Saturday, August 29, 2015

What is Your Postal Supervisor Doing While Your Life Sustaining Fluids Drip Onto a Scorching August Sidewalk?

By Mel Carriere

Photo of Scooby, feeling a little loopy in the August heat, also by Mel Carriere

It was 97 frickin' degrees in San Diego yesterday.  I had the long weekend so I'm not complaining, but what the hell are we paying San Diego prices for if we are going to get Florida weather?  While my coworkers were out there dripping away their precious life's fluids onto the soil and sidewalks, instead of driving out some bottles of cold water I'm sure our supervisors we're sitting around complaining about how lazy letter carriers are and wondering why the hell they didn't bring their jackets because the air conditioning makes the office so damn cold.  Which raises the question, while you are out there baking your brain in the hot August sun and wondering why you ever signed up for this crap, what is your supervisor really doing back there in the PO besides grumbling about how slow you are?

I'll be the first to tell you that being a supervisor is a stressful and demanding job.  Sometimes Postal supervisors work 15 hour days, get compensated for 8, and when they complain are then told by upper management that they should work more efficiently so they can get the job done on time.  Typically upper management is populated by backstabbing incompetents who were bad supervisors who delegated everything to 204bs.  Therefore, they really might not be aware of the workload associated with running a Post Office.  Just don't think I'm accusing all supervisors of being lazy here - Typically about 30-40% of supervisors work themselves into an exhausted frazzle in order to pick up the slack for the other 60-70 percent who take extended lunch breaks and then lock themselves in their offices to play on the computer before going home early.

A new report about a hack attack on Ashley Madison, a website that apparently promotes and facilitates marital infidelity, bears my hypothesis out.  Among the 36 million Ashley Madison accounts hacked, 52  were using a USPS.GOV address to log on.  I already know what your keen, discerning, critical mind is thinking right now; that 52 accounts out of 36 million is not very much at all, not even a drop in the proverbial bucket.  So our organization has a few under-worked philanderers with too much time on their hands and not enough sex on the home front, big deal?  No, what this really means is that we have 52 under-worked philanderers who were STUPID enough to use their postal email address to set up an account on the site.  I'm sure those 52 were not even the tip of the iceberg, but the handful of microscopic water crystals at the tip of the tip of the iceberg consisting of probably thousands of other supervisors who were smart enough to use a private email address to log in.  Even so, these uncounted thousands were still out there cruising for tail on a government computer with their feet up on a government-issue desk, while every once in a while adjusting the thermostat because it's just too damn cold in the Post Office in August, after which they go out to the workroom floor to yell at a 204b, then return to the computer and minimize the Ashley Madison screen so they can check up on where you are currently wasting time.

A spokesman for the Postal Service Inspector General said that "more information is needed before determining if any violations occurred."  I think that means the OIG has to make sure none of its own people's names are on that damning email list before they start pointing fingers elsewhere.

Perhaps the only solution is to start using GPS monitors on those fat-ass supervisors and station managers, admittedly not all of them, who take two hour lunches, tell the 204b to hold all phone calls, and then disappear into the office until 3:30, at which time they warn that trembling 204b doing both his and the manager's work on the computer that he better come up with an acceptable excuse to explain his or her absence in case the Area Manager calls.  Hmm...Maybe ankle bracelets would be better, ones that set off a deafening alarm wail if the manager punches out before eight hours are up.  On second thought, I don't think anybody manufactures an ankle bracelet that will wrap around some of those fat ankles I've seen waddling out of the Manager's office.  Any suggestions?

 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.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What Extinct Mail Dinosaurs Do You Recall? A Trip Down Postal Memory Lane

By Mel Carriere

I just read an article on Postal News reporting that Columbia House, that seemingly indestructible mailing giant of yesteryear is going bankrupt.  This news came as a shock to me because I thought they died a long time ago, but it doesn't cause me any heartache.  Yes, I did get my 13 vinyl records for 1 cent (Can you believe that things are so expensive now my keyboard doesn't even have the 'cent' symbol?). I was a naive 14 years old when I received that musical manna from heaven, but after the happiness wore off I spent the next couple years dealing with the realization that I actually was obligated to buy a few things.  When you're a teenager without a job and a miserly old man yelling at you to get one every time you ask for a few bucks, this can be problematic.

 God bless Dad for teaching me character, and for teaching me how there's a sucker born every minute.  Now I'm older (yes) and wiser (eh-maybe), and looking back retrospectively on the glory days of mass Columbia House mailings I participated in early in my postal career, as well as other hogs of the postal parcel hamper that used to take up a lot more space within those dusty canvas or plastic depths than they deserved to.

