Monday, December 29, 2014

Does the Postal Service Really need a "Major" Fix?

By Mel Carriere

Sometimes on my day off I like to get up early and skim through the postal headlines at Postal News or Postal Reporter for a topic that will inspire me.  Almost always there is some feel good story there like how a letter carrier borrows a neighbor's ladder to save an elderly person trapped in a second story bedroom, or how an entire post office adopts a family of children when the mother is being treated for life-threatening cancer.  These sites are full of stories from around the country demonstrating that postal employees are not the stodgy, heartless, self-entitled bureaucrats that certain hostile members of the public like to paint us as being, usually with a postal-destroying agenda in mind.

But then there is also usually a piece written by some poor misguided clown of a reporter either because he or she is completely ignorant of the United States Postal Service, or because the editorial policy of that paper is bought and paid for by right wing interests that want to see the post office dead and buried so they can gouge the public for the same service we provide at a very reasonable cost.

I came across one such link this morning to a Denver Post article entitled "US Postal Service needs a major fix."  It's by-line was simply "The Denver Post editorial staff," which instantly alerts you it is a piece of garbage ordered by the big shots upstairs that no one dares sign their name too.  Nobody on that paper wants to piss off their mailman, it seems.  The article was also filled with annoying flash movie advertisements that completely froze my computer for a good two minutes, but I guess that is to be expected.  Like all of us struggling journalistic enterprises, the Denver Post has to get its money from wherever it can, especially when they keep spitting out crappy articles like this.

These pieces always start off with some warm and fuzzy fluff notes about how the Postal Service has been braving the weather and neighborhood dogs for years, blah blah blah, just to show people how they really love the post office and are only putting this information out there for the good of the American public; out of completely altruistic motives god bless 'em.  This pro-postal cheerleading is designed to get us to drop our guard.  But it doesn't take long for Mr. "Editorial Staff" to bare its ugly teeth and unveil its real agenda.

By paragraph 3 the article is hinting ominously to its readership that a taxpayer bailout will soon be necessary if something is not done.  At least it acknowledges that Congressional interference has brought the organization to the brink of insolvency, I must admit, but then it slips in a very sly, underhanded sentence about our "outdated business model" that really amps up my blood pressure.

What exactly does "outdated business model" mean?  What are we doing besides delivering American's mail and packages that is so outdated?  This is very sneaky, insidious language that if you read through the lines is actually saying "the postal service is truly outmoded and anachronistic, but I guess we have to keep it around awhile because everybody still loves to see the happy, whistling mailman walking down the street in sunshine, rain and snow even if he is not doing anything important."

Toward the end of the article comes the real agenda, which of course is putting an end to Saturday delivery.  With the arrival of a Republican majority in Congress, the newspaper bosses pulling the strings of Mr. "Editorial Board" are trying to raise consciousness again for something that nobody wants except for postal competitors scheming to put us under. For this purpose, the article advises Congress to take another look at the "Carper-Coburn" bill.  It then adds that ending Saturday delivery has been a sticking point with lawmakers, after which it reminds us of another sticking point, which is, and I will quote directly, "...the thought that the USPS might shut down some lightly-patronized post offices.  Heaven forbid!"

This was the comment that really rankled me.  Here we see the brute exposed for the ugly, snarling beast that it really is; its anti-postal fangs completely exposed and dripping hungrily.  Lightly-patronized post offices?  Are you kidding Mr. Editorial Board?  We had one such "lightly-patronized" post office closed here that was right in the heart of San Diego and always had lines backed out the door.  But because it was in a poorer neighborhood it apparently didn't have the political muscle behind it to stay open, which I think is the true deciding factor of whether a post office stays or goes.  How wealthy are the patrons, and how many friends do they have in Congress?  The quantity of customers has little, if anything, to do with it.

The article closes by saying that Congress needs to give the Postal Service a fighting chance to deliver for years to come.  How sweet.  First they say we have an "outdated business model," but then they claim that Congress should continue to support an organization that is completely antiquated.  These contradictory statements don't make any sense, and I think show you more than anything with the whom the true sympathies of "Mr. Editorial Board" lie.

Stories like this are infinitely more creepy and dangerous than those that just straight up attack the post office.  They are like a virus whose toxic feelers wriggle their way into the public mind through innocent, unexpected means, then grow slowly in until they reach fatal levels.

The point I am trying to make in exposing this article for what it really is, I think, is that we have to be on the lookout for wolves wearing sheep's clothing, both for the protection of our jobs and for the protection of the American public we serve.

