Sunday, July 29, 2018

Light Summer Mail?

By Mel Carriere

There is really no appropriate adjective to describe the evaluation process letter carriers put new managers through when they assume control of a new office.  The new bosses typically come in fanning their tail feathers like peacocks, pounding their chests like territorial apes, marking boundaries YOU SHALL NOT PASS with verbal territorial pissings that form steaming, stinking puddles at morning service talks. Don't eat that yellow snow as you watch newbie boss make his debut.

Is interesting a good word for these opening dramatics?  Not unless you're the type who thinks train derailments, with dozens of casualties plummeting from a railroad bridge into a river below, are interesting.

How about entertaining? Some people back in the early 70s thought the Watergate hearings were entertaining - scores of monotone senators and lawyers saying the same thing in a multitude of equally mind-numbing ways when all this nine year old really wanted to do was watch I Dream of Jeannie, which had been preempted by the witch hunt.

Curios would seem to be the operative word, though this would be a very jaded curiosity, nudged along reluctantly by a lack of hope that things will change for the better as the new alpha dog takes over.  When scrutinizing new managers, letter carriers are indeed curious, but in the same way as biologists hiding in a blind in the deep forest to observe a heretofore little studied species.  BS meters and other sensors are deployed at the ready, but there is really no expectation that the behaviors of this new knuckle dragger will be radically different from the last one.

For a regrettably brief time period our station had a manager who did not ambulate upon his knuckles, one who actually acknowledged there is a reality that cannot be quantified by the computerized abstractions of DOIS, someone who was surprisingly willing to listen to our suggestions.  Naturally this could not continue.  When upper management caught wind that carriers liked their boss they had no choice but to replace him with someone made in their image, another thick headed brute who blindly accepted the pipe dream projections of isolated, air conditioned cubicle jockeys somewhere out there in the kingdom of far far away.  Their gospel turned out to be his mantra, his rosary, his deliverance from the evil of having to think for himself.

As usual, the new boss tried to soften up our formidable anti-bs defense system by magnanimously declaring he was not there to discipline, but to teach, coach, and mentor.  This triumvirate of untrustworthy tripe, this truckload of trivial treacle made me wonder how effective the teaching, coaching and mentoring could be from someone who had jumped straight from 204b to station manager, without any intervening layovers in the supervisor trenches.

The neophyte slathered on his syrup rather thickly, but the pancake underneath was as dry and insipid as before.  Apparently, our manager's game plan was to use cute and cuddly catch phrases to get us to pole vault through his impossibly high mail hoops.  His favorite verse in his Bible of bewitching BS turned out to be light summer mail.  Over the course of the next couple of weeks, he bandied the term about like an exorcist sprinkling holy water to cast out overtime demons.  He was a cult leader convincing his flock to drink the kool-aid that will transport them to the magic mother ship in the sky.  Light summer mail was a real thing, he assured us, sanctioned by some official postal Dead Sea Scrolls seen only by a privileged cabal.  Therefore, in spite of our misgivings, we were expected to turn our eyes from the mountains of mail before us toward the calendar, then go out into the world and perform mail miracles, empowered now as we were by the voodoo incantation of light summer mail.

The problem with the doctrine of light summer mail is that the postal scribes cloistered away in wilderness caves hundreds of years ago, copying down the sacred revelations for posterity, had never heard of the Internet.  They knew nothing of e-commerce.  The Amazon apocalypse had not been prophesied.  These soothsayers could not foresee a future where 100 plus packages had to be wedged into the tiny LLV cargo compartment with a shoehorn.  Heck, at the time the postal sages were writing down their dreams and visions about light summer mail we were still delivering out of Pintos.  When I was a PTF, a few short centuries ago when light summer mail still applied, one day due to a vehicle crisis I delivered an entire route from the back seat of my Chevy Cavalier.

In the here and now, the mail no longer respects the seasons.  Admittedly, the letters and flats are lighter during the days when the sun loiters long in the loft and the mercury makes mailmen melt, but parcels know no pause, they carry no calendar.  Postal packages don't disappear to some time share in Florida during the dog days. They take no vacations.