Columbia House packages were a real pain in my blue postal pants.  They came in many sizes, some big and some small, but there was one particular size that just would not fit in an apartment mailbox no matter which way you turned it.  I seem to remember it was about a half a centimeter too big.  One would think our sagacious folks working in mailing requirements could have done something to have the musical mega-mailer shave off a couple layers of cardboard, but those bulky things always had to go to the door.  The real problem wasn't so much delivering them, however, as it was taking them back.  There were plenty of broke teenagers like I once was out there who would hand the packages back to me with the words "Did not order" written across the front in bold Sharpie pen, and would keep doing this until they got a nasty, threatening, legal sounding letter from the company.  This meant that every day I had at least one Columbia House item I had to stamp "Refused" after I got back to the office, when I was already rushing to do a hundred other things before I clocked out.

Another bad thing about Columbia House was that when these packages got forwarded they usually had a postage due charge that you had to collect on.  I would do my best ninja impersonation trying to leave a notice and sneak off the doorstep before somebody answered, but I invariably got caught, and once in a while there was a customer who actually wanted the package.  Who has time to stand there for five minutes while the customer protests "why the hell do I have to pay the postage?" - then spend another five minutes waiting for him to search the house frantically for pocket change?

I'm probably going to miss a few things here; and I welcome you to fill in the gaps in my memory down below in the comments, but there were a few other annoying mailings that used to suck the precious postal time transactor clicks away like bull elephants drinking at a waterhole.  One of these was cereal samples.  When I was brand new I remember dealing with cereal box samples where you had to match a tiny card with a tiny box in your sample tub.  There were sometimes about ten samples or so per swing.  I was new back then, I really didn't know how to manage this sort of thing, so I would always wind up missing about half of them, which made our 204b laugh at me when I got back to the office.  The only benefit of this mailing - I have heard, because I never dared this, is that some letter carriers would eat the samples going to vacant houses.  They would lug along a carton of milk on cereal sample day just for this purpose.

But the mother of all postal pains, of course, were the AOL CDs we used to deliver by the hamper full back in the late 90s, early 2000s.  Some days it seems I would spend half an hour in the back of my LLV sorting those things for delivery, only to find the slick metal cases piled up on top of mailboxes the next day by customers who had absolutely no use for them.  I take that back - I read somewhere that bird lovers were hanging the CDs from strings by their windows so that birds wouldn't fly into the glass.  I don't know how exactly that worked, but other than that they were worthless.  Now these relics are selling on Ebay as collectors items for $12.99.  Who would buy that crap?  Some slick shyster has a whole refrigerator box full of these in his basement and is suckering them off on collectible junkies.  What a racket.  I never want to see one again.

 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.

 My latest on Hub Pages - What's in Your Mailbox? Part 4 - Homo Sapien Horrors

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't Get Comfortable - Can a "Good" Supervisor Survive in a Hostile Postal Universe?

By Mel Carriere

This is not a plea to declare this "Hug your Supervisor" day, or anything silly like that.  I would never go that far; some of them don't seem to brush their teeth so I it would be wrong of me to advocate getting any closer than you have to.  But I think we have all had the admittedly uncommon experience of having a supervisor that is organized, actually responds to your requests for the things you need to serve your customers and deliver your route efficiently, and isn't cracking your skull with his or her clipboard every day to get you to go faster.  These people are rare, I know, but they are out there.  The problem is that they just don't stick around very long, but quickly become casualties of the cruel and oppressive system they willingly participate in.  Like a male lion taking over a new pride, Postal Management tends to devour all of the young that don't carry the same defective DNA.

At my station, we currently have a supervisor who seems to possess those admirable qualities that are like the kiss of death for anyone aspiring to move up the ladder in the Postal Service.  He prints out our change of address labels on a daily basis (before him we got them once a month or so), he posts the DOIS report by the time clock like he is supposed to, and he negotiates with, rather than horsewhips carriers when he is running the floor.  Unfortunately, since he is the junior guy, the unpromoted 204b, he usually only runs the floor on Saturdays.  I predict he won't be running anything at our station pretty soon.  We have a tight inner circle of inept (dare I say ditzy) supervisors who are absolutely terrified by the threat of competence and scurry to chase it out the door just as soon as it makes its presence known.  If they performed their jobs with the skill and industriousness with which they eliminate rivals our post office would be a model of efficiency.

A friend and coworker of mine always greets the newbie supervisors with the words "Don't get comfortable," because he knows they won't stick around long, especially if the carriers like them.  Supervisors like this usually get left "holding the bag," or becoming scapegoats for bad mistakes or serious, willful breaches of postal regulations that they had nothing to do with.  For instance, they might be left running the floor alone with piles of curtailed political mail that have aged like rancid beer, not fine wine, to first class status.  Even though this poor sucker may been ordered to continue curtailing this way overdue political mail on a day when the other supervisors all conveniently take the day off, he or she is the one caught with his or her proverbial postal pants down when a representative from the Operations Department shows up in the station to make sure all of that mail has been delivered.  Weird things like this tend to happen in our Post Office to those who aren't thick like thieves with the rest of the scheming, calculating, and figuratively gnarled and warty coven members cooking up evil curses around the Postal cauldron.