How does an "Editorial Board" write an article, by the way?  They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee.  This particular monstrosity is something similar, I think.

The offending article in question can be consulted at:

The photo above, which has absolutely nothing to do with anything but I thought was kind of funny and sweet, is from my personal collection.

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Size 15 Postal Stumbling Block(s)

By Mel Carriere

If this picture of the Christmas yard decoration you see above hadn't been taken in 2010, I would swear that they used me for source material.  On Monday I took another tumble for the team and it looked an awful lot like this.  Regardless of where these Yuletide Yard Art Comedians drew their artistic inspiration, mine was just another in a long series of postal pratfalls I have taken since starting this job 21 years ago tomorrow, and the blame rests squarely on my own two feet.

The problem is that my feet are size 15 - both of them thank goodness, and when your job is walking all day having size 15 feet is like driving a high clearance vehicle, except in reverse.  Sooner or later you are not going to calculate correctly and the gargantuan gun boats you drag around are going to scrape against something, sort of like the Titanic hitting an iceberg.  The result most of the time is a brief stumble that I can recover from and retain my balance, but every once in a while this cat doesn't land on his feet.  The older I get, the more frightening this becomes.

On Monday I was delivering a package to a doorstep when my feet radar missed a small step on a concrete walkway that was sort of covered over with grass.  I think the miscalculation was made because the part of my brain that is the foot computer is still programmed for size 13.  When I started this job I was "only" size 13.  Postal tootsies tend to expand with use.  21 years have passed and the brain circuitry still hasn't been rewired.  The guidance control system is just not taking into account the extra two sizes.  I would call the VMF but they would just screw it up worse and say they fixed it.

Fortunately I fell forward onto soft grass, but I think my left tit crashed directly on my cell phone.  The cell phone is just fine.  I, on the other hand, have been experiencing significant pain in the rib cage area, but so far have not bothered to go to the doctor.  Every time I break something in the line of duty the doctors just tell me to walk it off big boy, there's nothing we can do.  In 2002 I suffered a hairline crack on the pelvis after I slipped on a speed bump and fell directly on my rump.  The doctor literally told me to walk it off because he said exercise would help the blood flow.  He sent me home with some pain pills.

For this reason I haven't gone to the doctor yet.  What's the point, if they aren't going to do anything?  I have plenty Ibuprofen 800 already that I can use to self medicate.  Of course, with my luck, this might be the one type of injury where they actually have to immobilize and hospitalize you, or you risk imminent death.  I think I'll just wash that Motrin down with another beer and see how I feel tomorrow.

Here are some more noteworthy stumbles I have suffered in my 21 years:

Last year, during one of our rare San Diego rainstorms, I slipped and fell twice in the same day.  The second fall took place barely an hour after the first.  My butt broke the scanner, which was in my back pocket, but I kept going.

In 2012 my head crashed against a low hanging branch.  I can't blame my faulty feet for that one.  I fell backwards into some wonderfully soft grass; which makes me grateful that at least the postal gods always seem to give me a soft landing.  It was a sunny day, and I remember looking up at the serene blue sky and thinking how nice it would be to go to sleep there.  Luckily a lady driving by witnessed the scene and screamed out if I was okay.  If it wasn't for her I might have passed out.  As it was I got up and kept going.

It just occurred to me that one of these days I am not going to be able to get up and keep going.

The funny thing is that my 74 year old mother recently took a tumble and was in rehab for a broken leg, and just a couple of days before my fall I was joking with her on the phone about how many times I have fallen in the line of duty and come away mostly unscathed.  This was the wrong thing to joke about.  Do not put the postal gods to the test, or you may find yourself in rehab alongside your mother, being forced to watch Oprah and reruns of Murder She Wrote all day.

I hope all of you have conquered your postal stumbling blocks, and are forever lithe and nimble on your own, hopefully superbly guided feet.  I invite you to leave a comment to share your personal postal missteps, and to subscribe to the Tsunami via the links to the right if the spirit or your gorgeous, graceful, ballet dancing feet move you to do so.  Thanks for reading!

Photo by retired letter carrier Bill Schindler, taken from

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Means Mail Magic

By Mel Carriere

I shouldn't be blogging on Christmas for goodness sake but I am sitting here with nothing to do on a Christmas afternoon as I anxiously await the inevitable lump of coal in my stocking.  My oldest son had to go to work and doesn't get off until later this afternoon, and because my darling wife was up until 5 AM watching movies she is still asleep, dreaming the visions of sugarplums that she will find in her own stocking...whatever a sugarplum is.  A sugarplum sounds like it could lead to some serious continence issues for us 50 and older types.

