Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Postal Stockholm Syndrome Supervisors
By Mel Carriere
Being a Postal Supervisor involves undergoing a surprisingly quick brainwashing process in which everything you knew to be reality as a letter carrier is quickly forgotten about in the barrage of psychological warfare that assails you from above. The truth is, as a new 204b you feel so satisfied to have been chosen as one of the team that you are willing to accept and echo whatever BS comes down the pipeline just to fit in with the rest of the brainwashed crowd that it is your sad lot to work with now.
Religious cults are known to brainwash their new adherents by subjecting them to relentless "reprogramming" techniques, in which the same key phrases are repeated over and over again in loud, frightening tones to the weary, sleep-deprived initiates. The Postal Service is not much different. When I was supervising I was given a daily verbal beat down by the Area Manager, who had a long row of books in his office filled with his favorite management maxims that he would force feed us 204b underlings with. He called this "creative tension," one of the terms he pulled from the books, but I doubt he ever read these things thoroughly or even halfway understood the concepts in them. I think he would just pull random phrases from the pages that seemed to justify his psychotic tendencies.
As is the case with victims of the "Stockholm Syndrome," or capture bonding phenomenon, after a while the hostages (204bs in this case) will begin to feel positive feelings towards their captors; these being Area Managers, Postmasters, Station Managers, and other such Postal terrorists. The definition I found on Wikipedia describes the Postal situation perfectly by saying that this type of capture bonding describes "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other." I couldn't have said it better. After awhile you actually start to think that the Area Manager, the monster who calls you into the daily telecon to give you your daily thrashing, actually likes you just because he asks how your family is doing every now and then.
Once you quit supervising it takes a while to break loose from this brainwashing. It took me a couple of years to free my brain from the Stockholm Syndrome, and I might not be completely deprogrammed yet. A friend of mine, who is dying to be mentioned in this blog in either a good or bad way, once told me after I went back to carrying mail that I needed to quit thinking like a supervisor. He was right, although it took a while to realize it.
The reason I bring this up is that the other day, when I was doing some AMS activities in the office on the computer, one of my supervisors subjected me to a barrage of BS about how easy the routes in our station are and how when we get walked we'll all be shocked when we're back from the street by 2 PM. I know this 2 PM thing is the Area Manager's new mantra that he makes his supervisor cult chant over and over again every day, because another supervisor in my office said the exact same thing a couple of days ago - two o'clock on the dot. In a past life this supervisor used to be a letter carrier, so I suppose he thinks this qualifies him to pass judgement on all of the untold thousands of routes in the Postal Service. Anyway, he amused me by declaring which routes on my old T-6 string were long and which ones were not, even though he hasn't carried any of them, ever. In his informed opinion, naturally the routes of the carriers that suck up to him are the long ones and the carriers that give him a little resistance every day are the ones that will be back by 2 PM in his brainwashed, pipe dream, postal fantasy route inspection scenario.
I don't think he liked it when I disagreed with him. He probably thinks I'm still in the cult and I'm going to chant right along with him, right after I shave my head except for that little pony tail I'll leave in the back. But instead I responded that a lot of the routes in the office are actually overburdened. Furthermore, most of the carriers in our office are old pros at getting walked and I have never seen any of them return by 2 PM after a route inspection, even when mail volume was at its lowest.
So who really will be shocked when that fateful route inspection day rolls around? I would like to think that this supervisor, who thinks all letters carriers are cheaters, liars and malingerers, will be man enough to admit that he was wrong when he sees that most of us are running our butts off. But I really doubt he will be so gracious to acknowledge his mistake, because when postal brainwashing takes place it is rapid and thorough, and God help us all when this distorted Stockholm Syndrome view completely replaces reality.
Photo of this 775 tub art is my own, but I did not create this Picasso-like Postal painting, although I do agree with its philosophy.
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