Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ask Not What Your Postal Supervisor Can Do for You, Ask What You Might as Well Do Yourself

By Mel Carriere

There are a couple important things we have been told throughout the years we are not supposed to ask, and other than that I guess everything else is fair game, something I tried as a child to explain to my father during long road trips slash interrogation sessions during which I refused to go to sleep like my sister.

JFK said don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.  I love Kennedy, but this seems like a politician's nice way of saying that your tax money is all spent so don't be expecting anything in the mail come refund season.

A little bit of a creepier thing, Ernest Hemingway tells us, is not to ask for whom the bell tolls.  Hemingway was actually plagiarizing a poet-philosopher named John Donne who wrote this line in the 17th century.  I don't live close to a Catholic Church, who are practically the only ones doing any bell tolling in these days of rock and roll mega churches, but I get the point.  They're saying don't ask whose funeral that is over there because you're next.

If you are a Postal Employee there is one other thing you are not supposed to ask, and that is what your supervisor can do for you.  The reason you are not supposed to ask this is because no matter how many times you ask he or she is not going to do it and you're just going to wind up doing it yourself.

Of course your supervisor expects you to jump through hoops for him or her, like Nathan the Bloodhound who won the National Dog Show in 2014.  Unlike the dog show participants, however, there won't be any happy tail wagging at the end because the dogs get rewarded with treats, and you just get rewarded with more work.

No matter how hard you attempt to take yourself to new extremes of hoop jumping for your supervisor, however, it seems like he or she is never around when there is something important you need one on your route to keep the customers happy and to keep the Postal Service operating efficiently.  Your supervisor will get back to you later because he has to sit in on a telecon; or he's got a customer waiting on line 1 that has suddenly become incredibly urgent,even though the customer line is generally harder to get through on than talking to a living, breathing bank employee; or he's got to run over and finish pretending to split the aux route.  "Don't worry, I'll take care of it!" he shouts as he turns away to take care of that critical matter that you, quite obviously, are not.  Five minutes later you can usually find him BS-ing in the parking lot with the custodian.

I've practically given up waiting for my supervisors to take care of anything.  Therefore, short of hacking into the Postal computer system or committing a felony, I'll limit myself to misdemeanors only and if there is any marginally conceivable way I can take care of postal business myself I am going to do it.  If I have to pick the lock on the supply room to get a satchel strap by golly I'm going to jimmy that door, or otherwise risk having to sling around 60 pounds of mail on my shoulder using a mail bag jury rigged with my postal-issue belt, a hand towel I liberated from the Days Inn I sometimes deliver to, and some duct tape.  Breaking the rules a little is better than painfully enduring that endless waiting period that only ends whenever my supervisor "gets around to it" or my shoulder gets yanked out of socket, whichever comes first.

A Postal Supervisor can't even get anything done when it is to his or her benefit only and you could really care less, but are only informing them out of professional courtesy.  For about a week recently I was missing an MSP sticker because some new boxes were installed, and every morning for several days I had to re-explain this to my supervisors, who were coming around and beating me up for missing the scan.  I actually had to explain it over and over again to several supervisors and the station manager as well, because of course these people all hate each other, are completely satisfied anytime there is a "fail" on the other guy's watch, and accordingly never communicate.  Finally, after about the third time justifying the missed scan to one of these rotating supervisors I finally got a new sticker, a response that is equivalent to hyperspace by postal supervisorial standards.

Note to supervisors:  Your dog may do tricks for you at home, but knowing the likes of you I'm sure he's not doing it out of love and expects to be generously rewarded.  Why can't you do the same for me?  I'm not talking about a scratching behind the ears either.  I saw you take that clipboard into the bathroom when you were hiding from me a few minutes ago and I would prefer a "no hands" policy, please.  All I'm saying is that when you're asking me what I can do to make your job easier, every once in a while you might reciprocate and ask what you can do for me.  Oh - and then really do it.

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