I was going to write this post earlier in the week but I got overwhelmed by a rush of last minute Christmas preparations.  Part of this included standing in line at the local post office along with everyone else.  The postal facility where I work is only a carrier annex, not a retail facility, so there is no mailing of packages there and no special head of the line postman perks for me.

As I was standing in line at my local PO I was having my own magical sugarplum visions without any sort of chemically induced help, if that is what your naughty not nice mind is thinking.  These led me to a sort of pleasant, peaceful Christmas epiphany.  I started off my wait time in line with the Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer tune buzzing through my head, since I had just seen the CBS commercial announcing that Rudolf is now 50 years old, at least in his television animated cartoon form. I couldn't help but think that Rudolf is now so old I he won't be joining in any reindeer games anymore, even if the other reindeer let him and he really felt like dragging his arthritic reindeer bones out of bed to do it.

These were very cynical ideas to be having around Christmastime, but luckily this rather sinister line of philosophical speculation was saved by the appearance of two children who had been dispatched by Mom to drop off a handful of Christmas cards in the outgoing letter slot.  The oldest child was a boy, and he was patiently monitoring the mail handling activities of his little sis to make sure that she did it properly.

The poor little girl could not quite reach the letter slot, but she was determined to try.  "Here, let me help you," her brother said patiently, but she would have nothing to do with his interference.

"I want to do it!" she protested.  She was determined to get those cards through that tiny aperture one way or the other.

The little girl struggled, strained, and stretched.  I don't know how she did it, but there was some kind of Christmas magic brewing in the post office that levitated her just enough so that her tiny fingers could get those Christmas cards just through the mail slot, where they dropped down with a satisfying plunk.

This was truly a miracle as far as I was concerned, but full-blown postal miracles are normal this time of year.

The little girl backed away from the mail slot and looked upon it in complete awe, not exactly certain what she had just participated in.  She wasn't quite sure how those Christmas cards were going to get to their destinations on time but she knew, as even we jaded, cynical adults still realize, that there was going to be some heavy duty Christmas magic involved.

Yesterday I was listening to the radio on my way to work, where they were reporting on the movements of Santa Claus as he was being tracked by NORAD on radar.  This report made me think that the Santa Claus theory of package delivery is probably a more plausible explanation than the postal hypothesis.  It is practically unbelievable how we, the men and women of the United States Postal Service, manage to move 4 billion parcels annually and get them there on time.  It requires nothing short of a miracle on every level to receive, sort, distribute and deliver these packages on time, frequently ahead of time.

The package I mailed that Friday was delivered to my Father in Arizona on Sunday.  Like that little girl, I was absolutely amazed.  I didn't even send it Priority Mail, because I am cheap.  I sent it First Class and it still made it with plenty of time to spare.  

Eat your heart out, Santa Claus.  Christmas means mail magic, pure and simple.  Any innocent child dropping cards in a postal collection box knows this.

Thank you, unknown little girl in the post office, for renewing my faith in the organization I work for.  You showed me that you believe in Christmas mail magic, and now I realize that I still do too.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, what's left of it, and a Happy New Year.  Thanks for support throughout the year, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in 2015.

image from:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What not to Say to your Mailman on a Friday - "Have a Nice Weekend"

Are your Postal Customers dogging you out with cruel taunts about the weekend? - Photo from my phone.

By Mel Carriere,

If you are an uninspiring aspiring writer like me, don't ever blog on your phone.  I was trying to blog on the Blogspot app yesterday and had punched out about three excruciating paragraphs on that tiny keyboard that is definitely not friendly to my big fat fingers when I got a call from my wife.  She was calling to tell me to hurry up and get my butt home because she had plans for me that involved laundry and perhaps waterboarding afterwards.  Waterboarding is not a fun, stimulating romantic game that my wife and I play, in case you are wondering.  If you don't know what waterboarding is I will refer you to the declassified CIA documents on the torture of Guantanamo detainees that were recently released, and that's all I will say about the subject.

Anyhow, when I hung up the phone my blog was gone.  It disappeared completely into the blogosphere, the individual words floating away like spores on the wind shot out by some distasteful, unsightly fungal body.  That's okay, it was all crap anyway, because I had been up very late the night before binge watching Orange is the New Black and I was very tired.  So I'll just start over.  