What our hypnotist manager also neglected to tell us, surely a simple oversight on his part, was that Amazon Prime Sunday fell on July 16th.  The light in light summer mail  I experienced after that was the light headedness I suffered lugging a fifty pound baby carriage up a flight of stairs, tossing a hefty box of dogfood over a fence, and wearing off the fingerprints on my scanning finger pressing that damn button 146 times.  I can now commit crimes with impunity, because there are no more identifying marks on my digits.

Like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, light summer mail is a nice fable to make the kiddies behave themselves, but my new boss is blinded by the light if he thinks he can light a fire under my old, sagging, dragging ass to get this mountain of light summer mail to move any faster.

Postal Tsunami Musical Guest Bruce Springsteen
Another Boss blinded by the light summer mail

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In Memory of Letter Carrier Peggy Frank - Could the Scanner Have Saved Her?

By Mel Carriere

By now, everybody within the Postal Tsunami's destructive swale, which sounds swell but is sometimes not, has heard the story of Peggy Frank, a letter carrier who was found dead in her truck on Friday, July 6th, in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles.  Then again, maybe you haven't gotten the message.  Here in southern California we have been inundated with heat related safety talks since the incident, which occurred on a heatwave day when the temperature hit a record breaking 117 in that area. Perhaps, however, in the flyover hotbox/icebox where you live, such weather related fatalities are commonplace and the event did not cause much of a stir.

I am certainly not expecting those of you letter carriers who bundle up like Eskimos in winter and strip to the skivvies in summer to do much crying for us out here in Socal, just because our mercury hit triple digits for one week.  What I would like to do, rather, is use this incident to rant over the question of why the technology the Postal Service uses to inflict evil upon carriers, through the dark magic of that little blue talisman called your scanner, cannot also be used to do good, especially when a climatic crisis requires it.

First a few facts. Peggy Frank was pronounced dead at 3:35 PM on that fatal Fry-day after a "bystander or co-worker" found her unresponsive in her postal vehicle.  Attempts by emergency personnel to revive her failed.  Several reports state Ms. Frank had just returned from medical leave, one article saying she had been out with a broken ankle.  Although Frank had suffered heat related incidents in the past, the severe heat has not yet been identified as the cause of death, pending "additional tests." Hmm... Methinks if I were wagering on that horse race, with the temperature the day of her tragic demise approaching infinity and beyond, that old nag Heat Stroke would be safe money.

I suppose we will learn the grim details soon enough. In the meantime, the woeful, premature passing of a grandmother who was nearing retirement prompts me to wonder why, if the Postal Service is equipped with technology that can monitor every step you take, snap a surreptitious scanner photo of you picking your nose or send the alarms in the scanner-snoop war room howling when you exceed your lunch by so much as a second,  why can't they do the same thing to find out if you are safe during a massive heat wave? If safety is, indeed, the mother of all priorities management pays lip service to every day at service talks, this would be a cool thing to do when it's warm.

Even before this incident, I had been pondering other benevolent uses for our postal scanners. For instance, could we not use their GPS data to verify that letter carriers are taking their 30 minute lunches, as required by contract and by law?  I'm sure managers as well as carriers are dedicated to the proposition of following state law, right? So in addition to a stationary report, our favorite sunglass-clad Agent Smith, monitoring the sanctity of the Postal Matrix up there in the warped consciousness where there is no red pill to return to reality, could also run a "non-stationary" report, to pinpoint those carriers' scanners that do not have a half hour pause in activity, meaning  they skipped their lunches. Certainly the Postal Service recognizes the importance of adequate rest and nutrition to safety.  Seeing as how my manager swears on a daily basis that seeing us all go home safe is his number one priority, I'm surprised he never thought of this.

But the burning question in the here and now is whether that  little blue leash tethering us to Postal Big Brother could have saved letter carrier Peggy Frank. The staff of the Postal Damage Control Department did not weigh in on this issue, even though they were in a higher state of readiness than whoever was supposed to be manning Spy Central that sizzling San Fernando day. In contrast to the sluggards at the Postal peep show, the ensuing response from corporate communications was quickly forthcoming, though poorly fumigated, reeking mightily of "Pass the Buck," to me.

