Thursday, July 30, 2015

Things Not to Say (Or Do) to Your Letter Carrier on Their Lunchbreak




By Mel Carriere


On my blog header you can now see me stoically staring down the onrushing, coastal ravaging Postal Tsunami that obliterates everything in its path, thanks to some Photo shopping by my son, who trembles under the constant threat of being disinherited of the few pennies I have in my pocket if he doesn't comply with all of my silly, arbitrary, practically unintelligible requests. I don't know if you can actually see the new photo header on your phone, but if you go to your laptop; or if you are one of the few dinosaurs who still uses a desktop model you can see it there, and God bless you for looking and for using antiquated technology.

Today's topic is letter carrier lunches, a subject I think is near and dear to the heart of those of us who swing the satchel for a living, because lunch is that one precious half hour in an otherwise frenzied, feverishly paced, oppressively overburdened day where we can flip the bird at the world and say "Leave me alone I don't get paid for this." I eat my daily lunch in the same fairly secluded place where I am largely out of view of postal customers and supervisors alike. 22 years in this business, however, has taught me that if there is one thing that the sometimes mentally deficient, letter carrier annoying public is good at is finding ingenious ways to ruin our lunch.  Something tells me that if we could manage to haul our huffing and puffing little LLVs to the top of Everest to take this half hour midday break, thinking we would be safely secluded there, some determined customer from the wrong zip code carrying a 3575 notice left would find a way to scale the sheer ice cliffs with no ropes and no oxygen to ask if we have his package.

A large percentage of these lunch wrecking, peace perturbing customers are well meaning busybodies who perhaps are under the misguided impression that being a government employee means that they pay our salaries, which of course gives them the constitutional right to interrupt the lunch that they don't really pay for, even if we did get paid for it, which we don't.  On the other hand, other lunch wreckers are just meddling, bombastic jerks with nothing better to do than harass people.  The following list of what not to say to do to your letter carrier on his/her lunch break deals with both of these types, and I'm sure you can think of many more clever things not to say or do to you at lunch, which I invite you to share in the comments below.

Please don't say (or do) the following to me on my UNPAID lunch:
  • Can I get my mail?  I know you think you pay my salary, and I know you think I'm just wasting your time and taxpayer money lounging beneath my favorite tree, but no I am not going to cut my unpaid lunch break five minutes short or more to dig through the flats, parcels and DPS to pull out your mail, unless you are one of my favorite customers - which, chances are, if you are doing something like this you are probably not.  One lunch wrecker who somehow suckered me into digging through piles of mail in the back of the LLV swore he was going out of town immediately on an emergency and it was a matter of life or death that he cash his check now.  The very next day he was back requesting the same thing, apparently having teleported, hyperspaced, or astrally projected back from the one crisis, and now immediately needed his mail again to deal with another.  
  •  Do you have my package?  A couple of weeks ago a customer from the next route over accosted me in the blissful Eden beneath my peaceful postal lunch tree and rather rudely insisted that I had his package.  "What is your address?" I asked, trying to hold my tongue in check and be nice.  He told me his address and I responded that no, I didn't have his package, to which he angrily insisted that yes, I did have it because the tracking number said so.  "Yeah, but you have the wrong mailman," I answered, pointing to the sign at the corner, where my route and the neighboring letter carrier's intersect.  "Well, what time does he get here?" he asked with an annoyed scowl.  "No idea," I said, and kept munching.  I knew, more or less, but I didn't feel like telling him.  That's what you get for being a douche.
  • Aren't you supposed to be working?  A lot of postal customers don't actually say this, but I can read it in their faces as they deliberately buzz my LLV with their cars to try to scare me into cutting my lunch short so they can get their mail a couple minutes earlier.  One time some kids on scooters came by and actually did ask me this question, but in a way they indicated that they thought it was cool I was being sneaky and hiding from the boss - kids can appreciate sneakiness if anybody can.  "Yeah, but don't tell anybody," I answered, and my little co-conspirators scootered away with big grins on their faces, delighted that I had let them in on the secret.  But only kids get to ask this question.  If you are over the age of say 12 and you have the audacity to ask me this I'm putting your mail on permanent dog hold, even if you don't have one.
  •  Can you get out of the truck?  What really irks me is when some lady or gentleman who is either overly portly, lazy, or both comes by with a letter to mail when I'm eating and expects me to jump out of the LLV to fetch it.  Now, the one thing I don't mind doing when I'm lunch is taking your letter from you; unless it comes with tediously stupid questions affixed where the stamp should be, and I'll even take a couple steps out of my way to retrieve your letter WHEN I'M ON THE CLOCK.  But don't think your little mail boy is going to cut short his precious UNPAID half hour (I just can't stress unpaid enough) so you don't have to bother to put your rather over-sized, jiggling buttocks in motion. Therefore, don't be surprised when I pretend I don't see you and drive away, meaning you'll have to haul your rather pathetically inert carcass all the way to the post office after all.
  •  AND ABOVE ALL NEVER SAY:  I hate to bother you on your lunch break but...If you say this I'll know you are a lying, worthless sack, because if you really hated to bother me you would have waited until my lunch was over to bother me.  One fellow who "hated to bother me" did so because I forgot to put the flag back down on a mailbox two blocks over.  He walked those two blocks - in the rain, no less, to resolutely deal with the imminent doom that this postal crisis threat to the free world portended.  I just let him stand there and soak for a minute, then asked him if he wanted a Dorito.
So please don't perturb your Palm Tree Postman while he is blissfully ensconced in the shady, inviolable, sacrosanct confines of his lunchtime temple. We letter carriers across America go out of our way to make you happy; sometimes doing things that are technically not even within postal regulations if we really like you, but grant us this little unpaid half hour of peace, please.