The topic I was trying to write about before my phone got hungry and ate it is an expression that many postal customers like to say on a Friday, which is "Have a Good Weekend."  This seems like an innocent and friendly enough thing to say, and even though most of the time it is spoken in well-meaning ignorance, every once in a while it is uttered out of pure smug spitefulness.  Whatever the case, it is the wrong thing to say to your mailman on a Friday.

Let's start out with the well-meaning ignorance category.  Although it would seem that people who never see the mailman would make the mistake of thinking we have the weekend off the same as most normal people do, I have discovered that the customers who use this phrase are most likely to be those who see us slinging the satchel down the block four or five times a week, and are usually waiting in front of their houses for the mail.  In light of these circumstances it would seem like they have no legitimate excuse for thinking that we have the weekend off, because they were probably out there last Friday when we handed them the mail and it is quite possible they greeted us with the same words on that occasion.

Therefore, there are only one or two conclusions that can be inferred from this.  The first one is that they have the memory of that bloated, belly up goldfish you have been feeding every five minutes just because you are bored and want to see what will happen, and maybe are tired of cleaning out the stinky tank too.

I think that this is a very cruel, unflattering conclusion to draw and so I will suggest a different explanation. This is that these customers are so psychologically befuddled after being retired so long that they now mistake news reports for their own thought processes.

A couple of years ago our beloved outgoing Postmaster General Pat Donahoe released a statement that the Postal Service was going to cut Saturday Delivery.  He made this pronouncement like it was a done deal, and certain members of the Postal Public still have these words stuck in their heads and are unable to shake them out no matter how vehemently we explain to them that they are not true.  I have given up trying to explain.  As with the case of that belly up goldfish, I treat every feeding like it was the first one.  I just smile, hand over the mail, and move on.  I am the postal equivalent of that evil food shaker of the goldfish tank.

Sometimes when you deliver mail to these people on a Saturday they look at you suspiciously, as if you are some malicious mailman-impersonating impostor.  I have even had them rush back into the house to check the dosage levels of their medication, just in case they might be seeing things.

The second category of Postal Customers who unwisely say "Have a Nice Weekend" to their letter carriers are people who are just mean and cruel and hate the mailman.  Of course they know we work Saturdays, but maybe they are angry because you never deliver that million dollar lottery check they claim to be entitled to, even though they never play the lottery and have only imagined that they won, or maybe hallucinated because of unwise choices in their own methods of self-medication.  Or maybe they have it in for you because you had the bad manners to write up that dog that was chewing a hole in your sock last July.  Even after that series of painful abdominal rabies shots you were forced to undergo following that encounter with their wonderfully fuzzy, foaming at the mouth Fluffy they still insist that you were exaggerating.

Whatever the case, these folks always say "Have a Nice Weekend" with a cruel sideways sneer, especially during the holidays when they know you might even be coming in on Sunday to deliver parcels.

Meanwhile, I sit here in a state of smugness about the weekend myself, being fortunate to work in one of those areas where letter carriers have rotating days off, which means I am enjoying my own three day weekend.  But I definitely have those of you who are slaving away on a Saturday in my thoughts, and I sincerely urge you to be cautious and prudent so that you do not go "belly-up" under that binge feeding of parcels that the Postal Service is giving you.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas for 2014 and I thank you sincerely for reading my irreverent and sometimes inappropriate rants.

I invite you to follow my blog via email or Google using the links on the right, where you can also visit my articles on Hub Pages too.  Please leave a comment if the spirit moves you. Thanks again!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

UPS Plays the Cute Kid Card - Is Big Brown Desperate?

By Mel Carriere

Is it safe to assume that you have all seen the UPS ad by now featuring the adorable 4 year old Carson Kight of Colorado Springs, Colorado?  If not, the long and short of the ad is that this tyke idolizes the UPS delivery driver who brought him life saving baby formula as an infant and then further stirred his passion for all things brown by letting him hop aboard the delivery truck.  Later on, in an act staged for maximum heart warming marketing appeal, the driver reappeared and broought Carson his own delivery uniform and a miniature UPS delivery truck to wheel up and down the neighborhood and annoy the neighbors with.  Touching, tear jerking stuff.

If you haven't seen the video I am not going to aid and abet the enemy by putting a link to it here.  You all have crazy mad Google skills; evidenced by the fact that you were able to find this remote, uncharted, dusty little corner of cyberspace that is my blog, so if you really want to see the commercial it should be easy enough to find.

The way they are dragging this poor kid around on a massive publicity tour, it seems to me that the public image of United Parcel Service has fallen so badly since their holiday Amazon debacle of 2013 that the company is trying to worm its way into a domain traditionally reserved for the United States Postal Service.  That's right - add an 'S' in between the 'U' and the 'P' and you know who really is the best friend of America's children.

