By Mel Carriere
Honestly my New Year's Resolution was to treat my Postal Supervisors better here in my blog, not because I necessarily want to be nice to them or they deserve for me to be nice to them, but because I know the day of reckoning will eventually arrive when one of them will stumble upon one of my blogs and with probably a minimum of sleuth work be able to at least narrow down my location. When that happens it might be possible through a collective group effort to figure out my secret identity, and then I might have to answer some awkward questions. What has saved me up to the present is that I'm not sure if any of the supervisors at my station can read above the fourth grade level, so reading blogs is not really their thing. Playing Fart Cat on the cell phone is more their speed. Also, if one of them was to catch wind of me; hopefully the same wind being blown downstream from the Fart Cat - since they all hate each other and do not communicate I don't think I would be in any danger from their combined deductive reasoning figuring out who I really am.
Although I have vowed to be gentle sometimes I can't help but chime in on bad supervisor behavior, especially when their ridiculous chest thumping gets out of control and makes me mad.
In my station now we have one manager and two supervisors. The station manager just does not want to be there because it is somewhat of a demotion for her but she got stuck with the job because she's known as a tough get things done problem solver who gets sent in to crack the real hard cases. Since our station is one of San Diego's problem children she got saddled with improving our numbers, but she's been beating her head against a wall for months now and we are just got getting any better and I can tell she just wants out while she can still salvage her reputation. Every time I talk to her she has this distant, dazed look on her face. When you tell her about some issue she responds cordially enough and acts like she cares, but nothing registers and nothing gets done.
The first supervisor is the one I have called "Dangerously Ditzy" because she forgets everything, to the point that she sometimes becomes a health hazard. In the past she has forgotten about heat stricken employees lying comatose on a sidewalk who eventually had to be rescued by their co-workers. I'm not complaining, however, because sometimes this forgetfulness works to my advantage. If she comes after me about that ten clicks of overtime I didn't get authorized yesterday afternoon I can tell her I called and she probably just forgot because she was so busy. If I'm nice enough about it odds are she will believe me.
The next Supervisor is the one I call the Chest Thumper. This man is the stuff future Postmasters, District Managers and, God help us, Executive Vice Presidents are made of. He has absolutely no idea what he is doing, but he will sit in his chair making bold, bombastic proclamations for everyone to hear, thinking that he is being an intimidating tough guy even though he is obviously not one. One thing I have learned about success in Postal Management is that it doesn't matter what you really are, what matters is what the higher ups think you are. So if you make enough noise about busting heads and laying down the law and cracking skulls you will get noticed even if you don't have a clue about how to operate a postal facility.
Friday we had ten sick calls in our office, ten sick calls out of 25 routes. It actually didn't turn out as bad as I thought; luckily the mail was pretty light and they called in the CCA Cavalry from all points of the compass to save the day. But when I got back in the office that afternoon Chest Thumper was sitting at the Supervisor's desk, bragging to all the clerks present in very loud tones about he was going to do to keep it from happening again on Saturday.
In short, his strategy was to flag all the sick call employees in ERMS as "deems desirable" so if they try to call in again the next day they will be required by the automated ERMS system to bring medical documentation with them when they return. I'm not sure, but I think this practice is illegal. I may be mistaken, but I think that management can only require documentation after three consecutive days of calling in sick. At any rate, I don't think it is wise to make a lot of noise and thump your chest about it because in our station the walls have ears and things like this have a sneaky way of being reported to the Union.
I wasn't really trying to be a smart-ass, but when I heard Mr. Chest Thumper brag about flagging everybody "deems desirable" I told him I didn't think it would work because it's tough for people to go to the doctor on Saturday because most of the doctors are closed, and emergency room visits typically have a high co-pay that nobody wants to dish out. Therefore, if it was me I would probably just let it ride until Monday when I could go to my regular doctor for a note. By doing this, I told him, he was kind of risking getting some sick calls on Monday too.
A clerk in our office was giggling secretly at me when I was debating Chest Thumper on the issue. She probably thinks he's full of crap too. I was glad I had a receptive audience, because Chest Thumper could not be dissuaded, and he didn't seem to appreciate me being less than supportive of his plans.
"Well, they can go to Urgent Care," he grumbled.
Chest Thumpers always have the answers and the last word. I don't think they care about any potential grievances this sort of thing may bring about, because grievances are feathers in the Postal war bonnet for these people. Grievances are what makes them get noticed.
Despite Chest Thumper's ill conceived machinations Saturday turned out okay. One of our Friday sickees came in, cased his mail and went home again, which was a good end run around the "deems desirable" process, I suppose. There's no telling what he might have infected the station with, though. Monday should be an interesting day.
Photo of my "Made in the Shade" LLV is my own. It is a work of art, in case you had not noticed.
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