As the crisis unveiled, Postal spokeswoman Evelyn Ramirez was quoted in the  LA Daily news as saying that USPS employees deliver mail in “...all kinds of weather, including high temperatures... The Postal Service strives to ensure that they have the tools and training to do so safely."

I wonder what sort of tools and training Ms. Ramirez is talking about.  As a letter carrier, my only training for heat related incidents is being reminded to hydrate and call the supervisor in an emergency.  These seem to be instinctive, no-brainer, no training required actions imbued within us before we pop out of the womb. The reptile brain stem says drink when you are thirsty and cry for Mommy when you need help, although we know how appeals to stressed out postal mommies wind up.  Can you rest a few minutes and give me another swing?  One teeny-weeny swingy?  Okay, how about an hour? I'll tell you what.  I'll give you overtime so you can cool down and finish the route.

Here's an anecdotal example of how our postal parents are trained to handle heat related incidents.  A few summers ago a new CCA at our station suffered heat exhaustion and was unable to continue.  She called the hot line repeatedly but, surprise surprise, no one answered.  Finally she called another letter carrier who swung by, scraped her off the sidewalk and got her help. 

This anecdote is not an isolated occurrence. The Los Angeles Daily news reported that in 2016 "...OSHA cited the Postal Service after two Des Moines, Iowa, workers suffered heat-related illness while delivering mail that past summer. The agency found that the two mail carriers, one of whom was told to continue walking her route despite feeling ill, were exposed to excessive heat." Thus we see that this cool response to heat-related complaints is pervasive, sweeping across the breadth of the organization, and that our so called beat the heat training is mostly a lot of hot air.

So much for training, but let's get back to these so-called tools Ms. Ramirez claims are in place to protect us against heat incidents. Could the postal spin doctors be  speaking of the scanner messages we get each morning that remind us to drink water, like anyone needs to be reminded when one's sweat and body heat are so thick they create a miniature weather front inside the pith helmet?   There are tools potentially more effective than these inspirational morning eye openers, but they are not being used.  For instance, a simple call from whoever is on watch in that converted broom closet at the stationary report command center, warning that such and such carrier has been in one place over half an hour, could be used to save someone from blue lining in postal blue.  No carrier likes to be spied on, but if the spies in the sky are already on post, couldn't they use their powers for good on occasion?

Instead, my eyes burn with the fumes from the smokescreen being fanned up to cover complicity in this heartbreaking development in Woodland Hills. I suspect that, in reality, Ms. Ramirez' quip about "tools and training" may be the Postal Service's preemptive strike to shift blame from USPS management onto poor Ms. Frank. Accidents happen, death is inevitable for all, but I ask the question why the same resources used to monitor our every move couldn't have been used to rescue poor Peggy - may the postal angels transport her to glory in that sweet, air-conditioned LLV in the sky.

Photo from

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Postal Lottery Losers Crash and Burn

By Mel Carrier

For many postal customers, the rough idle and clunking valves of passing postal vehicles is the sweet music of a clanging cash register, sounding out like the trumpets of angels as the eagerly anticipated largesse of the heavens open up and manna floats down in the form of expected cash settlements.  In most of these incidents, the neon flashing dollar signs in the eyes of money hungry customers are quickly doused by the tight fisted tactics of stingy Uncle Sam, who doesn't open his fat wallet without a fight, but it doesn't keep eager, enterprising capitalists from trying.  Raised to depend upon government paychecks, and reared with a sense of entitlement, who can resist the temptation to milk more money from that sore teat cash cow?

An incident occurred with a friend and co-worker earlier in the week that hearkened me back musing about just how many times I have encountered the postal welfare phenomenon.  While stopping at a set of stop and hop style mailboxes along the sidewalk, an angry customer barged out of the house and accused my co-worker of hitting his car.  Our manager soon arrived to conduct an investigation, which revealed absolutely no damning marks on the LLV's bumper.  Since my own LLV bumper is colored by the yellows of caressed fire hydrants, the reds of kissed no parking posts, and the greens of fondled loading zone signs, combined together colorfully in a pallette worthy of Picasso, I know that brushing a passing butterfly is enough to paint that black rubber canvas. Therefore, I tend to believe my friend's version of events, especially since the deep gouge on the customer's car was much higher than the LLV bumper and ran vertically, not horizontally, as one would expect from an LLV swipe.

