hope Poor Ed was not planning on going to law school, or he will be eaten alive by some stern logician. A false premise is "an incorrect proposition that forms the basis of an argument or syllogism."  In this case, Ed is incorrectly proposing that nobody in the Postal Service has a college degree.  What he has failed to investigate is that the corridors of Post Offices across the land are littered with pieces of paper proclaiming academic achievement that mostly get swept up and thrown out by the custodian, along with plastic bundle straps and broken rubber bands.

Indeed, there are plenty of broken dreams of unfulfilled potential here in the Postal Service.  Many of us have, or know a coworker who has a pretty framed degree hanging on the wall at home that gradually gets moved further and further into the inner, scarcely visited rooms of the house as it becomes a source of ever more embarrassing questions.  Could be that Ed's future postal boss also has one of these eye-catching, but largely useless decorations that he or she doesn't like to talk about? It is possible that Ed's trainer has one too.

Which causes me to wander off the point to speculate about the value of a college degree these days.  In this day and age when "free trade" agreements have caused good paying jobs to be outsourced to low paid workers in other countries, everybody is going to school to try and get a better paycheck.  From what my feeble Postal brain grasped from the laws of supply and demand in college Economics class  (Yes Ed! - I have a piece of paper too, how remarkable), as the supply of any given commodity goes up, its price, or value, goes down, everything else being equal.  Which means, in plain English, that these pretty pieces of paper don't mean squat when everybody has one, which is probably why Poor Ed is looking for a job in the Post Office now.

I wish Ed all the best.  I harbor him no ill will or rancor.  I just wish he would get over himself and get some wisdom to go along with that impressive degree he has hanging on the wall.  I wish he would stop making unwarranted assumptions about people based on what he perceives to be the skill level of their jobs.  I wish he would learn some humility, because if he walks into a Post Office with this attitude he will be humbled more quickly and painfully than is probably good for his delicate, developing ego.  
And one other thing I wish.  I wish Ed would take my "advise" and learn to speak English.

Can someone "advice" me how to get more people to click on my ads in order to support the Mel Carriere Foundation - which, like the Clinton and Trump Foundations, funnels the proceeds directly into my pocket?  If you like the Tsunami please support my sponsors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tender Mailman Messages - Just Wanted to Let You Know

By Mel Carriere

Stevie Wonder just called to say I love you.  Postal Customers check in sometimes too, just to let letter carriers know.  Not to let us know that they love us, necessarily, but to pass along what's going on in their mail-related lives, to give us a heads up about what sort of exciting, life-altering manna from Postal Heaven might be dropping into their mailboxes.  They pass along a friendly little smile on a sticky note, but the X-ray vision of any experienced Postman can see the dripping, snarling fangs issuing a dire warning from behind the cute upturned corners of that ink drawn grin.

You see such a preemptive epistle in the photo above. Translated into non-postal English, it can be summarized as:  Hey dumbs**t, I'm expecting my check, so don't f**k it up!

I get the point, Fabian, you sticky note scribbler extraordinaire. I understand your angst.  You need to get paid, just like I do, and you are in a high state of anxiety because of it.  But there are a few problems presented by the way you have chosen to bare your soul on a post-it.

First of all, when your Social Security Check finally rolls in through the inter-dimensional magic of mail delivery, it will probably have your last name on it too.  I don't think it will just say FABIAN above the address line.  I could be wrong, but I think most of the time the Social Security Department, as well as most other US Government institutions, require a last name.  If you don't have a last name, you might want to think about getting one.  I know you were in a frenzy of fretfulness when you penned me this lovely note, but if it turns out you do have a last name, you should have included that on the note.  Yeah, the barn door is open and the cows are already out, not much we can do about it now - but in the one in 17 billion chance you randomly stumble across this blog on the Internet, please update the sticky with all the pertinent information.

The next somewhat troublesome thing I was wondering about, Dear Fabian, is what do you think I would do with your anxiously anticipated Social Security check if you neglected to write me a sticky note to let me know it was coming?  Stamp it up NO STICKY NOTE and return it to sender, even if the address is completely correct; then chuckle mirthfully about it with my coworkers? Ha!  That silly old huckster Fabian forgot to give me a sticky note for his Social Security Check! - after which we all roll on the floor in belly shaking spasms of laughter, because all America knows that nothing makes Letter Carriers happier than making our customers' lives miserable by returning their checks to sender.

There is one more small problem that is making it difficult for me to deliver your Social Security Check, Fabian, in spite of your sticky note, or maybe because of it.  Seems like in your rush to get this life-sustaining information to me, you almost completely covered up your address on the mailbox.  It wasn't so much the sticky note per se, but the blue painting tape you used.  You really went to town with that blue painting tape.

Contrary to popular opinion, most esteemed Fabian, letter carriers don't deliver via telepathy.  Some of us like to see the addresses on the boxes we are delivering to., kind of helps. 

Of course, I'm the regular, so I know pretty much which box is which, but say I'm off the day that your patiently awaited check comes in, and the person delivering my route can't read the addresses because of blue painting tape, duct tape, welding flux, or whatever other adhesive device you have chosen to affix the sticky note with?

This brings up two more widespread myths embraced by the American Public about letter carriers that you, Dear Fabian, might also subscribe to. 1. - The day we are hired, we are expected to memorize the approximate 155 million addresses in the United States.  This is why, when we're out delivering mail and a person from out of town stops and asks us where an address five zip codes away is and we say we don't know, he looks at us like we are either stupid, or lying.

2 - The second myth is that the same letter carrier delivers the same route 365 days a year, including Sundays and holidays. 

Because of these popular mailman myths, Fabian, you are thinking that my substitute mailman will be able to deliver your check regardless of whether he can see the number or not.

Hate to burst your bubble, but neither of these myths are true.  It is flattering, Fabian, that you think we are capable of such prodigious feats of memory, along with superhuman stamina to be able to work around the clock, every day of the year, but these things are just urban legend, not reality.

The reality is that we only have to memorize half the addresses in the United States.  But we still have a problem, Fabian, because I have it on good authority that your particular address is not included in the half that my day-off guy had to memorize.

Sorry Fabian.  S.O.L, I guess.  But here's a sideways smile back to you, if that helps. :)

Keeping track of 155 million addresses is exhausting, so Mel requires a lot of expensive, high grade coffee to keep going.  To help Mel buy it, please investigate what his sponsors have to say.  

More by Mel on Hub Pages - Warning to all CCAs thinking about crossing over to the dark side. READ THIS FIRST1