I have nothing against this Carson Kight kid; he of the mini driver's suit and stripped down Barbie mobile repainted brown.  It wasn't his fault he became so intimately acquainted with his UPS driver.  If his parents would have been wiser and thriftier they could have probably cut their delivery expenses significantly by choosing the Post Office, and then the letter carrier would have been Carson's hero, just like he or she is for very other American kid.  It was no doing of Carson that he was cursed with parents who aren't too...I'll just leave it at that.  It's important to Carson's upbringing that he maintain the illusion his parents are doing the best they can for him, and I suppose part and parcel of this illusion is the illusion that UPS is the best choice for delivering his parcels.

I don't know where the expression part and parcel came from, but it certainly seems appropriate here.  Meanwhile, in spite of this brazen attempt to encroach upon their monopoly, kids still prefer the mailman by an overwhelming, I would even say mind boggling majority.  The truth is, how many kids even know their UPS driver's name?  Big Brown swings around once every blue moon at most to drop off the odd package that they didn't leave on the back dock of the local post office.  The letter carrier, on the other hand, is there every single day, even Sunday.  America's children watch in awe as letters and packages magically materialize from the back of the postal vehicle and end up on their doorsteps.  The letter carrier is an object of love and even reverence by kids everywhere.  Most of the time even their dog loves the mailman, and this is the same mutt that left nasty teeth marks just below the hem line of the UPS guy's ugly brown shorts six months ago, when he last came around.

So just go ahead Carson and deliver those packages of cookies and muffins to your neighbors in your little brown truck.  This is just one more example of how United Parcel Service continues to sub-contract its services to other delivery operations while still gouging its customers with premium prices.

Image from:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"You're Late" - What not to Say to your Mailman on a Monday

By Mel Carriere

It is that time of year, boys and girls, when we find ourselves racing against the sun in the sky, begging for just a few more minutes. Please Mr. Sun just slow down a little and give me a couple more precious minutes, we pray as we scramble to get our Postal LLV slash Santa sleigh safely back to the station before that dreaded postal witching hour by when all little postal elves should be accounted for.  Although we are fully prepared for and highly skilled at delivering in the dark when the situation calls for it, outside of a couple hard core lifer ODL psychopaths out there I don't know of anyone who likes to deliver in the dark and wouldn't avoid it when possible.  Dark delivery produces a hollow, lonely, isolated feeling that humankind has deserted the streets, katy-barred the doors, and left you to the mercy of whatever howling wolves are out there trying to snatch up vulnerable, incautious stragglers.

There are always those postal customers whose lives seem to revolve around waiting by the mailbox, a uniquely American pastime that is played out in the brightest, cheeriest sunshine or the deepest gloom of night.  These people subject themselves to this tedious ordeal either because they have nothing better to do, or have better things to do but choose to postpone them for the pleasure of adding to the list of miseries encountered during the letter carrier's already dreary day.  Some folks literally pitch a tent by the mailbox, where they keep the Postmaster General and 113th Congress on speed dial and wait for the letter carrier to stumble along so that they can say something of completely calculated rudeness or at least of ignorant inappropriateness.  I have seen them perched there in keen hawk-like vigilance as I make my way up and down the block; eyes focused to laser precision on the back of my neck boring painful holes.

So there you are, the American letter carrier, watching anxiously as the mailman-friendly sun bids adieu and that sinister, cheerless anti-mailman Moon rises up to take its place. The glum lunar orb scowls down upon you with complete disapproval, adding to the other objecting eyes on the block that peep out menacingly through the slits of window shades.  You can literally feel the collective discontent weighing down your satchel and making your steps even heavier as you move briskly through the darkness, doing your best not to trip over some unseen obstacle that will add you to that list of dearly departed brothers and sisters on the back of the monthly branch newsletter.

And then it happens.  Just as your hand enters the sacred holy of holies of the American mailbox you hear the dreaded words.  "You're late," some faceless shadow in the dark says.

Your head spins in horror.  In the glare of your headlamp you see nothing but dripping, venomous fangs.  You stutter, mumble and stammer as you dig deeply for something clever to come back with, then finally abandon the effort and race away in the darkness.  Coming from the place where the hulking shadow enshrouds the mailbox you think you hear sinister laughter and you double you step.