I can hear the wheels whirring in the customer's brain, thumping in time to the telltale straining and groaning engine noise of the approaching LLV.  His wife is on his case to fix that gouge on the bumper he got hitting a Lime Bike last week.  One of his 40 oz drinking homies told him about an accident his wife's sister's cousin had with a postal vehicle and how it's a sure payout.  So he wastes no time throwing a hoodie on over his prison tattoos and storming out to the mailbox to blame the letter carrier for the scrape on his SUV bumper, which can barely be discerned above the Raiders sticker and the deep scratches from other drunken follies.  Altogether his bumper looks like a NASA photo I saw of the fractured surface of one of Jupiter's moons.

I am pretty sure every American letter carrier, from old timers to those just shedding their CCA diapers, has had anywhere between one to half a dozen similar experiences.  I can only relate my own sundry stories from yonder years, all sharing a certain degree of similitude, differing only in the devil of the details.

I was a young thoroughbred racehorse, barely out of the starting block of my Postal career, when I made the mistake of steering my vehicle down a long driveway to deliver a package.  A customer popped out like a yapping Chihuahua to accuse me of hitting her garage door.  The ensuing investigation revealed that I was not at fault.  The lesson I took away from this is that I will hike a mile uphill through thorny scrub, rappel down a near vertical cliff face, or swim through Piranha-infested waters to deliver a package before I will near a customer's garage with my Postal vehicle again.

Much later on, only a few Christmases ago, the owner of a van driving by my parked and unoccupied postal vehicle accused me of hitting her.  She was insinuating, I suppose, that my LLV somehow lunged at hers with nobody behind the wheel, like in one of those Stephen King novels from his pre-rehab period.  The ensuing investigation revealed that I was not at fault.  The lesson I took away from this is that crazy will find you no matter how hard you try to hide, and that desperate people will try anything to make a buck.

The last experience my age-addled brain recalls did not involve a motor vehicle at all, but a lack of wheels won't stop a long-snouted lover of lucre once they have caught the scent of blood in the water. There is more than one way to skin a letter carrier, or to fleece an entire organization.

This hound dog hot on my trail was harrying me about a check, which they claimed I had lost.  The particulars of this case could fill an entire blog post, but suffice it to say that this "rhymes with witch" accused me of slapping her with the notice left slip I gave her with the 800 number snitch line. She stormed indigantly into the Post Office screaming out accusations of assault by paper cut.  Unfortunately for her, she recorded the entire incident on her phone, but her own video did not support her version of events.  The ensuing investigation revealed that I was not at fault.  My manager viewed the video, told the customer that she was harassing the carrier, and chased her out of the office with another losing postal lottery ticket.  I never saw or heard from her again.  The lesson I took away from this is that it is sometimes easier to stalk a stationary target than a moving one.

Of course, I understand that not all such encounters end agreeably for the letter carrier.  On a perfect postal planet, competent managers are able to sniff through several layers of petrified, putrified BS to arrive at the truth.  But few of our postal planets lie in the Goldilocks zone.  Most postal planets are uninhabitable for intelligent life forms.  So don't let babies play with matches, and don't let 204Bs play with accident kits.  The consequences of such can be fatal for letter carriers being stalked by unscrupulous LLV chasers looking for a jackpot.

Fortunately, these potentially fatal attractions ended well for me, and this time I guess all's well that ends well for my friend.  There were no long term deleritous effects, just a sticky, slimy residue of obscene greed that doesn't quite wash off the first time in the bath.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Amazon's First Rodeo

They have sullied your doorstep with their unsightly brown droppings.  Prime TV violates the sanctity of your regularly scheduled programs.  Alexa talks dirty to you.  The drone squadron buzzes overhead, taking reconnaissance photos of your front porch.  And now a delivery fleet of bronc busting rodeo cowboys - or clowns?  Confused? Read on, it gets worse.

