Sunday, September 20, 2015
Sample This! - What Do Y'all Do When Your Scanner Talks to You?
By Mel Carriere
When you are a letter carrier and you start to hear voices talking to you in your vehicle it could have one of many causes. First of all you could just be loopy because of the heat and you need to pull over and hydrate. Secondly, the ghost of that welfare mama whose check you killed right before she died in the crack house fire is clinging to your LLV; her cursed, vengeful spirit whispering in your ear in hopes you will drive off the road. These days, with the advent of the GPS era there is another cause which makes less sense then the others but still needs to be discussed. This is that your postal scanner is actually talking to you. Sounds stupid, I know, but it happened to me, and since I was on my medication that day I'm pretty sure it was real.
When I left the Post Office around 9ish some day early last week I went to do an hour and fifteen minutes of overtime on another route first. As I approached the first delivery on my route at 1685 I heard an eerily robotic voice issuing forth from somewhere, telling me I had to sample five mail pieces across the street at 1680.
I slammed on the brakes and let the initial shock wash over me - that of being spoken to by a device that wasn't the electronic leash slash cell phone in my pocket blaring out the voice of my wife scolding me because I spilled milk on the floor and the ants were dancing in the kitchen. Then I looked down at the scanner screen, because the mysterious voice seemed to be emanating from its general direction, and saw the same "sample five items" message displayed there.
At this point several puzzling questions began to occur to me. First of all, was I expected to cross the street out of sequence, dig through the DPS for five pieces of mail I could "sample," and make the delivery out of order? Secondly, what did they mean by sample, exactly? Was it like a hip-hop sample, where I take five letters and mix them together, to the general confusion and mostly drug induced entertainment of everybody? Was I supposed to take a picture of the mail pieces, and if so how? I know these scanners are equipped with a camera, but I don't know how to access it. Next, what if there are not five pieces of mail for that address that I can sample?
Confused, I called my manager. This was not helpful, because she was equally confused and didn't know what I was talking about. She spoke to me calmly and gently, as if she thought I really was hearing ghosts of pissed off postal customers past in my ear, and told me not to worry about it. I took her at her word and somehow exited out of the program after getting an ominous message asking me if I REALLY wanted to exit without sampling, as if there could be possible consequences, such as jail time, or perhaps being tethered by my wrists from the ceiling in the Inspector's Gallery with electrodes attached to my sensitive regions; a place where no one can hear me scream.
I wondered if I was perhaps being tracked and penalized because my arrival at my first delivery did not match what DOIS projected, because I did my overtime first, as we are instructed to do. Could it be that the supervisor had not yet made the DOIS assignments, so the scanner reported back saying I was taking an hour and a half break, and this had caused deafening sirens to go off in Supervisor Spying Central - a hidden underground bunker a little like the Central Intelligence Agency War Room, but without the intelligence?
When I finally did arrive at 1680 about an hour and forty five minutes later the voice came back right as I was pulling up to the box. These little GPS spy machines are deadly accurate. They can track the testicles on a flea from outer space. Anyhow, I noticed to my amazement that not only did 1680 have 5 letters to sample, it had about nine of them, and it made me wonder how the scanner knew that. Does it talk to the DPS sort plan on a daily basis? The problem still remained how to sample them, but it finally occurred to me to scan the DPS bar codes on the mail pieces. It worked! The scanner gods were appeased and I was allowed to go about my business, without any further intrusions into the sanctified, private inner space of my LLV.
A couple days later my Manager went to a meeting and asked about the talking scanners. She said that yeah, they were doing this everywhere and that I did the right thing by scanning the bar codes. Good thing they told us about this in advance, instead of after about 14 letter carriers drove their LLVs into a ditch! I found out later that this happened to one of our CCAs too, and she was so startled she almost had an Early Onset Incontinence Episode (EOIE) in her postal pants.
The point is, who has time for any of this sh**! What I should have done in the first place was lift my proud middle finger to that blabbermouth scanner and tell it to "Sample this!"
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