To these nocturnal letter carrier ambushers the definition of "late" has absolutely no bearing to what is taking place on the face of a clock.  These people exist in a primitive, pagan, pre-technology state that is attuned to the natural rhythms of the earth and the rising and setting of the sun.  Therefore, no matter how loudly you protest, 5 PM on November 1st is not the same as 5 PM on November 2nd.  When you put the letters in their box November 1st at 5:15 PM with the sun still blazing high in the sky you are within the limits accepted by their solar god, but for the sun worshipers 5:15 PM on November 2nd is unpardonable heresy. 

Beware the insidious approach of nightfall, my friends in blue.  Watch your step and watch your mouths.  Those customers that lie in pouncing position by the mailbox sadistically favor Monday over all the other days of the week because they know you will be in your most worried and demoralized state; one that will most likely provoke a reaction that merits a call to your supervisor.  Somehow these folks always have the station hotline number and they are not hesitant to use it.   Let the sunshine on your face chase away these dreary goblins of the night and don't look back!  Keep those postal issued shoes pointed ever homeward and together Santa's little helpers will start all over again on Tuesday.

Image from:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Glad I Have a Job that lets me Get Sick - Thoughts on Postal Convalescense

By Mel Carriere

I am certainly not advocating for anyone to milk or abuse the system.  We don't want to be the ones to kill the Postal goose that laid these golden eggs - the politicians are doing a good enough job trying to carry out that loathsome task. But don't you think it is good and right and nice to have the peace of mind of knowing that when we are legitimately sick we have the liberty to take a few days off to heal up without worrying if we are going to be out in the street looking for a new job when we get better?

This is a right that was fought long and hard for by thousands of gutsy men and women who paved the way for us and are unfortunately fading from memory.  There were those decades ago who were willing to put their jobs in jeopardy and even risk their lives to the clubs of strikebreaking thugs.  If any one of you think that these rights we all enjoy, such as the right to convalesce after an illness or injury, could have been gained without the strength of collective bargaining, meaning Unions, then I nominate you for dupe of the day and I will gladly replace the picture of my own sorry, swollen, sad sack face up there with a picture of your own.

While most of you were out there today slogging through the rain and the snow, I was sitting at home licking my wounds, trying to get by on a miserable diet of Jello and applesauce.  Yesterday I went through oral surgery to have a late blooming wisdom tooth removed that was possibly infected and causing me a lot of pain.  Since this is the era of the selfie, I felt it my sacred duty as a reporter of all things postal to snap a photo of myself through my anesthesia induced grogginess as I waited in the van for my wife to go to the pharmacy for my pain killers.  I was rather proud of my ability to maintain the presence of mind to switch the phone camera to selfie mode and then post a few words on Facebook through the blurriness before I passed out again.

Allow my selfie to serve as the rallying banner for why we need Unions.  It won't be the prettiest flag by any stretch, but it will get the point across.  There is a trend today to denounce Unions in general, and public employee unions in particular, as the cause of everything that ills the American economy.  But if anyone thinks the working class rose from the tenement slums of the turn of the century to the decent, happy, prosperous middle class standard of living we enjoy today because of the innate goodness of the hearts of billionaires then once again email your own drugged, hypnotized selfie to and I will post it on my bulletin board of the duped and the deluded.

And yet an apparent majority of Americans who have been hypnotized by glamour and gadgets (like my selfie-taking cell phone), have willingly and gladly allowed the chest-thumping, corporation bought and paid for, shamelessly obese, cigar-smoking, viagra-taking bags of wind like Rush Limbaugh to smoothly convince them that all Unions are evil, and public employee unions are especially evil.  Greedy unions are blamed for driving up the prices on essential goods and services.  Meanwhile, Corporate America and the public at large forgets that if not for unions everyone would be taking home slave wages and there would be no disposable income to pay for any goods and services outside of life's barest necessities.

Furthermore, the public employee unions that are the perceived source of budget deficits and bankrupt municipalities are really the only functioning unions out there anymore, and therefore the only force raising the income bar.  I agree that some public employee Unions could have been more prudent during the economic boom days, at least as far as pensions are concerned, but a rising middle class economic tide created by Unions ultimately lifts all boats, including those of the wealthy manufacturers and retailers who stand to gain by people having more money in their pockets. 