By Mel Carriere

The new dynamic of modern mail delivery means sharing the mean, dog eat dog streets with people driving strange vehicles, some of them wearing some funky ash uniforms.  Gone are the comforting times of the big three - us vs the boys in brown what can they do for you and the blue and orange that will get your package there overnight no matter where in the world but can't get a man and his volleyball off an island in the South Pacific. One almost waxes nostalgic for those days. Those were serious postal competitors indeed, but normal parts of the suburban scenery.  Now they too are struggling for solvency against the upstarts on the block. 

Chief among these are Jeff Bezo's low paid henchmen, the cult of the big A, an amoeba-like monster that increasingly consumes everything you are about, from what arrives on your doorstep, what plays on your TV, what alluring, silky voiced robot voice babysits your child, and very soon what fleet of drones is that bombing your house.

Amazon's unstated but pretty obvious goal is to control every facet of your life by air, by land and by sea. Toward this end the company has taken measures to reduce and eventually eliminate having to pay anyone to move its products the "last mile," what we here in the Postal Service call "the green mile," because our indentured servitude to this corporate beast is killing us.  But even though Bezos and pals can ship their packages with the postal service at 75 percent below what it actually costs us to move those mountains of merchandise that arrive at your delivery unit whenever they feel like it, it is not enough.  The ultimate goal of Amazon is nothing less than to manufacture, sell and ship everything in America, correction, the world, without any barbaric outsiders soiling it with their non Bezos-blessed hands.

The latest word on these mean mail streets is that Amazon is planning to use livestock to distribute its inexhaustible inventory of clothes, furniture, very slightly used toilet paper and a few books here and there thrown in for nostalgia. That's right, you heard it here first, a genuine tsunami scoop, taken from a source directly inside the Amazon operation.

A few weeks ago I had my first encounter with one of these new rough riding Amazon operators who popped up without warning and stole my usual parking space with his cumbersome rented U-haul van.  My first impression was that this dude was stealing packages, not delivering them.  From his appearance, I couldn't help but get the idea that Amazon is not heavily vetting these delivery "pioneers," to paraphrase their employment sales pitch.  This cat was not some bustling dynamo parcel post pathfinder, in other words. Instead, he carried the rather jaded, distant, resigned air of a man who has spent long hours in enforced isolation.  His rather thick middle eastern accent indicated previous employment either as a cab driver, or maybe work release from Gitmo.

The apartments I was delivering to are gated.  Because this man had no access to the secret inner postal sanctum my arrow key provided, he asked if I would let him in so he could deliver his packages, which were not pilfered after all, probably.  I know he was the enemy, I know  he was the competition, I know I should have been a dick about it, but because I am pretty much a sucker for any sad sack sob story I opened the gate.  He then asked me directions to a couple of the addresses and I gave him that too.  I basically turned over the keys to the kingdom.  I should have just removed my sacred arrow key and handed it over.  I figured the guy was just trying to make a living.

The next day another Amazon deliverer showed up, in the same apartments, but this one didn't elicit quite as much sympathy on my part.  He was wearing a reflective vest, the kind you see on airport tarmacs, that barely covered his prison tattoos.  I admit I am drawing broad conclusions from a very limited sample size, but so far the common denominator behind these Amazon hired guns seemed to be the rather liberal application of the eau de incarceration scent. I didn't ask, but wondered why was he wearing a reflective vest in broad daylight?  The only plausible explanation was that his rental truck also contained a pair of runway marshalling wands that would be used to call down the drone fleet when Bezos gave the secret signal.

Somehow this second Amazon driver had already gotten past the fence, whether by pole vaulting, whether by file in a cake I don't know.  He had a small pile of parcels stacked by the NDCBU mailboxes, which he was scanning, evidently with the idea of doing the old dump and run, in other words leaving them on top of the postal receptacles.  Unlike the day before, this time I was not so accommodating  Those mailboxes are my turf.  

"You can't leave those packages there," I told him.

He looked up from his scanning with a surly expression, just like the time the warden told him to snuff out his cigarette.