More by Mel on bad Postal Customers here

 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 take a look at what my blog sponsors on this page have to say.  I have removed Amazon.

11 comments:

  1. How about when they just "wait" for you to finish your lunch so they don't "bother you on your lunch time" but just sit and stare at you eating as they wait? Of course, you would rather handle their problem and get them out of your face.

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    1. I haven't been stared down on lunch yet but I can certainly see that happening.

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  2. I'm not a carrier (I've been a clerk for 32 years) but I understand. I do whatever I can to make things easy for my letter carrier at home. And I've always wondered, when I read about the heroic deeds letter carriers do every day, how often they are disciplined for disrupting their route when they stay with a customer till help comes, or assist a lost child, etc.

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    1. You are so right. Carriers help protect the neighborhoods they serve, it seems this little unpaid half hour should be revered by customers, and truthfully despite my rants most of the time it is.

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  3. If I am interrupted on mine, I add a couple minutes to lunch half hour. If questioned by management (never have been), I would say I was interrupted with postal business.

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    1. That's true. Customer Contact is a legitimate job function.

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  4. I think you can't stress HALF HOUR enough either, Mel. I mean, who in this civilized world-except postal employees-is forced to take a measly 30 minute lunch break?? It's barely enough time to eat, let alone allow for digestion to begin. That is not healthy! That is a heart attack waiting to happen. In less civilized places they have SIESTAS. Siestas!!! I think that's Spanish for "go home and take a nap", which it has been scientifically proven humans are more productive in the afternoons when they're allowed a midday snooze. Just think what you could do with all that added energy and mental acuity in the last half of your day. The PO may want to stock up on those Certificates of Appreciation...

    I always look forward to the Tsunami. Thanks Mel.

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  5. Thank you Robert Stevenson. Your compliment is very encouraging and entertaining. Thanks for contributing to the Tsunami. I for one think a half hour is fine because my arthritic legs seize up in the LLV, but on the other hand a siesta would be nice because I do get drowsy in the afternoon.

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  6. Had a family walk by me during my lunch. The father says to his family "see kids, this is why our Mal is always late". After they go by the truck I call the father back and inform him that I was in fact on my lunch and not getting paid. Which, means I have to go 8 1/2 hours in the day. He tries to apologize for what he said and I just tell him to get out of my face and that he ruined my only relaxing part of my day.

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  7. I had a couple wake me up from my lunch nap, demanding their mail. (Which was the first delivery after lunch) i told them after my break. They storm off and report me to the office. When my kids were babies, I would do some of the early morning feedings. So, my lunch break was my catch up sleep. So, every day after that I put a note on my window. "Out to lunch, be back soon"!

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  8. Thank you Clayton that's a great story. It looks like there are jerks everywhere. Thanks for reading!

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