So until I'm well enough to get back on my feet again I'll do my small part by taking shots at the big wigs who would reduce us to sweatshops and wage slavery again.  I thank God for my Union that has won me the right to take a couple days off when needed, but those of us who enjoy these rights shouldn't bask in the comfort of our own benefits.  We should be out there on every street corner fighting for the rights of those who don't, carrying signs at Wal-Mart employee rallies and reminding rich people everywhere that the workforce is the raw material most responsible for their wealth - and we should be compensated accordingly.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dog Days (And Nights) of Mail Delivery

By Mel Carriere

"I didn't even know there was a dog there," the regular on the route said to me after I brought back the mail for a house where I had almost been munched by an invisible pit bull one night last week, or the week before.  It's all a blur.

I get tired hearing postal truisms all the time.  At stand-up talks letter carriers are bombarded with truisms.  Your satchel can save your life against a dog.  Don't leave the engine running when you get out the vehicle.  Wear your seat belt.  I've been bombarded by the same truisms for the last twenty years, to the point of weariness.  The most annoying and tedious thing about postal truisms is that most of the time they turn out to be true, and there is a reason why they have to be repeated over and over again.

Case in point is delivery in the dark.  How may times have we been preached to on the workroom floor that we have to be especially careful making delivering on Saturdays and at other times, like at night, when most customers are home, assume that we have already been there, and relax their guard.  By relax their guard, I really mean that they let Fido out in the yard.  Sometimes Fido turns out to be a mailman muncher, and sometimes Fido turns out to be an invisible mailman muncher.

The reason why this particular dog incident happened to me was because they I was sent back out to help on another route where a letter carrier was bitten by a Chihuahua.  The letter carrier who was bitten weighs about 300 pounds and stands approximately 6 foot 4.  He is a big dude.  The little Chihuahua took him out.  The tiny, fuzzy mongrel took him out because he turned his back on it.  There's another postal truism for those of you who are keeping track.  Never turn your back on a dog, not even a Chihuahua.

They sent me in for reinforcements, and I arrived on the scene probably around 5:30 or so.  It must have been at least 5:30 because it was already completely dark.

I am pretty good at delivering at night now, because I have learned how to do it right.  I don't try to finger mail in between houses anymore.  In fact, I shut off my head lamp in between houses because the glare from the lamp blinds me.  I keep the light off until I get to the next house, then I turn on the lamp, finger the letters, and put the mail in the box.  After this I scoot to the next delivery.

Even though I am fairly proficient at delivering in the dark that doesn't mean that it is either safe or good for me or anybody.  There are a multitude of horrors lurking out there in the dark that can take a mailman down.  For one thing, sidewalks are uneven.  If you walk with a Charlie Chaplin shuffle step in the daytime you are liable to trip if you attempt this in the dark.  All fascist politics aside it's better to goose step, or at least do a happy medium between Chaplin and Hitler.  Come to think of it they kind of look alike.  Coincidence?

Anyway, some of the horrors of the dark have teeth.  I was reminded of this as I was preparing to deliver to a house and a pair of glowing eyes popped out to get me.

Thank you Jesus for the tapetum lucidum.  That was my Thanksgiving prayer this year.  The Tapetum Lucidum is the reflective surface in the eye that many nocturnal animals have which makes them glow in the dark. Yes, dogs and cats are nocturnal animals by nature.  We humans have cruelly and capriciously forced these animals to be non nocturnal so they can attend to our needs.  So next time Fido wants to sleep all day cut him a break.  He's not being lazy, you have selfishly altered his nature.  This could be why he's pissed at everyone, mailmen in particular.

To make a long story short, if not for the Tapetum Lucidum I would have been most certainly been munched by the black pit pull that came after me.  I only saw the dog's glowing eyes and because of this I got ready for battle.  Seeing me prepared for battle the dog chickened out, unlike that Chihuahua, and our post office avoided the indignity of having two mailmen getting munched on the same route the same day.  The owner called him off, and the worst thing that happened was my glasses fell in the gutter.  That was kind of humiliating, but not fatal.

In spite of this one close call I can't really complain about delivering in the dark because our District has been really stressing getting carriers back in the office by 5 PM.  The District has hired a lot of new CCAs for the Christmas season and these CCAs have been picking up the slack and getting most carriers off the street before Cinderella's LLV turns into a pumpkin.  I don't know if this is the case in other Districts, especially snowy districts where CCAs go home frozen solid their first day on the job and cannot be thawed out enough to deliver mail again. 

These are my Friday thoughts on dark delivery.  I would love to hear your thoughts too, so kindly leave me a comment. 