"I know," he growled.  "This ain't my first rodeo."

Evidently this Bezos crony was a little Stir Crazy, and if you catch my drift your fondness for old prison rodeo movies makes me just a little uncomfortable.  Anyhow, the revelation from the delivery driver meant the Amazon rodeo and its accompanying contingent of clowns are in town, ready to ride and rope their way to your doorstep, saddled up on bucking bulls and broncos, putting on the spurs to get your prime purchase down the chute and into your corral by the most expedient means possible, including unbroken, non PETA approved hoofed mammals.

From a postal perspective, what does the presence of Amazon parcel slingers across the dusty cowtowns of America mean? Do we panic? Do we circle the wagons?  Do we believe the hoop and holler of our postmasters and managers wailing and rending their garments because they believe this Amazon parcel rustling will result in our biting the dust and being trampled underfoot?

Consider a Washington Examiner article reporting that the Postal Service loses $1.46 for every package delivered for Amazon. Trump got wind of this study and tweeted that Amazon is making the Postal Service poorer and dumber.  Maybe for once he's right.  Maybe this organization is so addicted to the sweet Amazon pipe dream that we can't see the reality of what it is doing to us.  Maybe we need some mail methadone to ease us off this debilitating dependence on Amazon as a cure all for our itching, leaking bottom line.

The Amazon rodeo has stirred up a big cloud of dust hiding the fact that parcels aren't going away.  I know this because, in addition to my annoying propensity to share my drunken rants via the medium of the blogosphere, I also am a statistics nerd.  This is a hobby that, while edifying to a handful of virginal, mother's-basement-dwelling math dweebs, makes it awful hard to get dates.  Since I don't get out much, I spend time compiling statistics for my route.  Therefore, I can tell you that before the Amazon decline, my route averaged 103 scans per day.

Guess what my scan average is since the recent abrupt cessation of the Amazon  stampede? You guessed it, my little buckaroos, 103.  Parcel volume went down slightly at first, but bounced back like a thrown bronc buster rebounding off one of those clown barrels.

What these numbers mean to me is that, while Bezos in his massive twenty or even 50 gallon hat might be trying his own round up of virtually everything, there are other postal customers out there, actual paying customers, that have moved in to fill that empty stall in our stable he recently vacated.

Maybe getting thrown like this, while embarrassing, was not such a great loss.  Perhaps it was time to cut our losses and cull the parcel herd.  Ride em cowboy.

Photo from The Cowboy Lifestyle Network

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Package Confound, Dumbfound, Not Found

By Mel Carriere

Working for the Post Office for 24 years now I have seen so many strange managerial practices, ranging from eyebrow furrowing questionable to complete shaking my head "do I really gotta do that?" that one would think the limits of my protective cocoon of incredulity could not be stretched any further.  But now, with the implementation of the Loading feature on the Mobile Delivery Device (Scanner), I believe we have reached the apex of deliberately executed inefficiency, so that further striving toward maintaining our reputation as the organization most likely to shoot itself in the foot and like it is not going to bear fruit that smells any fouler than this.

Parcel loading times were evidently not long enough, so somebody in a postal think tank (servicing the toilet in stall #3 just off the boardroom at 475 L'Enfant Plaza), had a brainstorm that smelled more like a brain fart and pretty much cleared the room.  Why don't we, sayeth this seat warming sage of starry-eyed senselessness, create a system that adds an unnecessary extra step for experienced carriers who already know  how to line up their parcels and don't need directives from a soulless, schizoid robotic voice to tell them what imaginary quadrant to toss a package into, while at the same time, as an added bonus, utterly confuses the diapers right off the newbies who have never carried that route before, making sure they will waste time they don't have, but we like to pretend they do, crawling through a tangled mess of haphazardly thrown parcels in the back of the LLV and frequently backtracking.

If the objective here was to create a system to assist the bewildered CCA to sidestep the time consuming parcel numbering process I could understand.  Except: 1) the underlying architecture of the plan is faulty, 2) whatever algorithm divies up the packages into their respective "zones" does not do so equitably and 3) the technology does not appear to have been tested, evidenced by the fact that it doesn't work in real life, only in postal fairyland.