Throwing your coworkers under the bus seems to be a sure fire way to achieve promotion in the Postal Service.  Spending most of your time on the phone, thumping your chest with some higher up instead of doing your job is another effective way of moving up the ladder.  Violating the contract, hiding mail, and harassing underlings look pretty good on a postal resume too.  Going about your business quietly and efficiently, on the other hand; doing everybody else's work in addition to your own, gets you thrown out quicker than last week's moldy bread.

So on second thought, if you are one of the few postal employees who actually likes your supervisor, don't hug them after all, but pretend that you hate them.  Spread the word that they are tyrannical bullies that don't know what the hell they are doing.  This will help them blend in with the rest of the useless, drooling, sad sack drones that are only good at feathering their own nest, and maybe help them stick around for a while.

Dancing with the Devil - More by Mel on Postal Supervision on Hub Pages

 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.

Image of my LLV among the palm trees by me

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Death of DOIS? - Or: Better Uses for the Bomb

By Mel Carriere

I wrote this on August 6th, which probably quite by coincidence happens to be significant for two reasons.  The first of these is that August 6th, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the day the US dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.  I don't want to get overly political here, I guess there is no use crying over spilled milk, especially if you are not Japanese.  It seems to me, however, that even though Harry thought he was doing the right thing when he lit that big candle, I think there were better uses they could have put the "Little Boy" to than laying waste to this coastal city on the Seto Sea; but I guess the fat cats wanted to get the biggest bang for their buck.  One idea would have been to drop it over Tokyo Bay for pure shock and awe effect.  Or perhaps they might have picked a remote military target to minimize civilian casualties.  Better yet, they could have saved it to drop on Eagan Minnesota, to take out the DOIS mainframe there before that postal destroying cancer could metastasize and spread its evil tentacles.

Turns out they might spare Eagan and the DOIS facility the 20 kiloton radiation treatment, because the second significant event I heard about today was that DOIS might be on its way out on its own, the powers that be finally admitting defeat and recognizing that DOIS, unlike Little Boy, did not give them the bang for the buck they were dreaming of when they dropped this nasty monstrosity onto the once pristine, pastoral prairies of the Gopher State south of St. Paul.  The shock and awe management expected from their DOIS bomb did not materialize, although the fallout from the Postal blast reverberated around the country and inflicted many unfortunate casualties among carriers that were displaced or reduced to PTF.

I received this tidbit about the demise of DOIS from a Union officer who dropped by my case today and asked me how I was doing.  You know me, I never complain about anything, so I told him I was doing just fine, that nobody had bitch slapped me with a copy of the violated contract lately. I suppose he could see the long shadow of my broken down Honda Civic on my face, however, and took that to mean that I really wasn't doing so hot and needed something to cheer me up.  So quite without my prompting, he gave me the heartening news that postal management is recognizing that DOIS is not giving them the accurate information they need to evaluate routes, so that when they actually go out and do walk routes they are coming back with despondent faces, because the numbers that the DOIS machine has been pumping up their already swelled heads with don't match reality.  He didn't actually say it like that, I threw in those colorful descriptive terms on my own, but that was the essence of the DOIS part of the conversation.

Furthermore, it turns out that the route adjustments they have done throughout our peaceful little seaside burg of San Diego are resulting in adding routes, not eliminating them, like they assumed would happen while they were drooling over the overly optimistic DOIS projections that the computer spits out from the foul innards of a mother board that is as warped as the heads on my Honda engine.  He said don't be surprised if they don't do the "you say toe-may-to, I say toe-mah-to" routine and call the whole thing off; and this would not surprise me at all. I think abandoning bad adjustments has been done a lot lately, my evidence being that we haven't had any new ones in at least four years, maybe longer.

The NALC Rep told me that parcel volume seems to be the annoying fly buzzing around the server room and throwing the data off.  Try as it does, the challenged little DOIS choo-choo that couldn't just can't huff and puff and sputter its way up to the summit of the lofty parcel peak carriers climb every day as a matter of routine.  Meanwhile, the brain trust sits in the mahogany lined chambers at L'enfant plaza scratching at their straining skulls and coming to the conclusion, albeit reluctantly, that perhaps the parcels don't deliver themselves after all, like DOIS says they do.

Although the potential death of DOIS is encouraging news, the toxic DOIS mushroom cloud still billows above us and I don't think it is safe to take our radiation suits off just yet.  If there is anything I have learned after 22 years in this organization it is that there are a lot of stubborn people making decisions in high places who will stick to their bad ideas and their bad programs long after they have been absolutely proven not to work.  So let's not declare VE (Victory in Eagan) day just yet, although as a former sailor I wouldn't mind putting on my cracker jacks again (they don't fit), and kissing a cute nurse in the street.

For Your Friends Contemplating RCA or CCA - Which Postal Poison Pill Should You Swallow

 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.

Image is attributed to:  "Atomic bombing of Japan" by Nagasakibomb.jpg: The picture was taken by Charles Levy from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack.Atomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima.jpg: Personel aboard Necessary Evilderivative work: Binksternet (talk) - Nagasakibomb.jpgAtomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Image of sailor kissing nurse from: