By Mel Carriere
Sometimes it's a chore trying to think of meaningful topics to write about here. Since the overwhelming response to my last post on the Scanner Selfies, I have been banging my head against the Post Office wall, trying to think up a good idea for a fitting, meaningful encore, something that will stir the soul the same way the idea of getting spied on by your voyeuristic supervisors does. Alas, I haven't had much luck. Today's topic was supposed to be entitled "Percent to Standard Rants for a Rainy Day," but it didn't rain after all, leaving we San Diego letter carriers as dry and crusty as ever, and my topic crawled off to the same place bogus weather forecasts go to die.
The one thing we can count on our Postal Supervisors for, however, is to provide us with interesting examples of human beings behaving badly. If you sit there hunkered down behind your blind and observe quietly without trying to get involved in the experiment; kind of like Jane Goodall watching chimps in a Uganda game reserve, it won't be long before they do some kind of neat trick that you can share with your family and friends. Supervisors haven't mastered the technology of digging tasty termites out of a hole using a twig like chimpanzees have, but there are other peculiar and notable; albeit laughably predictable things that they do when they think nobody is looking.
This brings me to the observation that lately we have been having a lot of safety stand up talks in our station. San Diego is number three in dog bites in the nation - I don't know what happened, we used to be number one, but just like our sports teams we can never bring home the top trophy. It's not for want of trying, I'm sure, but all the same our dog bite status has been getting us a lot of attention. Two or three times a week we get assailed with those same old dog safety mantras; take your satchel when you go to a door, keep your foot on the door when there is a dog behind it, don't turn your back on a dog, rattle the fence before you go into the yard, etc. etc. I'm sure even if your place hasn't cracked the top ten in dog bites, like San Diego can proudly proclaim, you are still hearing these same tired dog safety tips, to the point where they drone maddeningly in your ears, like the buzzing of flies.
But the single most repeated phrase they give us at these talks, to the point where it makes me wonder whether if it is a stand up talk or stand up comedy, is - "Let your supervisor know about a dog incident as soon as it occurs so we can immediately investigate."
This makes me chuckle because, in the first place, in my experience supervisors very rarely get off their thickly padded hindquarters to investigate dog incidents like they are supposed to do, and in the few cases that they do, probably because the Union jumped on their case, they screw it up and you wind up wishing they hadn't bothered.
A textbook example of this occurred today. I overheard the letter carrier at the case next to mine having a conversation with the supervisor about a dog incident that the supervisor had actually responded to, much to my surprise. The investigation did not go well, however, because the Sup swallowed the customer's story hook, line and sinker.
Are you old enough to remember those Pink Panther movies from the 70s, the ones starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau? If not there is a video clip down at the bottom of this post to show you the kind of humor that used to entertain us back during those olden days. We were easily amused back then.
Anyhow, in one of those movies Inspector Clouseau eyes this shaggy dog sitting in a hotel lobby, and asks the aged proprietor "Does you dog bite?"
The proprietor answers "No, my dog does not bite." Reassured, Inspector Clouseau kneels down to pet the dog, who immediately begins to chew off Clouseau's hand.
"I thought you said your dog does not bite," Clouseau protests painfully.
"That's not my dog," says the proprietor.
I know it's a pretty tired old gag, but it's appropriate because probably every letter carrier with at least five years in The Postal Service has heard something similar at least once. Sometimes the wording is a little different; a paraphrased version might be used instead that means exactly the same thing. For example - and stop me if you've heard this one before, I once was charged by a pit bull who luckily was not particularly hungry that day and veered off at the last second. When the customer came in to sign the dog letter he told the supervisor "I don't have a Pit Bull, I have a Chihuahua."
This is practically the same thing as saying "That's not my dog." Now, I don't claim to be an authority on dog breeds, I can't tell the difference between an Appenzeller Sennenhunde and a Bergamasco Shepherd, but I can distinguish between a Pit Bull and a Chihuahua. Therefore, I had to do a bit of SMH-ing as my supervisor was able to keep a straight face while telling my coworker today that she checked out the situation and knew for a fact that this particular customer did not have a dog.
My coworker got a little bit speechless, to say the least. Her face went a little white and a little blank as she contemplated the more than a little ridiculous audacity in the remark. When she finally rebounded, she explained to the Sup how she sees the dog every day, barking madly as it follows her, jumping up and down angrily so that she can see the top of its non-existent head over the top of the fence. Furthermore, she didn't just bid on the route yesterday, she has been battling with this non-dog for several years now.
But just like the elderly hotel clerk said to Inspector Clouseau, this customer told my "investigating" supervisor - "That's not my dog!"
I wish supervisors were always this easily duped. I wish I could fool them into thinking that I need three hours overtime on a lazy May Saturday when there is no mail, for instance. That is the subject of another blog post, I'm sure, but in the meantime I continue to marvel how Supervisors always pay lip service to safety, but when push comes to shove they are usually too lazy, or too scared, or maybe they want to believe the customer because they don't like the carrier. What do I know, but the point is, nothing gets done.
Watch the Pink Panther "Does your Dog Bite" Clip Below
The Postal Tsunami gains its coastal destroying power with copious amounts of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap. Unless they completely annoy or offend you, please see what my sponsors on this page have to say.
Image of dog and Clouseau's hand is taken from The Pink Panther Strikes Again