1) - Architecture. Lincoln said that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and an adjunct of this timeless truth is that parcels divided against themselves cannot stand, but will certainly fall, tumbling over into zones where they do not belong, creating a great deal of avoidable backtracking and foul epitaphs that will make your granny's sainted ears melt.  

In other words, the load feature creates six imaginary zones, as much a figment of your imagination as the first down marker that you plainly see on your TV but the running back of your favorite team obviously cannot as he tumbles to earth three inches shy of it, bringing on the punting unit again.  Postal punting is painful.  I just said that because it sounded alliterative, not because it has any bearing on the conversation.  Anyhow, the point is that there are no physical barriers separating these zones, and as John Cougar said almost as famously as Lincoln, the walls keep tumbling down, causing zone 6 to bleed into zone 4 and 5, and even a lonely stray from zone 1 showing up at the bottom of zone 6 fifteen minutes short of quitting time, evoking much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2) - Bad algorithm blues.  Another famous stone head of Mt Rushmore wrote that all men are created equal, but load feature zones were not created with any of these egalitarian principles in mind, because the distribution of parcels among the various zones appears to have been doled out as if a loaded dice is landing on the number six over and over again.  My route has over 900 deliveries, and about the last 400 fall into zone 6.  These last 400 deliveries require 32 starts and stops of the vehicle.  The load feature does not seem to recognize the importance of having my parcel ducks lined up in a row, which is to limit package mining through a teetering, untidy mass, a process that almost inevitably leads to a deadly cave in and corresponding foul language that is wasted because no one can hear you curse from the bottom of the parcel avalanche. Especially not your grandmother, whose unblemished eardrums were already fried in step one. Repeat process 31 more times.  Furthermore, this behemoth zone that has been gerrymandered into Leviathan status by the scanner's secret software system towers like the Himalayas over Death Valley's Badwater Basin, creating an enormous ripple in the space time continuum, an event horizon over which parcels tumble and disappear, only to reappear later at unexpected times and inconvenient places.

3) - Twisted Technology.  Another man who failed to make the cut for Rushmore, but got honorable mention on the hundred dollar bill and also, quite appropriately, was appointed first Postmaster General, once said that "The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." 

Not too many Benjamins were spent on this Load Feature project, I believe.  One gets the feeling it was conceptualized on a bar napkin over the course of a drunken weekend, then rolled out still hungover on Monday.  My basis for this assertion is the persistent prevalence of the "package not found" error message. Instead of spitting out a zone like it is supposed to in these situations, the scanner insists that it can not find the package, leading to a lot of pointless metaphysical speculation.  Packages imprint upon letter carriers like orphaned baby ducks.  They are definitely there, we can see them, we can hear them quack, but the scanner insists they are not there at all, not just once in a while but repeatedly.

The first time I used the Load Feature (not by choice), I was left with a half dozen not found, I suppose you could call them orphaned milk carton packages, that I smugly and self-righteously ran back to the clerk's, thinking I would bash their little function four skulls in with them for having missed arrival at unit scans.  This would have been very satisfying and a lot of fun, but every single one of the not found packages turned out to have an arrival at unit, and no one had a clue why they were showing up as "not found."

Everybody is still clueless.  The system still sucks.  I have to ask what good is this L feature to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of CCAs if they still have to haul back several not found packages into the office to write relay numbers on, even though they (the packages not CCAs) are hiding like an elephant playing peek-a-boo behind a flagpole?

And how does a letter carrier, CCA or regular alike, respond to this pimpled prom date of a poorly planned, shoddily executed parcel loading system?  Do we fight to fix it or silently accept it?  Do we dissent or consent? Do we acquiesce to cluelessness?

In postal land we know we get paid to do stupid stuff, so we will pretend to be wise in going along with the program, even though we are really just too numb to care. An English bard, obviously married, who certainly would have his face chiseled into Rushmore had he lived in Virginia or Illinois instead of Stratford upon Avon, admonishes us in closing with these words of wisdom from Richard III - "Dispute not with her she is lunatic."

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.