The above demonstration of the Tapetum lucidum was taken from:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do Postal Mother Hens Plague your Office? - Welcome to the Postal Tsunami

By Mel Carriere

All right, here we go again.  Welcome to another attempt by Mel Carriere to launch a blog, hopefully to success this time, using the Google Blogger format.  This new effort, entitled The Postal Tsunami by Mel Carriere, will more or less be a diary of one Mailman's life with some extras thrown in, such as samples of my upcoming ebooks and some postal politics as well when I have something new and relevant to say about such events.  I appreciate your support and hope to make this a rewarding experience for both of us.

Do Postal Mother Hens Plague Your Office?

Is it safe to say that every Post Office has what I sometimes affectionately, sometimes derisively refer to as a Mother Hen, that often overbearing feathered creature who wants to be in charge of everyone but is smart enough not to go into supervision?  Postal Mother Hen probably has finished raising her chicks at home but still is driven by the overwhelming maternal force, which she takes out upon her coworkers.  Sometimes she has genuinely benevolent motivations to make sure everyone is kept safe and properly cared for within the friendly confines of the postal chicken coop, but at other times the true design behind her parental nature seem to be a bit insidious, self-centered, and downright fowl, if you catch my meaning.

My office has one such Mother Hen, who is aggravating to no end.  Her shrill, eardrum shattering voice blasts the workroom floor as she barks out orders that would seem to be more appropriate coming from the business casual worn by a manager or supervisor, not the postal blue sported by a letter carrier.  She yells at us to check our hot cases and to wheel our parcel hampers back into the correct spot.  All this is fine and good, but at times her loudmouth, clucking directives go beyond what I think is appropriate for a craft employee.

Yesterday she called out a CCA for wearing his satchel while casing mail.  I have no idea why this young man had his mailbag slung over his shoulder, perhaps he fears the rats that are rumored to be lurking in the facility and wishes to have it there for protection in the event a rodent lunges at him like a growling dog. Perhaps someone should have called this inappropriate activity to his attention, because it is most definitely slowing him down in the office and sooner or later a supervisor is probably going to go over and either order him to take the satchel off or, even worse, write him up for it.

But I don't think that Mother Hen had the young man's best interests in mind.  If she had, she would have gone over to the CCA and told him quietly to take the satchel off.  Instead, Mother Hen made sure everybody else knew about it and yelled at him at the top of her lungs.  Naturally everybody did a double take, not so much to laugh at the CCA but to see what was the source of that high decibel shriek that was making everybody's eardrums bleed.

Mother Hen has also taken it upon herself this year to organize the vacation picks in our office for city carriers.  I had always thought that this activity was management's domain.  It has become annoying since she took over because she calls and texts me at home to badger me for my pick, and she calls and texts me when I am delivering mail out on the street too.  I have never heard of a craft employee doing vacation picks like this, and I wonder again if it is appropriate. After the first round was finished some carriers were wondering too, as they looked at the pick list and wondered why certain weeks that are not normally scratched off the board so early were suddenly blocked out.  It raised some eyebrows in the office, and makes me wonder again what is the reality behind Mother Hen's superficially benevolent intentions.

How about you?  Does your office have an overbearing Mother Hen type, either good or bad?  I invite you to leave a comment if you can.

The Postal Gods were with me this Week

Sometimes I wonder if there are benevolent postal deities that look after letter carriers, and if this offends the hard-lined monotheists out there I'll just call them Postal Guardian Angels.

The reason I bring this up is because something happened to my postal issue floppy hat this week that sort of makes me want to believe in karma.   A few days ago, as I was taking my hat off to scratch my head I noticed an unsightly splotch across the top, and immediately I wondered how long I had been walking around with it.  I wasn't quite sure if the splotch was bird poop or maybe the yogurt I sometimes eat for lunch.  There weren't any obvious chunks of a biological nature within it so I was leaning toward the yogurt theory, but deciding to play it safe I elected not to wear the floppy hat again until I can give it a thorough washing. Instead I donned the pith helmet that I normally reserve for the rain, an event that doesn't happen often here in Southern California!

Then on Friday, the day after I started wearing the sturdy pith helmet, my skull crashed into the open back door of a minivan as I was looking down at the mail.  I hit the door HARD!  Had I been wearing the soft floppy hat I would have most certainly opened up a sizable gash there, and would probably be sporting a large lump in my head right now.

As it was the Postal Gods saved me from this calamity by making sure my floppy hat was unavailable by covering it with either bird poop or yogurt.  It's enough to make a believer out of even the most hard core atheist, I think.

Maybe considering how clumsy I am I should just stick to the pith helmet permanently.

Thank you for participating in this maiden voyage of the Postal Tsunami.  I hope you enjoyed it and that you bookmark the site to come back again!