Monday, February 16, 2015
What Do You Do when Your Manager Drives Your Mail?
By Mel Carriere
Greetings from the land of the everlasting sunshine, where California is quickly drying up, withering away and blowing into the ocean. I'm not even going to try and pretend that I feel the pain of those of you trying to dig out from under seven feet of snow or more. Instead of shoveling ice off my driveway today I was trimming my palm trees in my shirt sleeves. So hurry up and move to California while you still can, before it blows off the map or gets pushed into the sea by that massive glacier forming in the Eastern part of the country.
Enough meteorological talk. Whether you deliver mail from beneath a blanket of snow or while dodging blowing tumbleweeds in a Santa Ana windstorm there are still many things we all have in common as Letter Carriers, and one of the most important of these is the quality of Management we have to deal with everyday. There are a-hole supervisors in Boston just like there are a-hole supervisors in Malibu. These people don't change with the weather, and that's mostly because they don't get out in it much. Maybe if they did they would understand your need to stop and thaw your frozen fingers between deliveries.
Here in San Diego the flavor of the month is to get back into the office by 5 PM. On Saturday afternoon I went back to the station to pick up a little overtime, and my supervisor told me that 5 PM was the absolute drop dead turn into a pumpkin time for returning from the street. "What if I can't make it, then what?" I asked him. "You have to make it," he said. I repeated "What if I can't?" "It's the District Policy now," he said, as if the District Policy was going to strap on a satchel and take some of the mail off my hands so I could get back in time.
In addition to the overtime that was already pushing me to the limits of the sacred, mystical 5 PM moment at which time I was going to turn into a pillar of salt, my supervisor asked me if I could take a relay all the way across to the opposite side of the Zip Code for another carrier who was in danger of being late. "If I do that I'm going to be past 5 for sure," I told him.
"That's okay, I'll take it to him," he answered without so much as batting an eye.
My supervisor thinks that because I used to do his job I am automatically sympathetic to his cause, but that is definitely not the case. I went into supervision for about a year and a half under the naive assumption that I might help change things for the better and that maybe I could infuse a little bit of intelligence into the job, not knowing at the time that wasn't a requirement. Maybe I had some sort of misguided sense of duty. Anyhow, I realized after a year and a half that I wasn't going to try and satisfy the deluded expectations of psychopaths anymore and that Postal Management had an incurable illness that can never be changed for the better by things like intelligence. That illness is the ostrich syndrome; a condition where one's head is shoved so deep down the DOIS hole that the real world can't be seen at all; only a false paper reality where someone's poorly calculated, dreamily quixotic numbers on a page become the truth because they have been declared to be so.
Anyhow, I guess my supervisor thought my deprogramming phase from the Postal Management Stockholm Syndrome was not complete, because he had just stood there and without stuttering even a little had told me that he was going to drive the mail.
"If you do that I'm going to have to tell," I answered.
I don't consider myself a stooge, or a rat fink, or a whistle-blower, or a bell-ringer, or a tattle-tell or a stool pigeon, or a snitch, or any of those other descriptive words that apply to people who run to the teacher when some sort of naughty has been committed. My motivation for challenging him on this is that there are so few crumbs in the overtime pie left that a man's got to protect his livelihood.
"Oh come on, don't be like that," the supervisor complained.
I explained that we're not living in the world where the ODL is being maxed out every day anymore. Now the CCAs in our station have taken nearly all of our overtime away (meaning no malice against my CCA brothers and sisters), local management also has this arbitrary 5 o'clock number they pulled out of a hat that we're up against, and I'm not going to let him take away overtime meant for the ODL just so he can meet that magically meaningless tape measure of his supervisorial skills. Of course I didn't say it using so many big words, being forced to talk down to his level, but I guess I got my point across.
To make a long story short I drove that relay to the street and the carrier came and found me.
To sum it all up, everybody made it back on time, so I guess this story had a "happy ever after." If you believe in Postal fairy tales, that is.
Picture of the shadowy mailman above is my "selfie."
The Postal Tsunami is actually a massive wave of Starbuck's black coffee, which is woefully expensive. I have no say in picking the ads here, but unless they completely annoy or offend you, please investigate what my sponsors in the right sidebar and down below have to say.